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. 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. Its 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. 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. Well 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 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 supports annual Air operations for firefighting efforts. SWRA also served as a base camp 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 military aircraft operations. The open space and runway length allow emergency, rescue, and relief aircraft to operate safely, who would be unable to operate out of other smaller airports in Southwest Washington. Life flight 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.
Additionally, SWRA is striving to seek new ways to serve the communities in the surrounding area. Currently, SWRA and Cascade Air are 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, science and aviation 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.