New Richmond Regional (Municipal) Airport



The following articles are reprinted exactly as they appeared in The News


January 10, 1963


The fifth annual fly-in breakfast will be held at Cedar Lake, Jan. 20. This fly-in has always attracted a great number of pilots and spectators.

There will be rides for those who wish them and there is a possibility that sky-divers from the twin cities will also make an appearance as they have in the past. There is plenty of parking space for the public to view the proceedings and also a chance to meet the pilots at Cedar Lake Resort.

Don Walsh, owner of the Cedar Lake Resort, who has sponsored the affair in the past and will this year also, said that he will have runways plowed for the event.

Fly-in breakfasts are like old gathering places to pilots. This is where tye get a chance to find out what is new in aviation, and to renew old acquaintances with other flyers.

If Jan. 20 finds the lake with poor flying weather, Jan. 27 has been assigned the alternate date.


January 24, 1963


Donnie Walsh’s annual Fly-In breakfast was postponed last Sunday because of the extreme cold and the high winds on the lake. It will be held this Sunday, Jan. 27, weather permitting.

The annual affair has brought out many people each year. Rides are offered by the pilots for those who like to fly around and see the country from a different view.

Runways will be plowed again this week and there will be plenty of parking area on the ice for cars.

The breakfast is one of the biggest affairs on the lake in the winter and everyone has a lot of fun. The Cedar Lake Resort is on the south side of the lake.


April 11, 1963


The municipal airport project has advanced into its final stages - at the meeting of the common council Tuesday night the city fathers authorized the sale of $50,000 in airport notes to be advertised. The notes will run for ten years, payable in installments of $5,000 a year plus whatever interest charges there may be, depending on how well the notes sell. At a meeting of the council scheduled for April 22 the bids for the notes will be opened,

And no doubt awarded to the lowest bidder as to interest.

The state aeronautics commission is asking the city to contribute its share of the cost of the project ($53,500) at this time – some $125,000 total cost – so that it can proceed to acquire the necessary land and easements. The field will be located about a mile north of New Richmond with entry off hwy 65 and running NW for over a half mile – the paved runway will be 3000 feet long, 75 feet wide and must be free of snow at all times, and we presume the entrance to the field will have to be kept free of snow, too.

Apparently no definite figures have been presented showing what it is going to cost to maintain the field but whatever the proposed figures might be, chances are good that the actual cost of maintaining the field will be considerably more than the estimated figures.

The airport project is probably the greatest step forward the taxpayers of New Richmond have ever undertaken since away back when the city installed its waterworks and laid sewer and did away with outdoor privvies. With the airport New Richmond has it made, according to the handful of people who formed the pressure group that put the project over, starting maybe two years ago. We never had it so good.

The council expects to sell its $50,000 worth of notes at an interest rate of 3% or less, and no doubt dozens of local residents will be bidding for the notes and offering low interest rates. Time was when that much money was important but today we’d say you’d surprised at the number of local residents in taking up the entire issue just to keep the business at home. But to be on the safe side the council will offer the issue to numerous financial institutions throughout the area (twin cities included).


Carl E. Guell, education consultant of the Wisconsin State Aeronautics Commission, will speak at a dinner meeting of the Kiwansis Club Monday evening at McGregor’s.

He will review the progress made on the city’s new Municipal Airport project and discuss the importance of the proposed facility to future business in the community.,

Tuesday morning, Mr. Guell will address a General Assembly at the Senior hi-school. He will discuss careers in aviation for young people and present a series of color slides showing the state of Wisconsin from the air.

Mr Guell, who came to New Richmond last fall to discuss plans for the city’s airport, was in the area again last week for conferences on the next steps to be taken.

He conferred with Harry E. Nelson Jr., traffic manager for Doughboy Industries, and chairman of the city’s airport development committee, and Joseph A. Ferris, vice president of public relations for Doughboy, and a member of the Mayor’s airport committee.

Mr Guell is a director of the National Aerospace Education Council and past president of the University Aviation Association.

In his talk before the Kiwanis Club, Mr. Guell will discuss plans for the acquisition of the land for the airport and cover the maintenance and operating costs.

He will also emphasize the importance of the proposed new airport to the state’s system of airports and show how it is a sound investment in the community’s future.

The Kiwanis club has announced that guests will be welcomed at the dinner meeting so that all interested parties can hear the important discussion.


April 18, 1963


Twenty-seven members and four guests met at the regular meeting of the Kiwanis club Monday evening at McGregor’s.

Following the dinner, there being no new or old business, president Don Rasmussen introduced Klayton Evans who was in charge of the program, who in turn introduced Harry Nelson, a director of the New Richmond aeronautical commission.

Nelson in turn introduced Carl E. Guell, education consultant of the Wisconsin state aeronautics commission who was the guest speaker. Mr. Guell stated that we are now living in the age of flight, though only about 29% of the people in the United States have ever flown in an airplane. Everyone is a consumer of the airplane, stated Mr. Guell. Everyone eats, wears or touches something everyday that has benefited by the airplane. The food we eat or the clothes we wear may have at one time or another been sprayed or transported by air. Also, as taxpayers, we are vitally interested in their – for example, in the military budget, over half of the money allotted goes to the Air Force.

He brought out the fact that due to the speed of air travel, everyone on the earth is now a neighbor. Places that used to take months of travel time are now merely hours away. This enables everyone to visit places formerly out of the questions because of the necessary travel time requirements. Out of air travel and the short time to go from one country to another, should come a better understanding and acceptance of the peoples of the earth.

In regard to the New Richmond airport, a number of responsible citizens saw the definite need for an airport and they started the action necessary to get an airport here. According to Mr. Guell, New Richmond was in the state airport plan, but in order for New Richmond to get one, it was necessary that local citizens start the action to get one.

In the state airport plan, all of the airline stops are now in existence. There are 16 such airports in Wisconsin. There are also 92 general aviation airports in the state airport plan, of which 47 are now in operation or, like New Richmond’s, is in the definite planning state. The state airport plan sets a minimum of one airport per county.

In building these airports, the federal government believes they are so necessary that the federal government will pay for half of the cost of the general project. The balance of the money is to come from the sponsoring body, however, depending upon money available, the state of Wisconsin will pay up to half of the sponsor’s share. Money avaiable at this time enables the city of New Richmond to receive a little over 10% of the cost or about $10,000 in our case.

Mr. Guell brought out the fact that personal aviation has more planes, more money in airplanes, more seats that all of the airlines combined.

According to Mr. Guell, there is no doubt of the advantage to a city having an airport. He cited examples where cities received new industry because they had an airport and several cases where cites had lost industries and the possibilities of new industries because they were unable to furnish then with airport facilities. It was brought out that many industries could not function without airplanes. Modern industry requires the mobility of its executives and only by having private aircraft at their disposal readily available locally can they continue to operate and grow.

The New Richmond airport project became a reality when a public hearing was held March 13, 1962 where objectors and those in favor of the project were heard. Following the hearing the aeronautics commission was brought into the picture by choosing a site on August 31. On September 14, after checking the site and the need, the program was approved and signed, and sent to the federal government for approval. On October 18 the bonds were authorized, and the agency agreement whereby the aeronautic commission would act as agent for New Richmond was signed. This would enable the commission to accept money and handle the details of the building of the airport and then when it was acceptable, the commission would turn the airport over to the city of New Richmond.

The airport will have a northwest – southeast runway, 75x3000 feet, which will enable it to receive aircraft up to twin engine types. It will include the purchase of the property, lighting, windsock fencing and the paving of the one runway and the parking area for the planes. There will be another smaller runway which for the time being will be a sod runway and useable for light single aircraft. It will be an all-weather, night and day airport. The cost of the airport will be $125,000 with the federal government providing $61,500, the state of Wisconsin $10,000, and the city picking up the balance.


April 25, 1963


At a meeting of the common council held Monday evening the Bank of New Richmond was the successful bidder of the offering of $50,000 in notes sold by the city of New Richmond to finance its share of the airport that is planned for our town. The bank offered a rate of 3% interest plus a premium of $10, which brings the interest rate down a wee bit from 3%.

Incidentally, the Bank of New Richmond was the only bidder. The note issue had been advertised quite extensively but no other financial institution bothered to ender a bid. Art Peterson, exec vice president of the bank, told the council members that the board of directors of the bank wanted to do something of a local character and decided to bid in the notes at such a low interest rate. And it should be pointed out that the Bank of New Richmond saved the day. Wonder what would have happened if the council had been "skunked" in getting no bids?

The notes are a general obligation on all taxable property in the city of New Richmond and the city’s credit is supposed to be AAA-1, more or less.

During the discussion of the sale of the notes after the bid had been opened, Utilities Manager Wm. DuBois has some sort of an offer that might be ok with the utility commission members that the commission would soon be getting some expired certificates of deposit bearing 4% interest – these funds might be available to the city at 3%.

The city fathers didn’t understand this reasoning so they unanimously voted to accept the low bid from the Bank of New Richmond.


May 2, 1963


At a special meeting of the common council Tuesday evening the $50,000 airport general obligation notes were wrapped up and made ready for the signature of the mayor and city clerk. It was as easy as that – we’re gonna have an airport! We never had it so good.


June 20, 1963


A Beechcraft Bonanza 4-seater airplane made a skidding, bouncing landing on a private airport south of New Richmond, Sunday, June 16. Although the airplane was extensively damaged, the occupants, Mr. And Mrs. Ira Clark, Madison, survived the crash without injuries.

The Clarks were going to land at New Richmond to visit Mr. And Mrs. R.E. Hogan, 132 South Washington av. They were on their way home after visiting a daughter and her family in Seattle, Wash. They left Seattle Saturday and flew as far as Miles City, Mont., that day and were completing their trip to New Richmond, Sunday. Mrs. Clark and Mrs. Hogan are sisters.

When they dropped down for lunch at Watertown S.D., they called the Hogans requesting they make arrangements for them to land at the makeshift airport south of town. The field isn’t exactly ideal for airplanes and with some misguided signals from a spectator on the ground, Mr. Clark decided to land against his conviction that he should have continued on to his alternate course, in case he didn’t land in New Richmond.

When the Clark airplane came onto the field, the pilot said the wind sock, a visual wind direction indicator, was limp, indicating there was no wind. However, just as the pilot lost air speed in preparation to landing, a wind came up and the pilot found he was landing downwind. Witnesses said he applied power as he hit the first fence and tried to get airborne but was unable to get into the air without stalling his airplane.

The plane went about a quarter mile and through six fences before coming to a halt on the seventh. The front landing gear was smashed, both wings were damaged and the propeller was twisted.

The plane was dismantled Tuesday and haled to Mpls. Mr. Clark is an experienced pilot and has flown thousands of miles in traveling about the USA. They returned to their home in Madison, Wednesday.

January 16, 1999

According to local airport historians, the publisher of The News / Mayor of New Richmond, John A. Van Meter, didn't exactly care for the airport project.  You might have noticed he started out with a very positive attitude regarding the airport in early 1962, but turned pretty bitter in late 1962 and through 1963 (Mr. Van Meter was elected Mayor of  New Richmond in April 1962).  Things got so bad he started referring to the airport at New Richmond City Council meetings and in The News as "Idle Field Airport". 


August 15,1963


It was disclosed at Monday’s meeting of the common council that bids for the construction of Idle Field airport will be opened in the city offices at 11 am., Thursday, Aug. 29.

The project is under the direct supervision of the Wisconsin aeronautics commission, the common council has little if anything to do with the airport at this stage – it already has furnished the city’s share of the cost, and until it is completed and turned over to the city to maintain and operate, the city fathers have no further worries.

View a pdf copy of the original advertisement for bids

View a pdf copy of the original proposal for construction


September 5, 1962


(Mayor/Publisher John A. Van Meter’s personal column appearing each week)

Yep, we never had it so good. Tuesday we countersigned a check that included $500 in interest on the Idle Field airport bonds – already the first installment of interest has come & gone and construction of the project hasn’t started yet. A contract was let last week for construction which might begin about Oct. 1, give or take a few days, and the time limit for the work is 120 days which could stretch it out into next spring –yuh can’t hardly lay hot mix asphalt in the winter in these parts, etc.

During the promotion of the field at no time do we recall the items of interest as an expense was ever mentioned and we guess the interest on the bonds will run into some $3,000 (more or less) plus the many other "hidden" costs of the field.


September 19, 1963


The start of actual construction on Idle Field airport north of the city in the township of Star Prairie should start most any moment now.

A slight hitch in the details of awarding the contract came up Wednesday morning in Eau Claire. It appeared that Mayor John A. Van Meter’s signature was needed on some of a form approving the contractor’s bond. A call was placed from Eau Claire to the mayor and would he please drive out to the so-called airport south of New Richmond, and sign his name twice.

Sure, no sooner said than done. A member of the state aeronautics commission got into a plane in Eau Claire and landed right on schedule, a scant half hour after he left and the mayor pulled up in his car just as the plane landed – that’s timing. It didn’t take over a minute for greetings and the signatures and the plane was on its way back to Eau Claire and the final hurdle leading to the start of construction of Idle Field airport was cleared.

For good measure and in case a witness to the signature were needed the mayor took Fred Sontag along for the ride, to watch the proceedings, see the plane takeoff and anyhow he never knew there was an airport south of town.

And come to think of it, how come the mayor isn’t entitled to, say $50 a month care allowance for use of his car on official business – just like the manager of the municipal utilities and/or director of public works receives?

We never had it so good . . . it can’t get any worse!


October 3, 1963


Construction of the municipal airport has started with the moving in of earth moving equipment by the Wilson-Shipler, Inc. Construction company. The Beloit firm was awarded the bid for the construction of the airport over five other bidders with a bid of $55,775.44.

The airport will cover 153 acres of farm land about a mile north of New Richmond, just west of hwy 65. The land is part of six farms owned by Wisconsin Development Corporation (26 acres), Melvin and Margaret Mickelson (9 acres), Emma E. Weber (29 acres), Anna Swanka (33 acres), Herbert and Elma Daye (35 acres), and Theodore and Margaret Krongard (21 acres).

The airport is a $125,000 project with the city share being $53,500, the state share $10,000 and the federal share $61,500. These are all estimated costs.

The airport will have two runways. The hardtop runway will be a 3,000 foot long runway northwest by southeast. It will be 75 feet wide. There will be in the future, a 3200 turf runway running northeast by southwest.

Also planned in the airport is a driveway and a parking area at the southeast end of the airport, near hwy 65. The Genisot Engineering company, Rhinelander, is supervising the job with Alvin Fawley the resident engineer.


October 3, 1963


(Mayor/Publisher John A. Van Meter’s personal column appearing each week)

Understand work in Idle Field airport is underway . . . guess the contractors got 120 working days to finish the job and that means the dedication jubilee won’t be held until next summer, if anyone bothers to christen the field. Yuh know, we moved into a new post office and didn’t so much as send flowers nor ask our favorite congressman to give it his blessing. Nor did we christen the new quarters for city hall and/or office space when we acquired the old post office quarters for a five year lease for $13,500 – wow!


October 17, 1963


(Mayor/Publisher John A. Van Meter’s personal column appearing each week)

Idle Field airport is underway. The grading and base gravel job may be completed this year and the asphalt runway laid next spring. We presume you can hardly wait for its completion and ready for use?


December 19, 1963

A photo appeared in The News. The caption read: This could be the first plane to land on New Richmond’s Idle Field airport. Richard I. Sterns is the pilot and is shown standing (forward), the other man was not identified. Stearns is president of Murphy & Nye, Inc., Chicago, and uses a Beechcraft Bonanza to make business calls. He came to New Richmond to confer with the packaging machinery division of Doughboy Industries. His visit took place Dec. 9.


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