Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport
|Owner||City of Bridgeport|
|Operator||Sikorsky Memorial Airport Operations and Safety Department|
|Hub for||Tailwind Air Service|
|Elevation AMSL||9 ft / 3 m|
Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport (IATA: BDR, ICAO: KBDR, FAA LID: BDR) is a public airport in Fairfield County, Connecticut, owned by the city of Bridgeport. It is three miles (6 km) southeast of downtown, in the town of Stratford. It was formerly Bridgeport Municipal Airport.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2017–2021 categorized it as a general aviation facility. It has three Fixed-Base Operators (FBO's) and several private hangars.
The airport was originally Avon Field, a racetrack where aircraft landed on the grass infield. It was the site of the country's first air show held in 1911, on the grounds of what is now St. Michaels Cemetery. It became known as Mollison Field after Captain Jim Mollison's crash landing there in 1933 during an attempt to fly across the Atlantic. The City of Bridgeport purchased the airport in 1937, after which it became Bridgeport Municipal Airport.
In 1972 it was rededicated as the Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport, honoring the airport's most famous tenant, Igor Sikorsky, who selected Stratford as the site for his Sikorsky Aviation Corporation in 1929.
In the 1950s American Airlines stopped at Bridgeport, one Convair a day; American left in 1960. Allegheny Airlines then provided service until 1976.
In the 1980s the airport was served by five carriers or their regional affiliates: Business Express Airlines, Continental Airlines, Piedmont Airlines, US Air and United Express. In 1992 airlines flew from Bridgeport to several cities in the northeast, including Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Boston and Newark.
The airport has been the subject of heated debate in Stratford and Bridgeport. While the City of Bridgeport owns the airport, the whole property is in the Town of Stratford. Before the end of World War II little more than salt marshes surrounded the airport, but in the 1950s and 1960s Stratford permitted extensive residential development in the Lordship area near the airfield. Bridgeport has pushed for runway and terminal expansion, hoping to attract new service to the airport, arguing that service to the airport is necessary for the growth of Bridgeport's economy. Stratford has opposed terminal expansion and runway lengthening that would interfere with existing roads. Even when the airport was served by major carriers, Stratford advocated for limits on flights because of noise in the Lordship and South End neighborhoods. In 2003 the Federal Aviation Administration mandated the lengthening of the two runways with unpaved safety overruns at each end. Stratford and Connecticut officials have resisted the FAA effort to install the overruns, but the FAA has notified Stratford, Bridgeport and state officials that it may obtain a federal court order to use eminent domain to complete the overruns.
In June 2006 US Helicopter began scheduled flights to New York's Downtown Manhattan Heliport, continuing to John F. Kennedy International Airport. This was the first airline service since 1999. On September 25, 2009 US Helicopter suddenly shut down.
In February 2007 state legislators from Bridgeport, in an effort to force expansion, introduced legislation allowing the State of Connecticut to take over the airport. Officials from Stratford would prefer the town take ownership of the airport and oppose the proposed state takeover.
In the year ending February 28, 2019, the airport averaged 136 aircraft operations per day: 94% general aviation, 6% air taxi, and <1% military. 155 aircraft were based at the airport: 107 single-engine, 32 jet, 10 multi-engine, 5 helicopter, and one glider.
At over 800 acres, the airport has room for a number of airships, usually moored south of the 11-29 runway. Often blimps use Sikorsky as a base for flyovers of regional sporting events because of lack of space at other airports, security concerns, and avoiding controlled airspace around cities and larger airports. Approximately 20 dockings are made per year. Visitors have included the Ameriquest, Fuji, Hood,. Metlife, and Monster.Com airships.
Stratford Eagles Composite Squadron
The Stratford Eagles Composite Squadron is a member group of the non-profit and all-volunteer Connecticut Wing Civil Air Patrol, which is an official auxiliary of the United States Air Force, carrying the designation NER-CT-022. It performs various duties such as pilot training, search and rescue, disaster relief, and fire watch.
Formed in 1963, the group moved to its present World War II era barracks on west side of the airport at 1100 Stratford Road in 1972. A predecessor group of the same name had been active in spotting German U-boats and air-sea rescue operations during the war from the airfield.
In September 2016 Major Kenneth Fortes was named squadron commander, and was the first African-American to lead a Connecticut Wing squadron. As of May 2018, the current squadron commander is Captain Robert Talley.
Curtiss and Sikorsky hangars
A historically important structure on the airport's grounds is the Curtiss Hangar, built in 1928 by Glenn Curtiss. The hangar served as the home of a branch of the Curtiss Flying School for several years. In 1930, Sikorsky began flying boat production next to the hangar including the Pan AM Clipper. Early Sikorsky helicopter development, including the first practical helicopter, the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300 occurred on the grounds.
The Curtiss hangar was referred to as "Hangar 1", while the Sikorsky hangar was referred to as "Hangar 2".
Howard Hughes kept aircraft in the hangar, Amelia Earhart visited, and Charles Lindbergh test piloted the Vought V-173 "Flying Pancake" in the 1940s.. During World War II 8000 Chance-Vought F4U Corsair fighter-bombers were produced across the street and flown from the hangar for the war in the Pacific. The XF4U prototype was stored in the hangar.
In 2018 the Connecticut Air and Space Center announced that the hangar is being restored into a museum of flight focusing on locally manufactured aircraft including a Chance-Vought F4U Corsair, a replica of the Gustave Whitehead 1901 flyer and a Sikorsky S-60 helicopter.
Airlines and destinations
|Tailwind Air Service||Boston, New Bedford, New York-Skyport|
- In October 2018 an emergency landing was made by a L-39 Albatros, a Czechoslovakian-made jet trainer after it lost a piece of its landing gear. There were no injuries.
- In May 2017 the World War II B-17 bomber Yankee Lady visited the airport. It was then one of nine operational B-17 bombers in the world.
- On 27 September 2013 the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics named the airport and the former Vought – Sikorsky Aircraft Plant as an aerospace historic landmark.
- In 1999, scheduled air service were halted.
- On April 27, 1994 a chartered aircraft overshot the 6-24 runway and struck a fence, killing eight of the nine aboard.
- In June 1933 a de Havilland Dragon named "Seafarer" flown by Jim Mollison and Amy Johnson crashed-landed. The aviators survived but the plane was a complete loss.
- Connecticut World War II Army Airfields
- List of airports in Connecticut
- Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Bridge
- Sikorsky Aircraft
- PDF. Federal Aviation Administration. Effective May 31, 2012.
- "List of NPIAS Airports" (PDF). FAA.gov. Federal Aviation Administration. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
- "The History of Lordship!". lordshiphistory.com.
- History of Sikorsky Memorial Airport Archived 2007-08-08 at the Wayback Machine from City of Bridgeport website
- The View from - Sikorsky Memorial Airport from New York Times website
- Small Airports: Convenience and Limits from New York Times website
- AirNav: KBDR
- personal calendar
- "Remarks at the Bridgeport Municipal Airport, Stratford, Connecticut, 17 October 1962". www.jfklibrary.org.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sikorsky Memorial Airport.|
- Sikorsky Memorial Airport at City of Bridgeport website
- Lordship aviation history
- Aerial image as of April 1991 from USGS The National Map
- (PDF), effective November 5, 2020
- FAA Terminal Procedures for BDR, effective November 5, 2020
- Resources for this airport: