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  Sunday, November 29, 2015    
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Cecil Airport History

Cecil Airport has a long and proud history of service to the nation.  In early 1941, when it appeared likely that the United States would be involved in World War II, flight training at NAS Jacksonville increased tremendously.  It soon became apparent that additional facilities would be required to train this influx of student pilots, so in June of that year, the Navy purchased 2,600 acres in southwestern Duval County for $16,851.  Construction of a new air facility progressed rapidly, and within six months, flight operations began, partially easing the heavy flight training schedule at NAS Jacksonville.  In February 1943, the field was commissioned as the U.S. Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) Cecil Field, in honor of Commander Henry Barton Cecil, USN, who died in the crash of the dirigible Akron in 1933.

NAS Cecil Field operated at full capacity during the war years but was reduced to a caretaker status when the war ended.  It remained in this status until November 1948, when it was selected as the home base for two carrier air groups, consisting of approximately 200 aircraft.  In January 1949, Carrier Air Group 17 arrived at Cecil Field with the only jet squadron on the east coast.  One month later, Carrier Air Group One and Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron Nine reported, and NAAS Cecil Field once again became fully operational.

Further stimulus to the growth of the station was given when it was selected for development as a master jet base. Early in 1951, the Navy purchased an additional 2,000 acres, and by July of that year, a multimillion-dollar construction program was underway.  Four 8,000-foot runways in right-angled pairs and new buildings were constructed to serve the station's expanding population.  On June 30, 1952, NAAS Cecil Field was re-designated NAS Cecil Field.
In 1993, Naval Air Station Cecil Field was announced for closure by action of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.  On October 1, 1999, the 6,000 acre airport portion of the former Naval Air Station Cecil Field was transferred from the U. S. Navy to the Jacksonville Port Authority, predecessor to the current owner, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA). Cecil Field has operated under the management of the JAA as a “General Aviation” airport within the FAA’s National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems since then. 

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority, the City of Jacksonville and many other partners and stakeholders have been actively involved in the reuse and redevelopment of Cecil Airport. While there have been many successes, the dynamics within the commercial aviation and defense sectors have changed substantially over the past few years.


-  1941 - Navy opens an airfield on the westside and names it in honor of CDR Henry Barton Cecil
-  1945 -  Cecil Field closed by the Navy at the end of World War II
-  1948 - Cecil Field reopened by the Navy
-  1952 – 1999 – Cecil Field developed and operates as a U.S. Navy Master Jet Base
-  1993 – U.S. Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommends closure of NAS Cecil Field
Cecil Field Development Commission formed by Jacksonville’s Mayor Ed Austin
-  1996 – Mayor’s Commission finalizes the Cecil Field Base Reuse Plan
- 1997 – Jacksonville City council approves Cecil Field Base Reuse Plan
-  1998 – Jacksonville Port Authority Board of Directors approves the Cecil Field Strategic Airport Master Plan
-  1999 – Environmental Impact Statement for reuse of Cecil Field completed and approved
U.S. Navy holds Decommissioning and Transition Ceremony and NAS  Cecil Field is closed
Jacksonville Port Authority (JPA) accepts quitclaim deed from the Department of the Navy for the airport     parcel
-  2000 – City accepts quitclaim deed from the Department of the Navy for the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission (JEDC)  Parcel
JPA begins receiving FAA “Military Airport Program” funding for airport   projects
JEDC’s Cecil Field Operations/Business Plan complete
Better Jacksonville Plan approved including an Equestrian Center & Aquatic Center at Cecil
-  2001 – Demolition of more than one million square. feet of obsolete structures completed
Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) created
-  2002 – Florida State College of Jacksonville’s Aviation Center of Excellence opens
-  2003 – Airport activity at Cecil Field exceeds 86,000 annual flight operations
-  2004 – Cecil Equestrian and Aquatic Center completed
-  2005 – New World Ave. south of Normandy Blvd. completed
Cecil Field hosts more than 1,200 flight operations associated with Super Bowl XXXIX
-  2006 – Cecil Commerce Center receives official “Megasite” development designation

 Local referendum to return Cecil to the Navy for use as a master jet base voted down
-  2007 – Cecil Field named as FDOT’s “General Aviation airport of the Year”

 FCCJ opens the first phase of the new Cecil Center
 New World Avenue north of Normandy Blvd. completed
 JAA completes Master Site Development Plan for Cecil Field

-  2008 – JEDC completes Master Site Development Plan for Cecil Commerce Center
Bridgestone opens 1 million sq ft distribution facility

-  2009 - Florida State College at Jacksonville opens Air Traffic Control school at its Cecil Center

 Cecil Field/Cecil Commerce Center celebrates 10 year anniversary
 JAA hosts more than 27,000 attendees at the Cecil Field Airshow
 Cecil Commerce Center Parkway and new interchange at I-10 opens
 Florida Army National Guard constructs an additional hangar at Cecil

 -  2010 – Saft America, Inc breaks ground for $200 million high-tech battery plant

 JAA, FSCJ and Flightstar break ground on $20 million Aircraft Services Educational Facility
 JAA is issued an FAA Commercial Space Transportation License
 JAA welcomes Fleet Readiness Center Southeast into newly constructed hangar
 Hillwood/Alliance Florida and JEDC sign a 25 year development agreement

 -  2011 – JAA undergoes a rebranding and Cecil Field is renamed Cecil Airport

 -Aircraft Services Educational Facility hangar completed
  -LSI, Inc. completes building expansion and establishes Cecil Airport as company headquarters
  -Cecil Airport is designated a Strategic Intermodal System (SIS) Plan-Add Facility
  -Cecil Spaceport is designated as a Space Territory under Florida Statue 331 by Space Florida

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