On a sunny day in Issaquah, Washington—roughly 12 miles from Aero Law Group’s office in Bellevue, WA—drivers along Interstate 90 can look up and see the sky busy with people taking flight. These days the summer skies are filled with paragliders, but decades ago new pilots were gaining hours taking off from a now-lost airfield in in this small suburb east of Seattle, Washington.
In the late 1940’s the Sky Ranch in Issaquah was a hub of activity with former enlisted men using their G.I. Bill benefits to attend flight school. According to Issaquah History Online the airfield founders Al Lockwood and Ab Davies were “training more than 125 young men a month.” The fun was not just found in airplanes as the historical website also adds that, “things stayed busy after the sun went down too. The Sky Ranch also served as a night spot – the hangar boasted a restaurant and ‘bottle club’ (a BYOB bar). On Saturday nights there was an organist and dancing.”
In the 1960’s ownership changed hands, and the Seattle Sky Sports Club was founded. The club expanded the pilot training to include parachuting, gliding and ballooning, as well as hosting air shows to entertain fans of aviation. The Seattle Skyport even hosted the 1963 National Parachute Championships.
The small airport continued to be a bustling hub well into the 1970’s as the field played host to recreational light aircraft and gliders, and was said to be the busiest airport in the state on the weekends. However the latter part of the decade marked the beginning of the end as a housing boom in the area started encroaching on the airfield.
In 1987 the Seattle Skyport closed, but not before Aero Law Group Attorney Cheryl Kringle had her first official flying lesson! As a gift for her 13th birthday, Cheryl had the opportunity to fly a glider. “I loved it! Gliders are awesome because they are so quiet–no engine noise just the sound of the air.” Unfortunately, no pictures are available at this time.
Now sadly, the area that once was the training ground for so many pilots and aviation enthusiasts is now a commercial center housing a Lowe’s and a Costco—whose traffic on the weekends rivals that of the International Airport in SeaTac. Fortunately people can still take to the skies, but instead of parachuting out of an airplane, flying adventurers are paragliding off of mountain peaks.
Information and images courtesy of www.airfields-freeman.com.