Aviation has a rich history in Tucson. Our first encounter with flight occurred in 1910, when Charles Hamilton, the "birdman," landed his Curtis bi-plane on the banks of the Santa Cruz river downtown.
Tucson had the first municipal airport in the country in 1919. The airport moved several times and for a number of years shared facilities at the Davis Monthan U.S. Air Force base. However, in 1947, after World War II, the military asked the city of Tucson to make other arrangements for an airport since they felt civilian and military operations were not compatible.
The city of Tucson was not interested in managing an airport so they approached the local chamber of commerce. They had an aviation committee and their 15 members raised $25,000 that became the budget for the airport.
In 1948 the Tucson airport authority was created by state charter as a nonprofit, quasi-governmental corporation. The authority and the city of Tucson executed a 25-year lease for the airport. That lease was eventually extended for 100 years.
A study conducted by the University of Arizona reported that TIA provides an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion to the region and supports nearly 35,000 jobs directly and indirectly throughout the community.
TIA, whose official airport code is TUS, serves an average of 3.6 million passengers annually. For the traveling public, our customers are here for three main reasons: they are traveling themselves, accompanying someone who will be traveling, or picking someone up who was traveling.
There are both traditional and low-cost airlines providing service to national destinations with connections throughout the United States and the world. TIA operates with three runways; our largest is over 11,000 ft. or almost two miles long. We have a secondary 8,000-ft. runway and a cross-runway.
As an international airport, TIA is a port of entry that offers 24-hour customs and immigration services. Because of its proximity to Interstate 10, as well as I-19, which is the gateway to Mexico, TIA is accessible by air and land and plays an important role in cargo operations.
In addition, TIA supports the 162nd Wing of the Air National Guard, which conducts the largest training operation for the F-16 aircraft.