Dan Netcher put articles in the Ely Times on April 1 and on May 13, 2011. “The headlines in the White Pine News on July 6, 1913. This marks the first time that aircraft flew in Ely and only the second time aircraft flew in the State of Nevada.”
Frank H. Burnside was the pilot of the first plane and there was debate as to if the plane could take off because of the 6000 ft. elevation. The plane landed on Eleventh Street and Avenue D.
The early history of the airport in the 20’s and 30’s has been hard to establish, but early records include the 1926 flights of Carl Ooley. At that time regulations were simple, “Never leave the ground with a motor leaking” or “Pilots will not wear spurs while flying.”
In the mid 30’s Seagull Lines operated an air charter service and the dedication of the airport is reported to have been in 1938.
Ely airport/Yelland Field was an important factor in the development of the strong Army and Naval Air Forces during WWII. The airport was expanded with President R. D. Roosevelt’s Civil Aeronautics Act (CAA) of 1938. This Act had colleges and universities train up to 20,000 pilots per year. Ely became a training facility in 1940. White Pine High School and anyone under 28 were able to apply. Eight students passed, two were women.
May 13, 1941, Sen. McCarran arranged for the Ely airport to receive $350,000 for runway improvements and lights.
The airport provided Young Eagle Flights free on Friday mornings for many years.
In Ely, air service has come and gone over the years. Why? Cost, lack of passengers, or airport condition. The private owned airplanes stored at the airport have decreased to about 10 planes. Most of this decline is because of the age or medical conditions of the pilots. Perhaps someday, Ely and White Pine County will have commercial flights again. Until that time, we still need to keep our airport in top condition.