S: Base Operations at Page Field
FC: Base Operations at Page Field | By Ann M. Fox
1: Page Field History Aviation has a long and rich history in Lee County. It all started at Page Field with land originally purchased by the City of Fort Myers in 1924 with plans for it to be a municipal golf course. A little more than 84 years ago, on April 1, 1926, a Ford Stout all-metal plane operated by Florida Airways Corporation inaugurated mail service into Fort Myers. In July 1937, National Airlines became the first passenger airline to serve the area. Shortly after the United States entry into WWII, the Fort Myers Airport became a pilot training base for the Army Air Force, later to become the United States Air Force. The airport saw B-24 and B-25 bomber training during the early stages of the war. In 1943, Fort Myers Army Air Base became an advanced fighter-pilot training facility for the P-39, a high-tech pursuit plane, and later, the famous P-51 Mustang. In 1945, the airport was named Page Field in honor of local resident and WWI ace pilot, Captain Channing Page. When the airport was returned to civilian service, the Army Air Corps had vastly improved the airport infrastructure with longer runways and commercial use buildings. Regular commercial service resumed, and in 1965, Southwest Florida entered into the passenger jet age when National AIrlines operated a Boeing 727, named "City of Fort Myers," from New York's Kennedy Airport to Fort Myers. With the opening of what is now called Southwest Florida International Airport on May 14, 1983, commercial service ceased at Page Field. However, Page Field has continued to serve Lee County as the general aviation airport. Recreational, training and corporate flights make their home at Page. In fact, FMY is an indispensable part of our transportation network as it serves as a reliever airport for RSW. Having the majority of general aviation flights operate into Page Field helps ensure the ease of commercial flights at Southwest Florida International Airport and enhances safety and the overall air traffic flow for the region.
2: On May 6, 2010, Lee County Port Authority officially broke ground on the new Terminal Complex at Page Field. The project included a two-story, 22,613 s.f. terminal building that would replace the current one, a 24,000 s.f. multi-use hangar, a new fuel farm with Jet and Avgas fuel, intersection improvements at Fowler Street, a parking lot, new entrance roadway and native landscaping that would enhance the building and surroundings.
3: Commissioner Ray Judah, Commissioner Tammy Hall, Executive Director Bob Ball, and Deputy Executive Director of Aviation Peter Modys sling a little dirt at the new terminal groundbreaking. | The long awaited Groundbreaking May 6, 2010
4: Since the new terminal is designed to commemorate Page Field's roots in WWII aviation history, it was only fitting to have two of the era's warbirds on static display for the event. Lee County Port Authority Deputy Executive Director of Aviation, Peter B. Modys, introduced and thanked both Bud Skinner (owner of the AT-6) and Richard Schmidt (owner of the PT Stearman) for providing their aircraft for display.
5: A large crowd gathered beneath the tent to listen to the commencement speeches, leaving very few chairs empty during the event.
6: The new GA Terminal Complex will be located in the west quadrant of Page Field and will be accessed from Fowler Street.
7: Aerial views of construction site June 2010
8: Aerial views of construction site July 2010
9: Photo taken from FMY tower showing construction site, July 2010
10: Raising the prefabricated concrete walls | J U L Y
11: Former Director, Coleen Baker, visits the site of the future terminal. | A U G U S T
12: Second floor catwalk | Reinforced arch of ceiling where P-51 replica will eventually hang. | First floor lobby | Staircase to catwalk
13: Outdoor Features Parking Lot AT-6 Canopy Flag Poles
14: The name Base Ops originates from the World War II-era military jargon for where pilots would check in after they'd landed. | Base Ops
15: Upper level terminal walls display black and white photo blow-ups depicting Page Field during 1943-44.
16: Hoisting the P-51 Mustang
17: The replica of a P-51 D Mustang aircraft hangs suspended from the lobby ceiling.
18: Assembling the AT-6 Under Canopy
20: Pilot's Lounge | Cafe | Seminar Room
21: Recreation Room | Flight Planning | Lobby | Base Ops Exchange Gift Shop
22: 1919 Ford Model-T | Courtesy of Edison & Ford Winter Estates
23: Artifact Displays | Artifacts from SW Florida Historical Museum, as well as donations from actual Page Field veterans of WWII, include combat flying medals, model aircraft and mementos from Page's military years.
24: A little extra in the restrooms | After washing, guests have the choice of tri-fold paper towels or white linens to dry off with. | Above: Modern comforts with an old-fashioned touch | Mouthwash in both mens and ladies restrooms | Mens personal hygiene basket offers spray deodorant and lotions. | Women have several options of body sprays and lotions, similar to the mens basket.
25: Family Day August 4, 2011
26: Base Ops cake | Staff and family enjoy their food while relaxing in the retro cafe.
27: Bill Nowell & Jim Sax share a joke with their guests. Below: Cheryl Morrison gives a tour to her husband. | Above: Julene Duff relaxes with her children and mother in the lobby. Below: Scott Sheets shows off the facility to his guests.
28: Ann Fox takes a break from photographing the event to share a moment with her daughter and family, while Geoff Unger walks the catwalk with his guests. | The Jackson family share quality time, while a group of unsuspecting pilots landed at Page Field and found themselves treated to a free meal.
29: Children of all ages seem to be fascinated by airplanes and aviation. | Kelly Martin poses with her daughters, Kate and Emily, on the staircase. | Below: Whenever she goes by Page Field, Mekenzie Hodgdon makes her mom stop in to see Nana and the airplanes. Could she be a future pilot in the making?
30: Building | P L A Q U E
32: Flag Pole | P L A Q U E
34: AT-6 Texan | P L A Q U E
36: Namesake | P L A Q U E
37: Page Field is named in honor of Captain Channing Page, a local resident, World War I veteran and flying ace. He was the first Floridian to receive a commission into the Army Air Corps.
38: On the next page, from Left to Right: Kim - Fort Myers resident, group commander and flight instructor. Bob Martin - Fort Myers resident, WWII B24 and B29 pilot and a regular visitor to Page Field. Jack Rice - WWII fighter-pilot instructor at Page Field, visiting from Connecticut. Barry Bratton, Director of General Aviation at Page FIeld. Jim Cawthard - Chief Pilot for the Lee County Port Authority. Peter Modys - Deputy Executive Director of Aviation for the Lee County Port Authority.
40: Building Dedication Ceremony Ribbon Cutting
41: War birds lined the ramp on both sides outside the new bulk hangar. Visitors were encouraged to peruse the T-6, T-28, Stearman, and DC-3, just to name a few. Many of the aircraft were available for rides as well. A band was present to provide entertainment prior to the start of the days' proceedings.
42: Color Guard opens the dedication, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and a rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, sung by Mr. Bilde.
43: Lee County Commission Chairman, Frank Mann, took his first flight lesson at Page as a teenager. | Catherine "Kate" M. Lang, Federal Aviation Administration deputy associate director for airports spoke of a caring community. | National Guard General Craig R. McKinley traveled from Arlington, VA and thanked Lee County for keeping Page's legacy alive. | Executive Director Robert "Bob" Ball draws a laugh or two during his introduction speech.
44: A T28C and B25 "Killer Bee" shared the spotlight in the new Base Ops bulk hangar.
45: Executive Director Robert "Bob" Ball asked all veterans to please stand and be recognized for their courage and dedication | Commemorative medals were given to each veteran in attendance. The medal's front memorialized Base Ops' dedication day, while the back honored the men and women of the armed forces.
46: The Cake
47: An estimated 250 invited guests were in attendance. | Lee County Commission Chairman Frank Mann shares a moment with Commander Al Armstrong, a pilot of the CAF. | Avfuel representatives speak with Scott Sheets, Senior Manager at Base Ops | Guests enjoyed shopping in the new Base Ops Exchange
49: The girls of Base Ops Left to Right: Supervisor, Customer Service, Debra Barr, CSA Jeanette Greulich, & CSA Cheryl Morrison Not Shown: Blanca Davila & Jolene Adams
50: P-51 Mustang Fly-Over
51: Local Buckingham resident, Bud Skinner, was presented the Eagle Award in appreciation of his outstanding restoration of the AT-6 Texan training aircraft, known as "The Pilot-Maker" and shown behind him in the above picture.