With origins dating back to the barnstorming days of the 1920s and a significant role as a U.S. Army Air Corps airfield during Word War II — not to mention a soft spot in the hearts of many aviation buffs as the location of the long-running Boshears Skyfest — Daniel Field has continued to evolve along with the city, becoming an important hub of general aviation activity as well as a favorite destination for those flying personal planes or business jets to the Masters golf tournament.
After Word War II, when the Army Air Corps expanded the existing facilities and used the airfield primarily for transportation and training purposes, Willis “Buster” Boshears and his brother Forrest moved their fixed-base operation (FBO) to Daniel Field, eventually renaming it Augusta Aviation in the 1960s. The brothers, as well as Buster’s son, Willis Jr., who followed in their footsteps, are all members of the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame.
In the 1950s, Augusta’s airline traffic relocated to Bush Field, significantly changing the complexion of the airport, but Daniel Field weathered the economic crisis that followed, making headlines in 1986 when, ironically, a Boeing 737 mistakenly landed on its much shorter runway instead of at Bush Field as planned.
By then, Daniel Field didn’t need a fluke occurrence to enhance its reputation, however — its role in accommodating aircraft during Masters Week earned it praise in the aviation community, and the parking lot in the neighboring Daniel Village shopping center continues to be a favorite spot for locals to watch takeoffs and landings at any time of year.
In early 2016, changes in Federal Aviation Administration regulations forced the cancellation of the popular Boshears Skyfest airshow after 23 years, but the airport made headlines again later that year with the completion of the 18-month, $1 million renovation that not only returned Augusta Aviation’s massive Word War II-era hangar doors to their former glory, but modernized them as well by motorizing them.
The investment — and the airport’s history — were honored at a ceremony late that October.
“If those doors could talk, what stories they could tell,” Gov. Nathan Deal told those attending the dedication.
Nearly three years after those remarks were made — nearly three years to the day — those massive doors will serve as the backdrop for Augusta University’s President’s Gala.