Nestled between the beautiful Cowlitz and Coweeman rivers and just northeast of the majestic Columbia River, the Southwest Washington Regional Airport (SWRA) is a strategic gateway to southwest Washington and all the area has to offer. SWRA is an origination and destination location for aircraft operations spanning across the country and even internationally. Though it is impossible to know just how many businesses and communities truly benefit from the airport, we know more than forty organizations fly through SWRA to conduct business and meet with local government, ports, and companies. Approximately twenty percent of based aircraft at SWRA are used for business operations and more than a dozen highly skilled workers report to work at several businesses located on the airport.
The Southwest Washington Regional Airport (SWRA) has come a long way since its inception in May of 1941. Donated by a nearby dairy farm, this 110-acre airport has received a decent amount of attention in the aviation community over the years. It has been many years since Maggy Davis’ flight school was busy training new pilots by the dozens, but many local pilots and citizens have heartfelt memories of the peppery woman who put the airport on the map in the 1970’s as one of the busiest general aviation airports in the country. More recently, Molten “Molt” Taylor put the airport back on the map with his invention of the first certified flying car as well as many other incredible flying machines. It is rare for an airport to hold a title in the aviation industry, but SWRA has claimed two historic titles by way of its local residents. Since those historic times, SWRA has shifted to serving new roles including support of economic development and emergency response activities.
SWRA is currently home to approximately 70 aircraft, of which, about twenty percent are used to support business activities. From single engine piston airplanes to business jets and helicopters, SWRA is serving and supporting local businesses. Additionally, several businesses, employing about a dozen highly skilled employees, are located directly on the airfield. Over forty companies routinely use SWRA to conduct business throughout the year. Over the last two years, SWRA has seen an increase in visiting business aircraft, reflecting a healthy economy with local business growth testifying to SWRA’s value in the region.
Other ways SWRA has proven its worth as an asset are in times of emergencies. During the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, SWRA was a strategic base of operations for search and rescue missions and even a visit from the president of the United States. More recently, SWRA supported Air operations for firefighting efforts with the 2015 Colvin Creek Fire near Woodland. SWRA also served as a basecamp for fire fighters who set up temporary tent housing. Currently, the airport continues to support the Department of Natural Resources for their helicopter operations as well as other military aircraft. The open space and runway length allow emergency, rescue, and relief aircraft to operate safely, who would be unable to operate out of other airports in Southwest Washington. SWRA is also an excellent staging area for emergency shelters and supply distribution due to its open and accessible layout with multiple access points to highways and ports. Life flight, Inc. relocated their helicopter operations from the St. John’s hospital heliport to a new facility at SWRA due to the improved access, safety, and reduced emergency response times. Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue also benefits from SWRA’s presence and performs annually staff training at the airport. In the future, SWRA desires to host a regional joint emergency response exercise to help build partnerships and collaboration between the various emergency response teams.
Additionally, SWRA is striving to seek new ways to serve the communities in the surrounding area. Currently, SWRA is working with the local schools to build an educational outreach program for youth. This program is being designed to give our future leaders more opportunities to explore the many exciting careers available in the math and science fields. With passionate leadership, incredible volunteers, and great community support, SWRA will continue to expand its role in support of regional economic development, emergency response, and service to its communities.
Businesses based on the Airfield
Cascade Air is our new FBO that just came on board in April 2021. They have significantly renovated our terminal building as they continue to make exciting changes to the airport. Cascade Air offers flight instruction, aircraft maintenance, and fueling. Clink on the link above to head over to their website to learn more.
Northwest Airtech is an excellent aircraft maintenance facility that has called KLS home for nearly two decades. They have two IA's and several A&Ps on staff. Northwest Airtech works on many makes and models of aircraft including experimental and twin engine airplanes. Clink on the link above to head over to their website to learn more.
AMA Interior Solutions has a great reputation for their top notch aircraft upholstery work and service. AMA Interior Solutions has called KLS home for many years and continues to serve as a great asset to the aviation community. Clink on the link above to head over to their website to learn more.