The history of U.S. commercial airports dates back to the earliest days of heavier-than-air flight as the Wright Brothers established a flying field near Dayton, Ohio, in 1904 to continue their experiments following their initial test flights in December 1903. Through World War I, most aviation facilities in the United States were temporary in nature—fairgrounds, golf courses, parks, or other open areas transformed into primitive flying fields to host early flying exhibitions.

The first permanent civilian airports appeared once the U.S. Post Office established its airmail service and local leaders around the country scrambled to establish landing fields so that their cities might claim a place in the emerging airmail system. The Post Office routes and the fields that served them mark the beginning of a ...

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