Originally, this small airfield was built as a training base for the U.S. Army during World War II. Today, the airport is home to the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team as well as several vintage aircraft. On any given day you may find a couple of retired DC-10s, 727s, 737s, 747s, or even a Korean Air A300 – all in various states of disrepair. A majority are former Northwest Airlines airliners, sent here once they are retired from service. When a plane arrives, the jet engines are one of the first pieces to be removed and can sell for more than $2 million.
The aircraft salvage company was formed in 1953 and currently uses a portion of the airfield for commercial airliner salvage. As the story goes, the founder Harold Jenkins “Jenks” Caldwell Sr. was in a restaurant and noticed a part of the building was constructed out of a portion of a U.S. Army C-54 transport fuselage. Fascinated by the plane, he purchased the airframe and removed it from the building. Caldwell obtained the necessary parts and built a fully functional aircraft for commercial service. His intention was not to sell the plane but instead create his own small airline. Over the years, the airline grew to include DC-8s and 707s. Eventually, the company transformed into a salvage operation, selling parts of the various aircraft to private and commercial companies.