Pearson Field has unique approach/departure procedures that visiting pilots must be aware of. Please take time to read about the procedures and view the video guide.
201A East Reserve Street
Vancouver, WA 98661
About Pearson Field Airport
Take time to explore Pearson Field’s rich history and continuing role as an important link in the transportation system of the region. In 2001, the National Air Transportation Association named it one of America’s 100 “Most Needed” Airports.
According to the Washington State Department of Transportation Aviation Division, each year Pearson Field and Museum attract 39,500 visitors to Vancouver, generates $26,998,080 and supports roughly 460 jobs. Funded by users of the airfield, Pearson receives no operational funding from the City.
Located directly east of I-5 and just north of Highway 14 and the Columbia River, Pearson Field is easily accessible by land and air. The airport is operated by the City of Vancouver, Washington, which owns 61.8 acres of the 134.4-acre airport site. The remaining 72.6 acres are owned by the National Park Service and lie within the Vancouver National Historic Reserve. Pearson Field is the only airport in the U.S. that operates totally within the boundaries of a national historic reserve.
The site itself has seen many aviation firsts, with its use as an airfield dating back to a dirigible landing in 1905. Today the airport is home to the Pearson Air Museum and Jack Murdock Aviation Center, which combine a celebration of aviation history with hands-on demonstrations involving the science of flight. Pearson Field is also home to the Pearson Field Education Center which provides experiential aviation, STEM, and history education for youth ages K-12.
Aero Maintenance Inc. is located on the field, offering a full range of parts and services, flight training, and scenic flights to Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, the Columbia River Gorge and elsewhere – all just a short flight away.
Pearson Field is noted as one of the oldest continuously operating airfields in the United States. Documented use of the area dates to the early 1800s when it was farmed to feed residents of adjacent Fort Vancouver.
When the U.S. Army came to Vancouver in the mid-1800s, this area south of the barracks was used for ammunition storage, a blacksmith shop and garden. It was later popular as a polo field. In 1905, Lincoln Beachey piloted the dirigible Gelatine to Vancouver Barracks in the first aerial crossing of the Columbia River. In 1911, the field’s first airplane landed there.
During World War I, a spruce mill was established for mass production of wood components for military aircraft. The mill played an important role in the modernization of America’s early aircraft industry. From 1923 to 1941, Pearson was home to the U.S. Army Air Service and many key events during the “Golden Age of Flight.” One of its first commanders, Lt. Oakley Kelly, made the first non-stop transcontinental flight in 1923.
In 1924, Pearson Field was a stopover on the army’s first round-the world-flight. In 1937, Soviet aviator Valeri Chkalov and crew landed there at the end of history’s first non- stop, trans-polar flight. Over the years, the field was visited by such notables as Charles Lindbergh, Jimmy Doolittle, Eddie Rickenbacker and squadrons of barnstormers. Two occupants of an adjacent commercial field, Pacific Air Transport and Varney Airlines, later joined with two other companies to form United Airlines.
Pearson Field was named in 1925 after Lt. Alexander Pearson, “one of the best known and finest pilots in the Air Service.” Pearson attended high school in Vancouver, won the first cross-country air race in 1919 and made the first aerial survey of the Grand Canyon. He was killed while preparing for an air race in 1924.
After World War II, the airfield was declared surplus by the U.S. Army and sold to the City of Vancouver.
The western portion of the Pearson Field runway sits on property owned by the National Park Service. In 2010, the City and Park Service signed a 40-year lease agreement that will allow Pearson to continue to operate as a general aviation airfield.