Military airplane lands at Sand Point for the first time on October 8, 1921.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • Essay 2242

On October 8, 1921, U.S. Army Major Henry Kress Muhlenberg (1886-1967) lands a military aircraft for the first time at what would become Sand Point Naval Air Station. Muhlenberg pilots a Curtiss JN-4H Jenny biplane

from Camp Lewis in Pierce County and lands at Sand Point on the 500-foot dirt strip cleared out of dense woods, considered still too rough for use by aircraft. Muhlenberg was Assistant Professor of Military Tactics at the University of Washington and chief of the Air Service Division for the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC).

Major Muhlenberg piloted the second airplane to land at Sand Point. The first was piloted by pioneer aviator Eddie Hubbard (1889-1928). Hubbard set down a plane on Sand Point on June 19, 1920, as part of a tree felling ceremony marking the formal development of the site as an airfield. Riding with Hubbard as a passenger was Claude C. Ramsay, chairman of the King County Board of Commissioners and the leader of local backers for a Sand Point airport.

King County acquired the site for a military air facility and both the Army and the Navy had been considering the County's offer of the land for no cost. At the time, Seattle had no airport.

The Army supplied the facility's first hanger, a prefabricated metal building shipped from California and erected at County expense. That fall, pilots undertook to seed the runway with grass to create a turf surface. The runways at Sand Point would not be paved with asphalt until 1939.

Sand Point became a Naval Air Station in 1923 (one of only five in the nation at the time). The Navy permitted the Army to base the UW ROTC Jenny there for a few years. During the winter, students often had to hike the rutted mud track that was Sand Point Way in order to fly.


Naval Station Puget Sound at Sand Point (Seattle: U.S. Navy, 1993), p. 6-13.

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