MINERAL WELLS, Texas (Tribune News Service) — An airfield the Army built to support its Camp Wolters marked its 80th year by inviting the public to watch the planes fly in and enjoy refreshments on the tarmac.

“I like the choppers,” Lester Woodruff said of the helicopters that joined the party.

The Mineral Wells resident brought his son, Aaron to enjoy the event.

“Eighty years old,” he said, recalling the specialty craft that landed and took off here during last summer’s wildfires. “For a little bitty town, this airport holds some big, big planes. They’d land in here and load up, and they’d take off and go down to Possum Kingdom and put it out.”

Airport Manager Haley Cuevas recalled the airfield was built in 1943 by the U.S. Army to support its training camp in Mineral Wells.

“The base was really densely populated, with training and families, so everything that comes with that,” she said. “When Camp Wolters slowed down after the war, the government gave the airport to the city. That’s why it’s so sturdy and big. That’s why the runways are so long.”

Runway 13/31 was shorter then than today’s 6,000 feet, and runway 17/35, at 4,100 feet, remains a ready backup.

Haley, who marks her own first anniversary in the terminal Tuesday, expressed pride with the job the city has done since accepting the facility.

“People think it’s a gift, but it’s a big undertaking to take on something this large,” she said. “So, I applaud the city for keeping it open and not letting it go derelict.”

Operating at roughly 70 percent small-piston propellor and 30 percent jet aircraft, both commercial and private, the airport is on a mission to play an economic development role for Mineral Wells.

Cuevas shared she recently met with the Parker County Economic Development Corp. The 500-acre airport, like the city that owns it, straddles Parker and Palo Pinto counties.

Cuevas said Mineral Wells Economic Development Corp. Executive Director David Hawes also sends connections and business prospects her way.

“We have a lot of flight schools,” she added. “It’s interesting to see all the different companies that come out here to talk to us, to have, here in this area, companies that are very nontraditional for a small, general aviation airport.”

She indicated the sky’s the limit for the coming years.

“People are hearing about us,” she said. “They know that there’s land available, they want to have these conversations. and it’s exciting to see that. It seems it’ll bring more jobs.”

(c)2023 Weatherford Democrat (Weatherford, Texas)

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(Mineral Wells Regional Airport/Facebook)

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