The Adirondack Regional Airport, also known as the Saranac Lake Regional Airport is located in Lake Clear, New York. It opened in 1942.
The airport is an official weather reporting station. As it is also at the bottom of a topographic bowl in a region known for cold temperatures, it frequently reports very cold temperatures, that are reported as being from Saranac Lake. These facts are responsible for Saranac Lake being listed among the ten locales most frequently reporting the lowest temperature in the contiguous United States. 1
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 9, 1999
A timeline history of the Adirondack Regional Airport
By DEBORAH J. DONALDSON
The Adirondack Regional Airport has come a long way since 1943. That is when the first runways were built by the US Army Corp of Engineers with the contracting company being only construction co.
It was to be used for the military during WWII. But was never used for that. At that time there were two runways built, making a triangle. In the late 1940's a third runway was added. All three runways were 4000 feet long. The land had been donated by Paul Smith's College.
In 1944 Charles Keough was a member of the first crew that landed at the new airport. He flew the Flying Fortess from Sioux City, Iowa to Lake Clear.
In a previous conversation with Charles he had mentioned that there was an runway of sorts, up at what we now call the potato field before the Fish Hatchery. I am told that some planes did land there in the late 1930's. Interesting! Good thing they were not as large as our planes now!
Al Shortt and George LaPan were the two men that promoted the soon to be airport and Harrietstown taking over the property. The first manager was Mel Butcher around 1945 or '46. Mel had a flight school there and with the help of Karl Griebsch they both gave flight instructions to promote aviation. After Mel Butcher left as Airport Manager, Mr. Dale Paye became Airport Caretaker and next in line was a Mr. Finn.
On July 10, 1949 the Airport was dedicated. Harold C. Rideout was the Airport Manager. The Harrietstown Town Board members at that time included: Hubert G. Miller, Supervisor, Frank E. Sheldon, A. Douglas Bombard, Gordon Vosburgh, Ralph B. Leonard, Clyde C. Cheesman and Matthew M. Munn, Town Clerk.
In 1946 direct airline service was started by Resort Airlines and Colonial Airlines. Service from Lake Clear to Laguardia Airport would cost you $16 for a 90-minute flight. Wonder what happened to that price?
In the winter months Resort Airline went to Florida and was here during the summer. Colonial Airline was absorbed by Eastern Airlines around 1955-1956. Mohawk Airlines took over in 1962. It is said that some of the Eastern pilots still stop at Lake Clear to visit. Mohawk merged with Allegheny in 1972 and changed the name to US Air. They then turned all north country routes over to Air North of Burlington, Vt. Air North ceased with Clinton Aero of Pittsburgh taking over. Brockway bought Clinton Aero and then sold to Trans World Express, a TWA commuter. TWE went belly up in the late 1990's and Commutair began to serve Lake Clear in the spring of 1991. They are now serving the airport as US Airways Commuter.
Now that we've got the airlines taken care of we need some airport managers. After Mr. Finn left James Shapiro took over as Airport Manager in the mid '50s.
His contract was not renewed by Harrietstown in 1960. In the late 1950s Jack and Dick Finegan had been flying rental airplanes in and out of the airport and decided that it needed some cleaning up. So they both went out on their time off and tried to clean up brush, etc. Because of this they were asked if they would consider operating the airport. Jack as Manager and Dick as Assistant. Their first official day as Managers was June 1, 1960. Dick retired in December 1, 1990 and Jack retired in December 1995. Next was Jake McGish for about two weeks. Roy Rosenbacker was hired in Mar. 1996 until May of 1998.
Dave Pittman was interim manager from May 1998 to November 1998. Mike Dikun came on board in November 1998. Mike came from Bozman, Mont, where he was airport safety officer for seven years. He's no stranger to airport work. In Bozman there were four airlines, jet service and around 200,000 people in and out of that airport.
It is about 90 miles north of Yellowstone. Mike was busy there but here it is a different busy. He has 4 full/part-time employees and does a little of everything himself. Mike has recently secured several financial grants which will help the airport. But then the day I saw him he was trying on gas masks! We hope you like our area Mike and enjoy your work here.
Back to the terminal. It was originally one large room in 1948. When James Shapiro was manager he had a work shop along side the building. That is were the kitchen is now for the restaurant.
The larger room was to maintain the radios. Eva Soliwoda was the first person to operate a lunch counter in 1962. She was the one who had the original counter built. Next to take over was Nora Clark, who ran the restaurant until 1980. Barbara Jaquis was next, then Bob and Pat Prevost, Sandy Strack, Sylvia Brockway, at which- time some changes were made. Shelia Perryman took over, then back to Sylvia Brockway and now the restaurant is run by Tom Phillips.
The terminal building also has an office upstairs. Until 1972 it was empty. Then office space was added for the men that were working on the runways. Now FAA leases two offices. Another room is used for the Board room and for training. In 1992 the new terminal building was added which is leased by the present airlines and Hertz. At that time there was work done on the original building to update that.
I don't think that any of us realize how much money the Lake Clear airport does bring into our area. Its a big help to people coming to Lake Placid, Trudeau, and AMA. I think we all owe a debt of thanks to George LaPan and Al Shortt who had the foresight to get the airport up and to keep it running.
Like Mike Dikun says. "You just don't realize how many people use this airport and the money that they are bringing into our area." A very special thanks goes to Mike Dikun and especially to Jack Finegan for all your help.
Unidentified news clipping dated October 26, 1942 from a scrapbook of the Adirondack Research Room
5,000 Cars Roll Over Airport for First Inspection
Most of the people in Saranac Lake who are still rolling on rubber and have an "A" sticker, and most of those who are not so lucky but who have a friend who has four tires, visited the Town of Harrietstown airport yesterday afternoon.
In addition, possibly half of the citizenry from the surrounding countryside and neighboring villages journeyed to the 'port to give their personal inspection to the first public preview showing.
Between 5,000 and 6,000 cars, most of them jam-packed with family members and guests, were said to have rolled over the two mile-long runways and the taxi strip. There was a constant slow-moving procession over these ground treads for future airway traffic during most of the afternoon.
Curiosity was heightened by the feeling that this job, still under construction, is to mark a transition from the days when rail and car traffic constituted almost the sole means of reaching the Adirondacks, to the approach of the days when a man in an office building in New York city, Boston, Buffalo or Philadelphia will step into an elevator and say, "Up, George," instead of "Down."
Going up, he will step into the roof-deck waiting room, in a moment take a helicopter plane, and in the space of an hour or two land on one of the strips of the Harrietstown airport. His family will pick him up in the little runabout plane used at the camp and return him to the airport by 7:30 o'clock Monday morning. He can climb into a helicopter and be deposited at the roof door of his office building before the 9 o'clock starting hour for work.
But to get back to today—or yesterday—the airport was splendidly manned and the traffic handled by one state trooper and a competent company of Saranac Lake civilian defense volunteers.
Members of the air raid wardens unit, the auxiliary firemen and the auxiliary police lined the runways to keep traffic moving and to direct motorists to vantage points for parking along runways. Members of the local Motor Corps drove visitors who were unable to secure transportation from the Hotel Saranac to the 'port during the afternoon.
The probable use of the airport during the war has not been announced by the War department, but local officials have stated it might possibly be used as a training center for aviation cadets.
Chateaugay Record, August 18, 1944
Saranac Lake Airport Now Designated.
Saranac Lake. — Designation of the Saranac Lake Airport on all of the army and civilian air maps has been made during the past week officials here have been notified.
Following the start of the Dufort School of Flying at the airport, the designation, of the field was being taken care of by the late Lieut. Clarence Dufort. This was delayed by his sudden death, but within the past week Mrs. Dufort, who has taken over her husband's school, contacted the department and designation was made.
The airport has been used frequently by government officials and army personnel. It is considered one of the best fields in the North Country.
Among the recent visitors to this section who have landed at the airport are James Forrestal, secretary of the navy and Henry L. Stimson secretary of war. Both men arrived here in their private planes.
Colonel Nieto of the Philippine government staff was flown to Saranac Lake, landing at the airport in an army bomber plane upon the death of President Quezon.
It is believed the field will be in frequent use now that designation on air maps has been made.
A representative of the Dufort School of Aeronautics is at the Saranac Lake Airport twice weekly to arrange schedules for students from Saranac Lake and vicinity.
"Mac" McDonald, veteran flier and instructor at Malone—Dufort Airport in Malone, is the instructor assigned to the local field. In addition to flying lessons, charter service and sightseeing trips will be scheduled at the airport.