North Las Vegas Airport was created by aviation enthusiasts Verald "Bud"
Barrett and J.M. and Florence Murphy, who opened the airfield as Sky Haven
Airport on December 7, 1941. The opening celebration was interrupted by
news of the air raid at Pearl Harbor, and a scheduled flying demonstration
The small airport became successful during World War II when it was
used by general aviation flyers and pilots from the Las Vegas Army Air
Base for off-duty flying. J.M. Murphy and Barrett enlisted in the Army
Air Corps as instructors, leaving Florence Murphy to operate Sky Haven
until the war ended in 1945. Legendary aviator Howard Hughes often flew
through the airport during its early years.
After the war, the Murphys sold their interest to Barrett, who operated
Sky Haven for a few more years. Barrett later sold his interest in Sky
Haven to Wes Durston, who changed its name to Thunderbird Field in the
1950s. In the early 1960s, the runways were paved, a new administration
building and restaurant were built, and the 40-unit Sky Rider Motel,
complete with an airplane-shaped swimming pool, opened for business.
In 1965, Ralph Englestad purchased Thunderbird Field and quickly sold
it to the City of North Las Vegas. City leaders renamed the site North
Las Vegas Air Terminal, then sold it to Howard Hughes' Summa Corp. in
1967. Seven years later, the facility became a reliever airport for
McCarran International, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
began providing air traffic control services. Summa continued to operate
the airport until Clark County purchased it in 1987. The county then
made a considerable investment to upgrade the airport, including a new
15,600-square-foot terminal building completed in 1992.
North Las Vegas Airport is now home to nearly 700 based aircraft and
25 commercial businesses. It’s the second-busiest airport in Nevada
based on total aircraft operations. General aviation activity, flight
instruction and a sightseeing airline made North Las Vegas one of the
100 busiest airports in the country in 2006.
North Las Vegas Airport continues to provide relief to busy McCarran
International by attracting general aviation flights away from its larger
sister airport. Small aircraft operators are enticed to North Las Vegas
through its combination of personalized customer service, competitive
fuel rates and first-class facilities.