Paine Field’s journey to flight

1936 – Paine Field is built by the Public Works Administration as one of 10 “superairports” nationwide. The idea was to stimulate economic growth.

1941 – The U.S. Army Air Corps takes over Paine Field in response to the outbreak of World War II in Europe.

1948 – The military gives Paine Field back to Snohomish County.

1951 – The U.S. Air Force takes over the field, but allows civilian development on land around the airport.

1966 – The Air Force leaves, giving Paine back to Snohomish County. The Boeing Co. builds its new 747 factory on land just north of the airstrip.

1978-79 – The Snohomish County Council adopts a combination of documents commonly known as the mediated agreement. The documents overlap, but say that in general the county will emphasize general aviation at Paine Field while discouraging airline or air cargo service.

1987 – San Juan Airlines starts five flights a day from Paine Field to Portland, Ore. The airline drops the route within a year.

1992 – The Puget Sound Air Transportation Committee proposes shifting up to 50 flights a day from Sea-Tac International Airport to Paine Field by 2000. Opponents pack a public hearing on the proposal, decrying it as “a blatant destruction of the quality of life.” The Paine Field option is dropped, and the committee instead opts to recommend a third runway at Sea-Tac.

1997 – Horizon Airlines announces it is studying flights between Paine Field and Portland using 37-seat de Haviland Dash 8s. After several months of meetings, opponents say they are comfortable with the idea, which never takes off. Horizon instead uses the plane earmarked for the Everett-Portland route to boost service between Seattle and three inland Northwest cities.

2004 – In January, state Rep. Dave Schmidt renews the Paine Field debate by proposing a $100,000 state-funded study to determine the feasibility of attracting an airline to Paine Field. The proposal is dropped in favor of a two-part study to be conducted by Snohomish County examining the economic development potential of the airport. The first round of survey results are due this summer.

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