Leesburg’s municipal airport got its start in 1918 when a World War I plane supposedly landed in a pasture called “George’s Field.” Located near the present-day Leesburg Plaza Shopping Center (shown on the 1952 USGS Quadrangle Map detail at right), the grassy field became popular with barnstormers in the 1920s. For a fee, pilots would take people for short rides over the Potomac River. The end of the trip was often marked with one of the flyers parachuting down to the field. Occasionally they would miss the airport and land in a neighboring yard. Onlookers raced to the scene to watch.
George Hammerly, Maurice Lowenbach, Stanley Caulkins and Frank Raflo at the 1963 ground-
breaking of Godfrey Field
|Radio and television personality Arthur Godfrey, who owned property near Leesburg, was an avid pilot. He bought George’s Field in 1952 and popularized it on his radio show as “The Old Cow Pasture.” As the Town grew, having an airport in what was beginning to be the center of Town became a problem, especially as Godfrey upgraded to larger and more powerful airplanes to support his weekly commute to New York City. In 1960, Godfrey deeded 100 acres of his property to the Town as part of a plan for the Town to sell the property and use the proceeds of the sale to match state and federal funding for the construction of a new airport south of town. Godfrey Field was dedicated in 1964 by Mayor Frank Raflo with Arthur Godfrey in attendance. |
The 1960s saw an explosion of growth driven by the completion of Dulles International Airport in 1962. Businesses attracted by the airport streamed into eastern Loudoun County. Traffic at Godfrey Field also increased as companies established their headquarters near Leesburg. Corporate aircraft began to look for homes away from Dulles, putting pressure on the airport to start expanding in the 1980s.
In 1993, the Town of Leesburg took over direct control of the airport and began an aggressive growth campaign. The airport was renamed Leesburg Executive Airport at Godfrey Field in 2000, and is now home to nearly 300 private and corporate aircraft supporting some of the largest corporations in the world.