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Moving History Forward

Fairgrounds has aviation history

In 1920, aviation was still in its infancy. Barnstormers traveled through, mainly. Yet the Coeur d’Alene city council and local chamber of commerce were visionaries. They wanted an airport to take them into the 20th century.

With voter approval, they bought a 160-acre field just west of Dalton Gardens for $16,000 and named it Weeks Field after civic booster George Weeks.

It became the first municipally owned airport in the entire nation.

In the late '30s, Week’s field was managed by Hilmer Anderson, who owned Lake City Air Service. A total of four planes were kept in a small hangar at the airport. Two turf runways, a radio beacon and hourly weather reports were provided.

The airport’s use increased significantly in 1942 when Weeks Field was leased to the Buroker-Hicks Flying Service. The Olympia, Wash., based flying school was forced to move inland by the U.S. Military after war was declared against Japan. Buroker-Hicks were contractors for the civilian pilot training program. Students enrolled in the school were brought to Coeur d'Alene in a college bus and housed in the Arnold Auto Court.

When the Buroker-Hicks Flying Service moved to Weeks Field, water, electricity, telephone and heating systems were added and the old city-owned hangar was enlarged.

Lafferty Transportation Co. hauled one of the abandoned CCC Camp buildings from Beauty Bay to Weeks Field, and by the summer of 1943, the Buroker-Hicks Flying Service was in full operation.

In the spring of 1943, North Idaho Junior College, in conjunction with Buroker-Hicks, was awarded a contract for training Army Reservists. Also in 1943, the civil aeronautics board built the Coeur d'Alene Air Terminal near Hayden Lake as a backup airport in case of a Pacific Coast invasion. During the peak of the war service training, both Weeks Field and the Coeur d'Alene Air Terminal were used around the clock, seven days a week.

On Jan. 16, 1944, all contracts for the War Service Training Program were canceled and Buroker-Hicks Flying Service was out of business. Weeks Field continued to operate until the city realized that it could not expand and that the Coeur d'Alene Air Terminal had more potential for the future.

In 1951, city and county officials began negotiations to exchange Weeks Field for the old Kootenai County Fairgrounds at the base of Tubbs Hill. Today the Kootenai County Fairgrounds occupies 83 of the original 160 acres. The hangar that was used by Buroker-Hicks is still in use.

The Museum of North Idaho is sponsoring the Centennial Selfie Museum at the North Idaho State Fair from Aug. 19 to 28. Walk through scenes from the fair’s 100+ year history and snap photos to remember the journey. Come visit the museum’s booth to learn more about North Idaho’s heritage and peruse the dozens of regional history books we publish.

Moving History Forward
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