Hawkins Field was Jackson’s first airport with an inaugural flight in 1929, but today it is largely forgotten.
However, that could be changing.
Jackson Municipal Airport Executive Director Carl Newman said a new manager has been named at Hawkins Field, and there are plans to upgrade the airport in an effort to increase the number of airplanes there.
“There should be 200 to 300 planes, but there are only about 100 currently there,” Newman said.
Newman said Sam Carver started three weeks ago as the airport manager. The Mississippi native has worked at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, and airports in Florida, Louisiana and most recently, Clemson, South Carolina.
“We really expect him to spend his time getting that airport back into shape,” Newman said. “We want it to be a first-class airport that citizens can be proud of.”
Newman said changing the main entrance from Industrial Drive to Woodrow Wilson Drive near the city’s Sonny Guy Golf Course is being considered. There is already an entrance off Woodrow Wilson that eventually will get to the airport, but it isn’t the main entrance.
Carver said the airport has great potential and a lot of assets that general aviation airports don’t have.
“We have a control tower; we have two runways, and we have an instrument landing system,” Carver said. “And we are in a great location, right close to downtown and the medical corridor.”
Hawkins Field provides direct access to Jackson’s hospitals and trauma units. Critical medical transport services are provided by air ambulance and helicopter to and from Hawkins Field.
Carver said the airport hasn’t had the attention it deserves. “So, we have some work to do,” he said.
Part of such work includes upgrading pavement and markings for aircraft.
“We want to make it a place that pilots want to come to,” Carver said. “We will work with the local community to bring Hawkins Field back to its full potential.”
Carver said renovation of facilities is also on the radar. The old terminal, he said, is a gem, and it would draw attention to Hawkins Field.
“I want Hawkins Field to be the welcome mat to downtown Jackson for people looking to relocate businesses,” Carver said.
Hawkins Field actually started in 1928 as Davis Field. About 150 acres were purchased for $53,500 to open it. In 1941, Hawkins Field was designated an Army Air Base and used as a pilot training center through 1949. It then reverted to civilian aviation status.
Once the Jackson Municipal Airport, now known as the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport, was constructed in the 1960s on land Jackson annexed in Rankin County, Hawkins Field basically catered to smaller aircraft.
Hawkins Field by the numbers