Airport History

VGT is 171,684 total operations in 2020 making it the 49th busiest airport in the United States.

North Las Vegas Airport was created by aviation enthusiasts Verald "Bud" Barrett and J.M. and Florence Murphy, who opened the airfield as Sky Haven Airport on December 7, 1941. The opening celebration was interrupted by news of the air raid at Pearl Harbor, and a scheduled flying demonstration was canceled.

The small airport became successful during World War II when it was used by general aviation flyers and pilots from the Las Vegas Army Air Base for off-duty flying. J.M. Murphy and Barrett enlisted in the Army Air Corps as instructors, leaving Florence Murphy to operate Sky Haven until the war ended in 1945. Legendary aviator Howard Hughes often flew through the airport during its early years.

After the war, the Murphys sold their interest to Barrett, who operated Sky Haven for a few more years. Barrett later sold his interest in Sky Haven to Wes Durston, who changed its name to Thunderbird Field in the 1950s. In the early 1960s, the runways were paved, a new administration building and restaurant were built, and the 40-unit Sky Rider Motel, complete with an airplane-shaped swimming pool, opened for business.

In 1965, Ralph Englestad purchased Thunderbird Field and quickly sold it to the city of North Las Vegas. City leaders renamed the site North Las Vegas Air Terminal, then sold it to Howard Hughes' Summa Corp. in 1967. Seven years later, the facility became a reliever airport for Harry Reid International Airport, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began providing air traffic control services. Summa continued to operate the airport until Clark County purchased it in 1987. The County then made a considerable investment to upgrade the airport, including a new 15,600-square-foot terminal building completed in 1992.

North Las Vegas Airport is now home to nearly 700 based aircraft and 25 commercial businesses. It’s the second-busiest airport in Nevada based on total aircraft operations. General aviation activity, flight instruction and a sightseeing airline made North Las Vegas one of the 100 busiest airports in the country in 2006.

North Las Vegas Airport continues to provide relief to busy Harry Reid International Airport by attracting general aviation flights away from its larger sister airport. Small aircraft operators are enticed to North Las Vegas through its combination of personalized customer service, competitive fuel rates and first-class facilities.