Naples has the U.S. Army to thank for its airport. In 1941, the then-town learned that a site in Naples had been identified as a possible Army airfield, according to Nancy Fessenden’s book Pilots, Pinballs and Politics: A History of the Naples Airport. At the time, most of what’s now the city of Naples was swampy terrain and landing strips were far and few between. In fact, airplanes used to land on a golf course in downtown Naples. So, the town jumped on the offer to aid in the war effort.
The site served as a sub-base for Buckingham Army Airfield in Fort Myers. For close to two years, fighter planes and bombers flew faux raids over the skies of Naples. Pilots were trained, then sent to fight on the European and Pacific fronts.
Once the war ended, the Naples Airdrome, as it was called, was no longer needed. In 1947, the property was transferred back to the city and county (the county later sold its interests to the city), and the airport started to evolve.
In the 1950s, private and other types of air travel started to take hold. Provincetown-Boston Airlines (pictured, 1966)—which would become a major carrier in the country—launched operations in Naples. Its most popular flight was the daily half-hour trip to Miami International Airport.
Provincetown-Boston managed the airport until the City of Naples Airport Authority was formed in 1969. The airport served as the primary hub of air travel for the Naples area until Southwest Florida Regional (now International) Airport opened in 1983.
Naples Airport now is primarily a general aviation airport with more than 120,000 takeoffs and landings per year. It’s home to private jets, flight schools, sightseeing companies and public services, such as the Collier Mosquito Control District.