In 1941, Mayor C.E. Williams spearheaded the city's initial land acquisition. In 1942, the US Government took over this site and subsequently developed it into a training field for the Army Air Corps. Throughout World War II, the field was used for the training of pilots.
In 1945, the airport was returned to the City of Bartow by the General Services Administration. It was stipulated that the airport must be used for airport purposes; and if not, that it be returned to the government. Through the years 1945 to 1950, a fixed-base operator ran the airport while the large building complex, which had been constructed by the Federal Government, was used by industry and for storage.
In 1946, approximately 32 barracks were converted into apartments for returning veterans.
In 1950, the Federal Government again took over the airport and called for bids from civil contractors to man and operate a pilot training base. Garner Aviation was the successful bidder and operated the facility until 1955 when they lost the bid to Truman Miller. Miller ran the training school until 1960 and the termination of the government's contract pilot training concept.
From 1960 through 1967 the City managed the airport and the aviation facilities were leased to a fixed-base operator. In 1964, the City made a formal request to the Federal Aviation Administration for authority to convert a large building area into an industrial park. The concept was approved and the industrial park was opened.
In July 1967, the City passed an ordinance which established an airport authority. Its official name being the Bartow Municipal Airport Development Authority. The Authority was composed of five city commission members and an executive director.
Bartow Municipal Airport and Industrial Park has been self-supporting since its inception. Utilizing its aircraft refueling, storage facilities and Industrial Park to obtain its revenues the Authority has maintained a public use airport for the people of Bartow.
The Museum Room at the Bartow Airport Terminal Building
The Museum Room is open Monday through Sunday from 8:00am to 5:00pm.