The history of Flying Cloud Airport begins with World War II and the need to train U.S. Navy pilots. In 1941, the Navy had arranged for use of a grass landing strip with local farmer Martin “Pappy” Grill. Navy planes stationed at old Wold-Chamberlain Field used the strip to make practice approaches.
When the Navy no longer needed the strip, Grill sold it, with some additional land, to Ken Osterberg and W. Beadie of American Aviation, Inc. By the fall of 1945, the 60-acre field was newly graded and seeded, and had two new wooden hangers and an administration building. John Stuber, the airfield manager, gave the airport its name – Flying Cloud. Originally, the airport was going to be called Southwest Minneapolis Airport. Stuber suggested that Flying Cloud would be a better name, one he felt reflected local Indian lore and flying.
In 1948, American Aviation sold the field to the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), a new agency created by the state legislature to own and operate a system of airports within the metropolitan area. MAC paved the runway the next year. In 1963, MAC built a control tower on the southwest side of the field. By 1966, the airport ranked second only to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport as the busiest field in the central United States. In 1968, the airport logged 446,198 “operations,” or take-offs and landings, making it the ninth busiest in the nation.
Today, Flying Cloud Airport is a well-used “reliever” airport in the MAC system of airports within the Twin Cities metropolitan area, logging approximately 120,000 operations annually. Operations include emergency medical evacuation units that service the local communities and area critical care centers.