Embry-Riddle Field

This Obion County airfield began operations as a training base for aviation cadets in 1942. The land was acquired in early March, construction proceeded immediately, and the first class arrived in July 1942. Riddle-McKay Aviation School of Florida, a private contractor for the U.S. government, built and operated the base under the name Embry-Riddle Field. John Paul Riddle, a pioneer in aviation training, airplane manufacturing, and airline operations, headed the company. During the war, schools operated by Riddle-McKay trained some twenty-six thousand young men to fly. Civilian flight instructors at Embry-Riddle Field taught approximately nineteen classes of cadets over a two-year period. Many of those cadets saw action in World War II theaters of operation around the world.

The original training planes were PT-Stearmans; by the end of 1942 these were replaced by Fairchild PT-19s, a part-plywood monoplane with an in-line Ranger air-cooled engine. By the end of 1943 the Fairchilds had been modified to use a radial engine and were designated as PT-23s.

Embry-Riddle Field originally encompassed 870 acres. In 1942 there were no paved runways, although there was a paved area in front of the two metal hangers (still extant), and a wooden flight tower. Barracks for cadets, an administrative building, a dining hall, and several maintenance shops completed the base. In 1943 two more wooden hangers, a link trainer building, and additional barracks were built.

After World War II the Embry-Riddle Field was given to Obion County, and the name was changed to Tom Stewart Field, in honor of the U.S. senator. The name was later changed again to Everett-Stewart Field to honor of both Senator Stewart and his one-time assistant, and later congressman, Robert A. “Fats” Everett of Union City.

The field contains 825 acres. The airport includes two original hangers, a 5,000-foot runway, and a 3,500-square-foot terminal building, completed in 1987.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Embry-Riddle Field
  • Author
  • Website Name Tennessee Encyclopedia
  • URL
  • Access Date June 18, 2024
  • Publisher Tennessee Historical Society
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 1, 2018