Founded in 1911 at nearly the dawn of flight, Robertson Airport is Connecticut’s oldest airfield. It began as an airfield consisting of little more than a meadow used by novice pilots in the early 20th century. A plaque on the property commemorates the first flight taken from Plainville on May 18, 1911 by 22 year-old air pioneer Nels J. Nelson. In 1941, Stamford "Stan" Robertson purchased the 36 acres of land for $5,000. Over the next 30 years, he increased the acreage of the airfield to 70 acres, refined landing strips, and built permanent hangar space for aircraft.
As the airport’s capacity increased, so did its clientele. A common visitor to the airport was the weekend enthusiast with a love of flight looking to catch a glimpse of New England that just couldn't be seen on the ground. In addition, the airport’s strategic location made it an ideal base for the Civil Air Patrol during times of war and for small businessmen in need of a quick trip to New York or Boston.
Soaring into the 21st Century
Throughout much of the 20th century, Plainville continued to immerse itself deeper into aviation culture. Lieutenant (junior grade) Moreno John Caparelli served as a member of the infamous “Black Cat” squadron that patrolled Japanese airspace during World War II. In the 1950s, Plainville began hosting an annual aviation dinner, sponsored by the Connecticut Wing of the Civilian Air Patrol, and ran a Miss Connecticut Aviation contest. Air shows, flying competitions, and pilot training courses all supplemented aviation activities at the Plainville airfield.
Plainville Buys an Airport
The airport was eventually sold to the Tomasso Group. In 2007 and 2008 two phases of an Airport Feasibility Study were conducted on behalf of the Town, and in 2009 the Town of Plainville purchased Robertson Airport for $7.7 million. After a major portion of the acquisition cost was covered by an FAA grant and a smaller portion by a State grant, the Town paid under $100,000. Federal and State funding has continued to assist the Town with repairs and capital improvements.
An Aviation Commission was created by the Town Council. The Commission is responsible for duties which deal with Robertson Airport and its related activities and facilities. The Commission also works in cooperation with the Town Manager on the airport budget, revenues and capital improvements.
Robertson Airport continues to be a popular destination both for traveling businessmen and aviation enthusiasts. In an average year, the airport sees more than 30,000 takeoffs and landings. The Civil Air Patrol continues to have a presence at the airport.