Thousands turned out April 22, 1928 for the grand opening of Snohomish County’s first airport. The facility sat on the north side of what is today Smith Island, off Highway 529 between Everett and Marysville. (Everett Public Library)

Thousands turned out April 22, 1928 for the grand opening of Snohomish County’s first airport. The facility sat on the north side of what is today Smith Island, off Highway 529 between Everett and Marysville. (Everett Public Library)

The dawn of aviation in Snohomish County

An 1928 event celebrated the opening of the county’s first airport, between Everett and Marysville.

They came by the thousands on a sunny spring Sunday to see flying machines, derring-do and more at the official opening of Snohomish County’s first airport.

It was April 22, 1928 and it seemed the country, and for that matter the world, had gone plane crazy. The previous May, Charles Lindbergh had completed the first solo, non-stop trans-Atlantic flight, and in the process captured the public’s imagination. Nearly every day, newspapers carried headlines touting the latest attempt at an aviation speed or distance record.

The new Everett Airport, also known as the Ebey Island Airport, sat on the north side of what is today Smith Island, off Highway 529 between Everett and Marysville. The 30-acre sliver of land included little more than an east-west grass landing strip 500 feet wide and a 2,370 feet long, hangars and an administration building.

The Daily Herald described the site as “almost ideal,” with easy access to downtown Everett and adjacent to the main state highway which was to be expanded to accommodate the expected traffic.

The opening day festivities really began the previous evening when the port commission, which held the lease on the field, hosted a banquet at the Monte Cristo hotel followed by a well attended “hangar-warming dance,” according to a front-page story that ran in The Daily Herald.

The following day’s entertainment included air races, stunt flying, wing walking and an appearance by C.E. “Daredevil” Thompson. For four months the previous year Thompson had held the “bullet drop” world record having dropped 2,400 feet before opening his parachute. He was expected to make a drop of 500 feet over the Everett airport, but didn’t.

“Disappointed as the crowd was … their feelings were as nothing to his own,” The Daily Herald reported of Thompson.

“Skeptical from the first sight of the parachute he was to use, a cotton one which had been packed for four months and of a type he had never before used, he nevertheless got out on the plane rigging three times to make the jump and was about to the make the leap on the third trial just to satisfy the crowd and in spite of his own misgivings when Captain C.V. Stead pulled him back into the plane. Both flyers said afterward that no man should go against a ‘hunch like Thompson’s.’”

The last aeronautical chart found that depicted the original Everett Airport was produced in April 1949. The airport evidently closed that year or the next, according to Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields, an aviation history website.

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