The first known airport in Hardin County was located south of Elizabethtown near Glendale in the 1930s. This airfield served as an auxiliary landing field for U.S. Airmail pilots. In the 1940s and 1950s a couple of privately owned grass landing strips were located where Towne Mall now stands.
The Elizabethtown/Hardin County Airport was the city’s first “real” airport. Located on the north side of the city on U.S. Highway 31W, the airport featured a paved runway 2,800 feet long and opened in the late 1950s. Sam Swope served as the first chairman of the Elizabethtown Airport Board. The airport’s Fixed Base Operator, Elizabethtown Flying Service (EFS), was founded in 1960.
Following the death of EFS founder Ben Floyd, the airport was renamed in his memory--Ben Floyd Field. Roger Lawson purchased EFS and continues as the company’s president to this day.
By the late 1970s, the airport had become outdated. The east-west runway could not be extended due both to terrain restrictions and to its location near the Dixie Highway. Due to the short runway, the airport could not serve the growing fleet of business jets used by companies interested in developing new plants in communities like Elizabethtown.
The community began to consider its long-term aviation needs. Led by the late Bill Schmidt, then serving as Airport Board Chairman, who is recognized as the father of modern aviation in Hardin County, the city developed a modern new airport on the west side of Elizabethtown adjacent to the city’s new regional industrial park. This bold vision and move created a quasi-modal economic center for the area.
The new airport--Addington Field (named for the family that sold the land on which the airport is located)--opened in 1982 with one runway 4,000 feet long and 75 feet wide. The runway was extended to 5,000 feet in the mid-1980s.
By 1985, the Elizabethtown Industrial Foundation began recruiting commercial airline service to the field as part of its efforts to attract and recruit new industry and new jobs to the area. Two airlines--Piedmont Commuter and Delta Connection--started service to EKX.
Piedmont Commuter provided five daily flights to Piedmont Airlines’ connecting hub in Dayton, Ohio. Delta Connection carrier Comair provided seven daily flights to Delta’s connecting hub at the Greater Cincinnati Airport in Northern Kentucky. Both Piedmont and Delta provided service with 19 passenger turboprop aircraft. In the end, both airlines pulled out of the market, victims of too much service too soon in a brand new market.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) assigned the airport its new three-letter identification code--EKX. The airport continued to grow. In 1991, Joe Yates became the Chairman of the Elizabethtown Airport Board.
During the 1990s, the runway was again extended this time to 6,000 feet. The runway was also widened to 100 feet, making the EKX runway one of the longest in Kentucky. Several new hangars were built. Life Flight established its Central Kentucky medical helicopter base at EKX. Instrument approach procedures were also updated.
Over the years, the airport’s Fixed Base Operator (FBO) -- Elizabethtown Flying Service -- has grown with the airport. Today, EFS is one of the largest FBOs in Kentucky, providing complete refueling, aircraft rental, flight training, major airframe and major power plant maintenance, avionics sales and service. The company provides complete ground services for corporate aircraft – including catering.
As a result of the growth that is occurring in the area (the Elizabethtown/Fort Knox corridor is now the fourth largest urban area in Kentucky) and as a result of numerous inquiries from area businesses, industries, and residents, the Elizabethtown Airport Board is now working to restore commercial airline service at EKX through its Airline Service Restoration Project.
As part of this project, the EAB recently changed the name of the airport from Addington Field to Addington Field - Elizabethtown Regional Airport to reflect the new regional orientation of its emerging mission. The EAB also adopted a new logo to promote the new name.
As part of this effort, the Elizabethtown Airport Board recently commissioned a concept drawing for a new passenger terminal from LHB Architects of Elizabethtown. The terminal is designed to provide a dramatic portal to Elizabethtown, Fort Knox and all of Central Kentucky. The terminal is designed to be environmentally efficient and easily expanded. The terminal will include space for a USO lounge, business center and restaurant.
The future is indeed bright for EKX!