The original roots of the Terre Haute Regional Airport-Hulman Field date back to the late 1920’s when former Army pilot Paul Cox and other aviation enthusiasts leased 168 acres on the city’s south side, at the current site of Terre Haute South Vigo High School. The group organized Terre Haute Airways Inc. in order to develop a municipal airport. The organization convinced reluctant politicians that the city needed an airport and the property was acquired by the city in 1930 and designated Dresser Field. It was later rededicated “Paul Cox Field” as a memorial to Paul Cox’s leadership.
Cox Field was a commercial and municipal airport, but in 1942, when the airport was denied transcontinental service by the federal government, because of its size, the future of the airport was in jeopardy. In 1943, approximately 638 acres at the present site of the airport were donated to the City of Terre Haute by Anton Hulman, Jr. who was a successful local businessman and owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This lead to the groundbreaking for a larger municipal airport known as Hulman Field. With the assistance of Federal funding, the airport was constructed and then dedicated on October 3, 1944. The airport consisted of three runways, taxiways, an apron area, and a terminal building. TWA provided cargo and passenger service to the community, which began shortly after the opening of the airport. Cox Field’s U.S. Weather Bureau facilities and Civil Aeronautics Administration office was relocated to Hulman Field in 1946.
In 1953, the construction of a new terminal building including a control tower was completed and the apron area expanded. In addition, Runway 5-23 was extended to 7,000 feet. In the early 1950′s, a second airline, Delta C & S, began serving the community. This service was short-lived and subsequently replaced by Lake Central Airlines in 1954. The Indiana Air National Guard established a base at the airport in 1954 and the 113th Tactical Fighter Squadron, which is a part of the 181st Tactical Fighter Group, was stationed at the airport. Cox Field continued to serve the community as a general aviation airport until its closure in December of 1959.
In the early 1960′s, significant improvement projects were completed to the Airport. In 1961, an ILS (Instrument Landing System) was commissioned, and in 1962 Runway 5-23 was extended to 9,025 feet. In 1964, Lake Central Airlines began replacing DC-3 aircraft with Convair 340′s for passenger service. Early in 1965, TWA discontinued service to the airport but Lake Central increased service to fill the void left by TWA’s departure. Lake Central also began operating DC-3′s at the airport for cargo service. In 1968, Lake Central merged with Allegheny Airlines which continued service to the airport.
Britt Airlines, operating as Allegheny Commuter, began serving the Airport in 1973 and based its headquarters at Hulman Field. Until 1976 the airport was operated for the City of Terre Haute by a four member board of aviation commissioners. As the airport developed and its service area expanded, it became apparent that a more broad-based management organization was required. In 1976, the City of Terre Haute and Vigo County formed an airport authority. The Terre Haute International Airport Authority is comprised of six members, with three members appointed by the Mayor and three members appointed by the Vigo County Commissioners.
The FAA added advanced radar control systems and the terminal building was expanded by 1,500 square feet in 1977.
Additions to the terminal building added 5,300 square feet and Hulman Field’s name was changed to Hulman Regional Airport in 1981. Britt Airlines continued to operate in Terre Haute until the late 1980′s when it was purchased and service was ultimately terminated
In 1998, the Airport’s name was changed from Hulman Regional Airport to Terre Haute International Airport – Hulman Field. The airport’s secondary runway 14-32 was extended to 7,200 feet in 1999. Airline service was provided by Great Lakes Aviation, Ltd d/b/a United Express from 1995 through the summer of 1999.
In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure commission mandated the end of the flying era at the Air National Guard Base. On September 8, 2007, the 181st Fighter Wing flew their last training mission out of Terre Haute International Airport – Hulman Field. On May 3, 2008 the 181st Fighter Wing was re-designated as the 181st Intelligence Wing.
Terre Haute Regional Airport is in a continuous state of progression with careful reflection given to the past, present and future of the airport. With this reflection came the new name, logo and renovations taking place inside and out of the airport facility. The Terre Haute Regional Airport strives to produce a picture that shows an airport steeped in history, thriving in a new economy and confident in its strategic focus for the future.