A Chronology of Nashville Airports

by Georgiana T. McConnell.

Nashville’s first airfield was a two-thousand-foot strip on the E.L. Hampton farm, now along Hampton Avenue between Golf Club Lane and Woodmont Boulevard. It was used by transients and locals between 1917 and 1921.

Blackwood Field was opened in 1921 to house the newly designated 105th Observation Squadron Air Guard unit. It was on land adjacent to The Hermitage property on Shute Lane. H.O. Blackwood donated money to erect a hangar, thus the name.

When air mail was becoming important, an airport was needed closer to town, so land was purchased in West Nashville. A field at the current location of McCabe Golf Course began operation in 1927. It was named McConnell Field in honor of Brower McConnell who had been killed in Air Guard training that year. It was Nashville’s first municipal airport. McConnell Field soon became too small for the Guard and airline growth, but it stayed in operation until 1937.

Although located in Murfreesboro, the next designated Nashville airport was Sky Harbor which opened in 1929. It was located between the old Nashville Road and the railroad and was used until Berry Field opened in 1937.

Nashville’s New Municipal Airport (postcard from NHN collection)

Berry Field was built at its present location along Murfreesboro Road—although it is now greatly enlarged. It was a WPA project and was named in honor of Col. Harry S. Berry, State Administrator of the WPA. Called the Nashville International Airport since 1988, it continues to serve the growing aviation public, though mostly for corporate and airline flying.

Gillespie Airport, owned and operated by Jim Gillespie, opened in 1941. It was located at the end of 9th Avenue North on the Cumberland River (on land now part of Metro Center). It served private flying. Before it closed it was bought by the city and called Cumberland Field.

Cornelia Fort Airpark, named for a daughter of Nashville who lost her life while serving in the WAFS, opened in 1943. It is located near the old Fort farm along the Cumberland River in East Nashville.

In 1970 the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority acquired the airport at the old Sewart Air Force Base in Smyrna. MNAA relinquished the airport to the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Authority in 1991 but retains liens related to environmental issues. The Smyrna Airport serves corporate and private flying.

The John C. Tune Airport, named for a founding member of MNAA and located in the Cockrill Bend area near the prison, opened in 1986. It is owned by the Metro Airport Authority and serves corporate and private flying. (2000)