Historic Pearson Field

Pearson Air & Field Museum

Pearson Field is noted as one of the oldest continuously operating airfields in the United States. Documented use of the area dates to the early 1800s when it was farmed to feed residents of adjacent Fort Vancouver.

When the U.S. Army came to Vancouver in the mid-1800s, this area south of the barracks was used for ammunition storage, a blacksmith shop and garden. It was later popular as a polo field. In 1905, Lincoln Beachey piloted the dirigible Gelatine to Vancouver Barracks in the first aerial crossing of the Columbia River. In 1911, the field's first airplane landed there.

During World War I, a spruce mill was established for mass production of wood components for military aircraft. The mill played an important role in the modernization of America's early aircraft industry. From 1923 to 1941, Pearson was home to the U.S. Army Air Service and many key events during the "Golden Age of Flight." One of its first commanders, Lt. Oakley Kelly, made the first non-stop transcontinental flight in 1923.

In 1924, Pearson Field was a stopover on the army's first round-the world-flight. In 1937, Soviet aviator Valeri Chkalov and crew landed there at the end of history's first non- stop, trans-polar flight. Over the years, the field was visited by such notables as Charles Lindbergh, Jimmy Doolittle, Eddie Rickenbacker and squadrons of barnstormers. Two occupants of an adjacent commercial field, Pacific Air Transport and VarneyAirlines, later joined with two other companies to form United Airlines.

Pearson Field was named in 1925 after Lt. Alexander Pearson, "one of the best known and finest pilots in the Air Service." Pearson attended high school in Vancouver, won the first cross-country air race in 1919 and made the first aerial survey of the Grand Canyon. He was killed while preparing for an air race in 1924.

After World War II, the airfield was declared surplus by the U.S. Army and sold to the City of Vancouver.

The western portion of the Pearson Field runway sits on property owned by the National Park Service. In 2010, the City and Park Service signed a 40-year lease agreement that will allow Pearson to continue to operate as a general aviation airfield.

For more information, visit the website below.

Pearson Field Airport Vancouver, WA