In 1927, Mr. and Mrs. Wiley R. Reynolds donated approximately 160 acres of property for an "aviation field" to the City of Jackson with runway construction being completed in 1928. In his presentation speech on June 3, 1928, Mr. Reynolds was quoted as saying, "Having been born and lived in Jackson my entire life, it is only natural that I should be interested in helping develop my home town. By deeding this property to the City of Jackson last December for an aviation field demonstrated my desire for Jackson to have one of the finest aviation fields in the state of Michigan."
July 27, 1911
The first airplane to be constructed and flown in Jackson was financed and flown by Fred Lewis of Pioneer Manufacturing. Fred commissioned Mr. Hatch and Mr. O'Brien to build a bi-wing airplane. Mr. Lewis flew this aircraft on July 27, 1911.
July 30, 1924
The first recorded airplane crash in Jackson County occurred when Oscar "Galloping" Gallup crashed in his airplane in Vandercook Lake. He received minor injuries.
June 3, 1928
W. R. Reynolds donated 160 acres to the City of Jackson for use as a municipal airport in 1927. The dedication ceremony was on June 3, 1928.
The City of Jackson constructed two runways: the north-south runway was 1800 feet long and 150 feet wide; the east-west runway was 2600 feet long and 150 feet wide. Both runways were made of dirt.
Construction of a new airport terminal building that housed the passenger terminal, airport manager's office, weather monitoring devices, and pilots' lounge. In its history, this building also served as a credit union, Consumers Energy Flight Department office, FAA offices, and today it is the Airport Administration Office. This was a civil works project.
Construction of a municipal hangar of approximately 10,000 square feet in size with 100 feet wide doors was completed. The original cost of the hangar was $25,000. By way of contrast, a recent project to replace the original doors cost approximately $90,000. This was also a civil works project.
According to the Jackson Citizen Patriot, the "First Jackson Girl" to fly solo under the local-Federal CAA pilot training course occurred in December 1940. The course was offered by the Jackson Junior College and the pilot was Aleta Grill.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed new runways (current alignment) as part of the war effort. The main runway was 4100 feet long and the cross wind runway was 3,500 feet long. These lacked the required safety areas at each end. A project in 2006 corrected these runway safety area deficiencies at an estimated cost of $33 million.
American Airlines started passenger service at Reynolds Municipal Field.
Approval by the City of Jackson and other governmental agencies to close Airport Road to permit a runway extension.
Construction of a four-story air traffic control tower and a one-story airport terminal building was initiated.
Air traffic control tower opens for business providing air traffic control services for the airport. The airport terminal building also opens for business.
Runway 5-23 is extended to 5344 feet.
There is much community discussion about the financial problems of the airport and the City's desire to have the townships contribute financially. Also, the first armed guards are required by the FAA to meet incoming and outgoing passenger flights.
The City and County jointly operate the airport.
The airport is transferred from the City of Jackson to the County of Jackson.
JCC purchases a building located at the airport and begins to offer flight instruction at the JCC Flight Center.
Passenger services to Jackson are halted. Simmons airlines were the last to offer services at JXN. Air traffic controllers strike nationwide and here at JXN.
FAA puts JXN on notice that the runway safety area (RSA) deficiencies must be corrected.
County of Jackson begins banking money for the local match portion of correcting the RSA deficiencies according to FAA standards.
The Jackson County Airport begins the Environmental Assessment phases required prior to beginning construction to correct the RSA deficiencies.
Environmental Assessment for the RSA project is completed and submitted to the FAA for approval.
Construction on the first phase of the RSA project is scheduled to begin.
The Jackson County Airport was honored to host Colonel Harry T. Stewart Jr., a Tuskegee Airman, on May 27, 2008. Click here to view his biography. Please refer to our Media tab to hear the speech given by Colonel Harry T. Stewart, Jr.
Runway 14-32 is reconstructed with 300 feet of safety area at each runway end. This project was funded by Federal, State and Local funds.
Land and easement acquisition begins for the Runway 7-25 Safety Area Project. A total of 24 parcels and easements must be purchased to accommodate the new runway.
A WWII bronze monument is donated by Bob Lazebnik of Jackson, MI. This statue is now located in Aviation Heritage Park near the front entrance of the airport. The over life sized monument is dedicated to WWII Army Air Corp pilots and is modeled after a small statue created in 1944 by Bob's brother, Jack Lazebnik a WWII Army Air Corp pilot himself.
The Administration Building was improved with brick tuck pointing/sealing, installation of new windows and a new entrance door.
County Hangar #201 (brick hangar), the brick façade was restored and improved with tuck pointing.
The Terminal building lobby had new carpeting installed and the restrooms had new toilet partition installed.
The Restaurant area of the Terminal building saw replacement of the 60 year old light fluorescent light fixtures with modern high efficiency pendant light fixtures plus ceiling fans were installed in increase energy efficiency.
Runway 7-25 Safety Project
The first tangible signs of Runway 7-25 Safety Project related construction occurred in 2012. The new service road will connect the east and west sides of the airport and eliminates the necessity of crossing runway 14-32 with fuel and maintenance vehicles.
The SRE building is under construction now and will be completed mid-2013. This 12,500 sq. ft. building will provide shelter and maintenance area for the airport’s snow removal equipment.
2013 seen the construction and completion of “The Aviator” monument in the Aviation Heritage Park. This monument and associated plaques are a lasting tribute to the men and women of Jackson County who served this county in all branches of the US Military. This monument is a culmination of the efforts of many individuals. Special recognition for the completion of this monument needs to go to the late William “Bill” Maher, who tirelessly perused the funding for this special monument. Also to George and Faye Bolender who helped to shepherded the project through to completion.
In an addition to the Park, the Airport was the recipient of another truly unique piece of aviation art. Mr. Robert LaZebnik, commissioned a group of artisans to construct a replica WWI German Fokker DR-1 Triplane. This interesting piece of art is displayed near the entrance to the terminal building or everyone’s enjoyment.
20 year anniversary - Aero Investors Flying Club was established in 1994 by Jackson resident pilots Harold Burke, Tim Stark and Murd Davis after successful restoration of a 1948 Cessna 140 that started in 1992. The intent of the club is to “provide inexpensive aircraft availability and operations to a limited number of members.”
Now, twenty years later Aero Investors boasts 38 members and four aircraft. These pilots and aircraft log approximately 600 hours per year offering a valuable asset to flying options at Jackson County – Reynolds Field.
Wicked Winter, the historically harsh winter conditions included several weeks the Instrument Landing system was taken out of service by the FAA because of the accumulated snow in the glide slope field and runway lights were obstructed by snow. Snowfall for the winter of 2013-2014 = 81.5 inches of snow plowed not counting the snow that was blowing around requiring additional plowing or snow blowing. All in all, 523 staff hours were expended in “snow processing” during this winter. By comparison, the previous winter saw 37.5 inches of snow and 175 staff hours to process.
Runway 7-25 Safety Area Project Begins
After 15 years of discussion, planning, informing, investigating and hoping; Phase I of the Runway 7-25 Safety Area Project (RSA) started on October 28, 2015. The sole purpose of this project is to correct the runway safety deficiencies in current primary runway 6-24. Starting in 2000 a number of options and alternatives were explored for correcting the absence of 1000’ of safety area at the runway ends and the best alternative was to construct a new primary runway, runway 7-25 and decommission the current primary runway 6-24.
The current construction project will go well into 2016 and the final phase of construction is programmed for 2017 when new runway 7-25 will be open for business. By that time contractors will have moved, trucked, compacted and graded approximately 1,000,000 cubic yards of earth and material plus installed several miles of new fence; relocated a road corner; and paved a new runway and taxiway. The new runway will meet all FAA standards and will meet the needs of the greater Jackson area for decades to come
Compass Rose Project
In June, approximately 25 volunteers descended upon the Airport intent on creating a compass rose, which is used by pilots to calibrate their aircraft compass by parking their airplane on the compass rose and comparing true north with magnetic north. The group, led by Benjamin Zeffer of Ann Arbor, Michigan, fulfilled one of his Eagle Scout requirements by virtue of this project. Assisting Benjamin was his mother, Marie Zeffer, who coincidentally is a member of the Ninety-Nines, an organization of women pilots with a mission of advancing aviation. Al Scheppleman of Ripstra and Sheppleman, Jackson, Michigan, graciously donated his time and expertise to lay out the coordinates for the compass rose.
Ornathopter Lands at JXN
Jackson County Reynolds Field has obtained a unique outdoor aviation display, the reproduction of an “ornathopter”. An ornathopter, originally designed by Leonardo DaVinci, is an aircraft that flies by flapping its wings. This work was possible because of the generosity of Bob LaZebnik and the talents of metal working artisans Bob Riske and Stan Riske supported by many friends.
Lights, Camera, Action….
Perhaps for the first time, Jackson County Reynolds Field was the primary location for a commercial film shoot. In June, we welcomed a film crew for the production of the movie Lifestone Velocity, a family movie about the coming of age of a young aviator. The Airport plays a key location as a fictional airport in the film’s story. Producer Kristina Kaylen said, “The airport was beautiful, especially at sunset. We couldn’t have done this project without Reynolds Field!”
A Monumental Discovery
This large piece of concrete was unearthed during construction of future Runway 7-25 on the east side of Jackson County Reynolds Field near the intersection of Airport Road and Argyle Street. A photo, taken on June 3, 1928, during dedication ceremonies of Jackson’s Reynolds Municipal Field, shows Annette Reynolds, daughter of Airport land benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Wiley Reynolds, unveiling the dedication plaques mounted to a large poured concrete monument. After closer examination of the concrete slab, it was determined to be the original monument and flag pole base from 1928.
The Landfill Project
In 2001 the first official Airport Layout Plan was approved and all parties were aware new runway 7-25 would cross a large section of a former landfill area located along Woodville Road on the west side of the Airport. Initial environmental investigations and delineations began in 2007 with the goal of identifying the scope and type of materials buried and relocated to a certified landfill site. Starting in November of 2015, the excavation and hauling away of the landfill materials began with the project completed in 2016. Given the 20 plus acre site excavated from six to sixteen feet below grade, hazardous materials were encountered.
The weight of the materials per ton were a little higher than anticipated with the 200,000 in-place cubic yards of landfill materials excavated weighing in at 260,000 tons for an average of 1.3 tons per yard.
Runway 7-25 Completed
The RWY 7-25 Safety Project started in the year 2000-2001 when an ad hoc committee studied a number of alternatives intended to correct the runway safety area deficiencies on runways 14-32 and 6-24. $50,000,000 and eighteen years later, the project is completed.”
Historic Reynolds Field Poster Created
In 2017, Tony Hurst commissioned and funded creation and printing of a 14” x 20” poster created by Ann Arbor artist Chris Bidlack. Tony Hurst, President of The Hurst Foundation, has a long history with Jackson County – Reynolds Field as a hangar and aircraft owner. Mr. Hurst donated a large quantity of these posters to the Airport with all proceeds to be donated to the Aviation Heritage Park fund. To obtain a print, contact the Airport Administrative office at 517-788-4225. The cost is $20 for the standard poster and $30 for an artist signed poster.
90th Anniversary and Dedication of New Runway
In April the airport community got a chance to celebrate both the dedication of the new runway and the 90th Anniversary of the airport. Nearly 300 guests, including representatives from the County, MDOT, FAA, and State and Congress attended to commemorate the dedication of runway 7-25. This dedication culminated the nearly sixteen-year project that included the relocation and extension of runway 14-32, the demolition of runway 6-24, relocation of an abandoned land fill, and the construction of runway 7-25. This was also an opportunity to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the Jackson County Airport – Reynolds Field. . The 90th Anniversary event included B-17 flights in the Yankee Lady and The B-17, Flying Fortress, brought over from the Yankee Air Museum, offered rides. Also to commemorate this event, the airport commissioned JTV to produce a historical video of the airport documenting the distinguished history of our airport
Two Ninety-Year Olds Meet Again
Labor Day Weekend we were lucky to have the Ford Tri-Motor, in conjunction with the EAA Chapter 304 members, spend the holiday weekend at our airport providing dreams to hundreds of individuals that got the opportunity to experience aviation history.
The Ford Tri-Motor that visited was the Ford Tri-Motor 5-AT-B, with serial No. 8. This aircraft flew for the first time on December 1, 1928, which made it as old as our wonderful airport. It was wonderful to see a 90 year-old airplane operating on a 90 year-old field!
Professor Diana Agy, Director of the Heritage Center, and students from the Jackson College Heritage Center, erected an exhibit in the Airport Terminal Building, “Going Home: A Story of Courage, Sacrifice and Friendship”.
The exhibit details the lives of Elwood Bailey, Zennth Pond and William Maher, who formed a friendship while learning to fly at the Jackson County Airport. All three young men set off to join the war together, serving as pilots in WWII, with only one of the three young men returning after the war.
The display is an attempt to show how important it is to remember those who have made sacrifices and is especially true of our veterans who didn’t come home.