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Airport Info
Early History

Once Upon a Time in 1923 ...

Airplane - F 86 SabrejetsThe first Friends of Ontario Airport landed an airplane on a dirt patch near San Antonio Avenue and the Union Pacific railroad track. The aircraft was a Curtiss JN4 "Jenny" and the first airport was called Latimer Field, named after the orange-packing company next to the airstrip. The first Friends were Archie Delwood Mitchell, Waldo Waterman, Hugh Wolfe, Allan Couch, and several others.

After the move from Latimer Field to the southwest corner of the current airport, the landing field became known as Ontario Airport for the first time. The first Ontario Airport was set up near the Union Pacific railroad track, and pilots gauged the direction and strength of the wind by observing the smoke from locomotives passing below.

If Archie Mitchell was the heart of Ontario Airport, Waldo Waterman was the hands. The most experienced of Ontario's early aviators, Waterman was instructor, mechanic and aeronautical engineer. Waterman also loved to fly and, according to one local resident who still remembers: "We would go to Sunday school, then ditch church and got to the airport. For two dollars or so, Waterman would take us up for about a half hour trip around the Valley."

Waterman

In The Early 1940's

Along with the rest of the nation, Ontario International Airport was consumed by World War II, and the need for military security probably accounts for the scarcity of photographs of the airport during the war years. But it was to accommodate the war effort that ONT was changed from the dirt field of the 30s to a modern airfield with concrete runways, an air traffic control tower and an instrument landing system.

In 1942, two concrete runways were constructed at ONT with funds from the Works Progress Administration. The 6,200' east/west runway and the 4,700' northeast/southwest runway formed the basic configuration that was to serve the airport for the next 39 years. The cost of the two runways in 1942 was $350,000. When the airport lengthened the runways in 1981 to its current lengths, the cost was $20 million.

The P-38 "Lightning" was the first military aircraft to be seen with any regularity at ONT. Built by Lockheed in Burbank, the P-38s were flown at ONT by pilot trainees in the US Army Air Corps.

The 1950's saw dynamic growth at Ontario International Airport (the airfield was designated "International" in 1946). Three major aircraft plants including Lockheed, Douglas and Northrop had facilities at ONT. The airport was enjoying the postwar prosperity spreading across the country.

F 86 Sabrejets 

F 86 Sabrejets of the 163rd Fighter Group lined up on the California Air National Guard ramp at Ontario International in 1963. All three of ONT's north runway extensions were funded by the Air Guard to accommodate faster aircraft.

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