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Sarasota Army Airfield
Sarasota Bradenton International Airport

6000 Airport Circle
Sarasota, Florida 34243
Manatee County
941-359-2770

This site is located in the Southwest region of the state.

DIRECTIONS
To reach the airport from I-75, use Exit 40 then west onto University Parkway, go 5 miles then turn right at the traffic signal into the terminal. From Sarasota, proceed North on US 41/Tamiami Trail to University Parkway, turn right, then merge into the left lane and turn left at the first traffic signal. From Bradenton, proceed South on US 41/Tamiami Trail to University Parkway, stay in the left lane and turn left at the first traffic signal.

Leased to the Army Air Corps in early 1942, the newly constructed Sarasota Bradenton Airport became Sarasota Army Airfield. Initially a 620-acre facility, the Army added 250 acres to the site in the course of its use. The 97th Bombardment Group transferred in March 1942 from MacDill in Tampa to begin training on the B-17 Flying Fortress. Designated a sub-base of MacDill in June of that year, the base soon changed focus from bombers to fighters. Because the runways could not withstand the weight of the bombers, the 69th Fighter Squadron transferred to Sarasota from Drew Army Airfield in Tampa to train on P-39 Airacobras.

Sub-bases to Sarasota AAF were located at Bartow, St. Petersburg, Fort Myers, and Tampa, while airfields at Immokalee, Lake Wales, Punta Gorda and Winter Haven served as auxiliary fields.

Local civic groups created recreational facilities for white airmen at the Municipal Auditorium (a National Register of Historic Places listed site) and at the Municipal Pier. African-American airmen found their entertainment and amusement in a segregated facility in Sarasota.

By late 1947 the Army had transferred the land back to the Airport authority for civilian use of the field as Sarasota Bradenton International Airport.

To recognize the significance of this site, the Sarasota County Historical Commission placed a historic marker in front of the main terminal in 1996. In addition, numerous unit specific commemorative plaques are found in the main terminal building near the main entrance.

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LINKS:
Sarasota Bradenton International Airport

  • http://www.srq-airport.com/welcome.html
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