Morris Field historical marker

Morris Field (L-118)

A U.S. Army air base, 1941-1946. Named for Maj. William Morris, WWI pilot. The 5,000 acre facility became airport at this site.

Location: West Blvd. at Airport Dr., Charlotte
County: Mecklenburg
Original Date Cast: 2021

Morris Field was a U.S. Army Air Corps base at Charlotte during World War II. It was one of nine military airfields in North Carolina during the conflict.

The airport began as a municipal airfield in the 1930s. Originally, Charlotte was served by a small, privately-owned airstrip known as the Charlotte Airport (later known as Cannon Field), which utilized the old airstrip constructed during World War I as part of the army base, Camp Greene. The postwar private airport provided only limited service, however, and Charlotte mayor Ben E. Douglas pushed for the creation of a municipal airfield. The city received funding for the construction of an airport by the Works Progress Administration in 1935. By mid-1937, the project was completed, and the facility was opened as the Charlotte Municipal Airport, with Eastern Airlines offering scheduled passenger service.

In April 1941, the airport was taken over by the U.S. Army Air Corps and was renamed the Charlotte Army Air Base. It was initially a small operation with only three runways. It served as a training facility for pilots and gunners and also as a center for maintenance and repair. Following the outbreak of World War II, the base was renamed in January 1942, this time as Morris Field, after Major William Colb Morris (1891-1939). A native of Harrisburg, N.C., Morris was a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and had served as a flight instructor and as a pilot during World War I.

During the war, Morris Field expanded in size with many new buildings added. The Army invested over $5 million in improvements to the facility, and the base proved to be a major boost to the local economy. Various units rotated in and out of the base for periods of duty lasting several months each. The base published its own newspaper and broadcast a weekly radio show. Some commercial aviation continued to operate from the north side of the airfield.

In 1946, the U.S. Army closed Morris Field and the airport reverted back to Charlotte, resuming its prewar name of the Charlotte Municipal Airport. Many of the wartime barracks and other military buildings were remodeled into apartments as the city faced a postwar housing shortage. In 1954, it was renamed Douglas Municipal Airport to honor the mayor who was responsible for the airport’s original creation, and it became Charlotte Douglas International Airport in 1982. It is still in operation today.

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