In 1919 the Tucson Chamber of Commerce aviation committee established the nation's first municipally owned airfield at the current site of the Tucson Rodeo Grounds. The rapid increase in aviation activities meant a move in 1927 to what is now Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The combination of civil and military operations worked well until the early 1940s when military requirements began to require the relocation of civil aviation activities.
In 1941, the City had purchased the current site of Tucson International Airport (TUS) but by 1947 they were unprepared to take over the operation of an airport. Once again, the Chamber of Commerce provided a solution. Led by Monte Mansfield, the group brought together 15 municipal leaders as incorporators of a nonprofit corporation called the Tucson Airport Authority (TAA). The Authority was established on April 12, 1948, as a civic, non profit corporation as provided for under Arizona law to develop, promote, operate and maintain airports and air transportation facilities adjacent to the City of Tucson and in Pima County.
Fifteen business leaders each put up a $1,000 bond for initial capital. Within three years the bonds were all redeemed.
It is not only the broad representation found in the Authority that makes it unique. Although the TAA leases land from the City and is located in the County, it is an independent, nonpolitical entity. Since its beginning it has been run as a business, utilizing the fiscal acumen of its membership to find innovative ways to fund airport operations.
Committed community volunteers take the responsibility of managing the airport seriously. In 1956 the Authority pioneered the sale of airport revenue bonds for capital improvements. An Airport Use Agreement between TAA and the airlines, completed in 1977, reflects the attitude that an airport and its tenants must share the responsibility and benefits on an airport operation. For the community this means no local tax dollars are used to operate the airport.
In addition to TUS, the Authority is also responsible for managing general aviation reliever Ryan Airfield, located 12 miles west of TUS.
The Authority continues today with 115 members who represent a full range of civic, business and professional interests.