Airport History and Progress
Early Airfield Development
Constructed in 1941 as an auxiliary landing field to train Naval Aviators during World War II, the Airport was named West Prospect Field. The Federal Government deeded the property to the City of Fort Lauderdale in 1947 to be used as a public airport and the airport was unofficially named “Fort Lauderdale Municipal Airport,” but pilots called it “Prospect Field.” In 1959, the City of Fort Lauderdale’s City Commission Resolution # 7336 changed the airport’s name to “Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.” “Industrial Airpark” was added to the name in 1966.
Activities at the airport have always reflected
the prevailing conditions in the local area. When
a public airport, it was in a remote part of Fort
Lauderdale, with little or no development nearby.
During those early years, the runways were used
more for drag racing than for aircraft takeoffs and
To help bring economic development into the area
and create job opportunities, the City established
the Airport Industrial Board and sold Airport land
to companies like Allied Signal Bendix and Harris
Computer Corporation. Funds from these land sales
were used for airfield improvements such as taxiway
construction, lighting systems, and guidance signs.
The first building on the Airport, a flight school
maintenance hangar constructed in 1959, is still in
Over the following decades and as business
development boomed in Fort Lauderdale, that
first hangar grew to over 450 hangars housing
more than 700 aircraft, including about 115
jets and 37 helicopters.
Today, six full service Fixed Base Operators, or
FBOs, provide fueling, maintenance, and other services
to these aircraft doing business here and bringing
people to the area. Related business, such as charter
companies, interior refurbishing companies, flight
schools, and avionics shops, also successfully established
themselves at Executive Airport.
Fueled by the phenomenal economic activity in South
Florida, total aircraft operations grew significantly
over the decades. Today, the airport handles nearly
200,000 annual takeoffs and landings, making it one of the busiest general aviation airports in the country,
based on the number of aircraft operations.
Industrial Airpark Development
Business has blossomed in the airport's
200 acre Industrial Airpark. This growth direction
resulted from the efforts of the City and the Airport
Board, renamed the Aviation Advisory Board. Their
efforts developed Executive Airport as a business
and executive facility
and minimized its role as a sport and recreational
In 1974, as economic development began to
unfold in Fort Lauderdale and real estate development
boomed, the City decided to stop the practice
of selling airport land and instituted a lease-only
policy, thereby ensuring a continuing revenue
stream for the airport Enterprise Fund.
Today over 125 individual businesses call the
Industrial Airpark home, including Elite Panel
Products, Telematics, Marriott Hotels, Citicorp
Latino, Walgreens, Dry Clean USA, Lucent Technologies,
and General Electric.
These non-aviation businesses occupy more than 1.3
million square feet of office and warehouse space
and make the Executive Airport Industrial Airpark
the 16th largest in the tri-county area. In recognition
of Executive Airport's economic importance in the
community, it was made a Division of the Community
and Economic Development Department of the City in
Community Facilities at the Airport
In addition to promoting economic development, Executive
Airport also became home to a number of diverse community-based
activities. The U.S. Army Reserve Center's 841st Engineering
Battalion is located on the field. The Center is named
for Sandy Nininger, a Fort Lauderdale native and the
first recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor
The City of Fort Lauderdale Police Department has
a substation and a hangar at the airport. The Broward
Sheriff's Office (BSO) maintains its special
operations, such as the aviation unit, marine patrol,
bomb squad, and canine units, here.
The airport also contains two fire stations. The on-airport one
is dedicated to aircraft rescue and operates a state-of-the-art
1500-gallon pump and roll vehicle that can also fight
structural fires in the Uptown area. The other is
located in the Industrial Airpark and is used to
fight building fires.
Buehler Aviation Research, part of a nationally recognized
foundation, restores aircraft for the Smithsonian
Institution. The group restored the Howard Hughes
Grumman Goose currently on display at the Smithsonian
Air and Space Museum and recently constructed a replica
of Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Electra. Also, Florida
Atlantic University and Barry University offer educational
programs from facilities located on the property.
The airport is also home to two of Florida's
rare species. Gopher Tortoises are primarily
located in a secluded area on the north side
of the airport. The area is made up of rare
native plants and serves as a shelter and nesting
ground for these rare creatures.
The other species is the Burrowing
Owl, which has nests scattered throughout the
airfield. PVC pipes shaped like "Ts"
mark their nests so that they are visible to
the Airport's maintenance crews and also serve
as a place for the owls to perch during the
A recent statewide population survey of the
Florida Burrowing Owl conducted by the University
of Central Florida and the Audubon Society
counted 79 resident burrowing owls
and 49 active
burrows at the airport.
In an effort to minimize disruption to the owls,
Executive Airport schedules its construction projects
so as not to interfere with the owls' breeding or