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Cuyahoga County Airport History
The Cuyahoga County Airport (CGF), Robert D. Shea Field is situated on 660 acres of land located in Richmond Heights, Highland Heights and Willoughby Hills. The Cuyahoga County Airport is a Reliever Airport to Cleveland Hopkins International, and serves the people of Eastern Cuyahoga County, and Western Lake and Geauga Counties. The airport primarily services private and business aircraft, with Cleveland Hopkins International Airport serving as the commercial airport for scheduled airline service in the region.
Cuyahoga County has owned and operated the Cuyahoga County Airport since 1946. The airport’s operation is funded by tenant ground leases, fixed annual rents, hangar fees, and fees on fuel sales, aircraft landing and parking. A 100-acre office/industrial park is located on airport-owned land, and includes office space, and light manufacturing and service companies housed in five buildings. There currently are more than 1200 people employed at the various businesses located at County Airport.
The Cuyahoga County Airport (CGF) was originally acquired and developed by Curtiss Wright in 1928, with the original County Hangar Building being constructed in 1929, by the Cleveland contracting firm of Albert A. Higley and Sons. It was operated by Curtiss Wright until closed as a privately-owned Airport in 1930. The Airport site remained inactive until nearly the end of World War II.
In the spring of 1946, the voters of Cuyahoga County approved a general obligation bond issue for the acquisition of an Airport in the amount of $510,000. They subsequently purchased the Curtiss Wright Field in December of 1946. In September of 1949, the 271-acre Curtiss Wright Field, also known as the Richmond Road Airport, was opened for business. The County officially opened the Airport on May 30, 1950.
In 1956, Cuyahoga County retained an engineering firm to develop a master plan for the future of the Airport The master plan called for two (2) runways, hangar facilities and other service area developments for private and business aviation and suggested the development of a “feeder type” airport supporting Cleveland's facilities.
By the late 1950’s, major expansion of the County Airport had begun. It included the construction of the first runway in 1959 and later its expansion in 1962. Further development included the acquisition and installation of instrument approach facilities, the construction of a concrete apron and a paved entry road.
The 1960’s also brought the Cuyahoga County Airport its first two Fixed Based Operators. The growth of air traffic prompted various Airport improvements, and an additional study of land use on and adjacent to the Airport.
The growth of air traffic prompted various Airport improvements, and an additional study of land use on and adjacent to the Airport. A continued rise in aircraft traffic attracted other activity and helped spur increased public use and interest in the Airport.
In 1970, the County purchased a mobile Air Traffic Control Tower and opened one of the only "non‑federal" Control Towers in the United States. The facility was taken over by the FAA on May 15, 1971.
By the 1980’s discussion turned towards developing the adjacent land into office space and an industrial park. In 1984, a 42,000 square foot office building on the flight line became known as the Destination Building. In 1987, a second building of 90,000 square feet was completed. Expansion of the Airport Industrial Park and Curtis Wright Corporate Center II continued throughout the 1990’s.
On October 31, 1991, Aviation Administrator Robert D. Shea, retired after 42 years of dedicated service. In tribute, Cuyahoga County changed the name of the Airport to Cuyahoga County Airport, Robert D. Shea Field.
As the millennium approached the Cuyahoga County Airport celebrated its own milestone, the 50 th anniversary of the Airport under County operation. At the time, the facilities included 6, office buildings in the Industrial Park, an Administrative Safety and Service complex, 15 hangar facilities and 2 tie down areas to accommodate the 198 based aircraft, a flight school, US Customs, the FAA Air Traffic Control Tower, the18 hole golf course and an employee base in excess of 2000.
In August 2003 the Airport Division, now under the auspices of the Cuyahoga County Department of Development, was awarded an FAA grant to assist with a Master Plan Update and Runway Safety Area Study Project. The goal of the study is to take a fresh look at present and future capability of the Airport facility to meet the needs of it corporate and general aviation users and the community, both now and for the next twenty years.
Throughout the years, Cuyahoga County Airport has served as host for several community events including the Western Reserve Historical Society’s Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum’s 25 th Anniversary Meet, the Epilepsy Foundation and Multiple Sclerosis Society have used the space on Airport grounds for their respective Mud Volleyball Tournaments.
Today, the Airport continues to provide first -rate service to the local business community and is a major economic development engine. Prominent Northeast Ohio businesses continue to utilize the Cuyahoga County Airport’s facilities because it allows them to operate their business in a productive and efficient manner