History of Tallulah Airport
1930 Madison Journal Article
(Courtesy of E. Cecil Smith Scrapbook and Janet Byram Newsom)
Tallulah Established First Airport in Louisiana
Cotton Dusting Experiments Give Stimulus To Notable Enterprise
Landing Field Equipped With Modern Devices for Day and Night Flying; Beacon Light, With Range of 45 Miles, is Feature of Plant; Base for Delta Laboratory
Tallulah boasts the first municipal airport in the state of Louisiana. This was made possible through the co-operation of the Delta Laboratory of the United States Bureau of Entomology, which in 1922 established the port to experiment with the use of airplanes for cotton dusting. The use of the field, without charge, was extended to ships of every class, and has been the medium of much publicity for the town. Courteous service, combined with the accurate and detailed information available from the meteorological observatory on the field has brought the port to the attention of pilots, and Tallulah is known everywhere among fliers.
Here have been carried on some of the most spectacular experiments in the history of aviation, resulting in the perfection of the most effective method ever developed of combating the boll weevil and other insect pests known today.
Located two and a half miles from the center of the town, on a paved and graveled road, the airport is easily accessible to Tallulah.
The landing field covers an area 3400 feet by 1400 feet, but is in the midst of a clear level tract of land a which is maintained only as a pasture by the Scott estate, on whose property the airport is situated.
A sum exceeding $100,000 has been expended in construction and equipment of the airport, and of this Madison parish and Tallulah have contributed a small portion for drainage and grading. There is a hangar with space for eight planes, machine shops, a splendid service station, and the meteorological observatory located on the field.
It was developed out of the need for accurate and technical weather facts in carrying on the laboratory research into the lives and habits of destructive insects, but it has served to furnish more complete information to pilots than is available at other fields. The chief meteorologist and his assistant, I. W. Tate, through their training and the extensive scientific equipment of the observatory, are enabled to make up a daily map of weather conditions at 78 other ports in the United States and Canada. Four wind aloft readings are taken every day and at night when the department planes go up.
A Standard Zenith airway beacon, on a 51-foot tower and revolving six times every minute, can be seen for a distance of 45 miles from the field. A 10 k. w. floodlight and border and obstruction lights insure a minimum of safety in night flying from this port.
Two expert mechanics and four helpers are in attendance for emergency service, and three electrically operated service pits strategically located make it possible to care for six airplanes at one time.
A contract for carrying mail was recently awarded by the United States Postoffice department to a commercial line operating through a Tallulah although as yet the town has not been officially designated as an airmail stop. It is expected, however, that Tallulah will be eventually a named as one of the stops. This was predicted by General McCormick in an address made at the dedication of the Mississippi river bridge at Vicksburg a few months ago.
Army Pilots Preferred
In the work of the Delta laboratory airport, when it was first established, in the early days of dusting experiments, army pilots were detailed to the port, but during the past five years civilian pilots have been employed. However, recognizing the superior training given in the army, only army trained men are used.
George McGinley, chief pilot, was first stationed at the field while a lieutenant in the United States air service, and later resigned his commission to return to the Delta Laboratory. He is a native of Nebraska and has been flying since 1919.
J. F. Payne, a native of Natchitoches. La., has been at the field for five years. He received his training at Brooks and Kelly Fields, and was engaged in commercial dusting before coming to the Tallulah field.
R. G. Long, chief airplane mechanic, is also a rigger and parachute packer. He served in the army during the World war and left the air service in 1925 to come to the Tallulah airport.