The Little Airport That Could
Deer Valley Municipal Airport was built in 1960 as a private airfield with a single runway. This simple facility had no control tower and very limited amenities. In 1971, the City of Phoenix purchased the 482-acre site. Operations began with a temporary air traffic control tower sitting atop a four-foot mound of dirt. Locals joked that the mobile unit looked more like a hot dog stand. They were not too far off; the aging piece of equipment was being used as a hothouse for growing tomatoes before being called back into service for the airport.
In 1975, a new terminal was constructed and the FAA began directing air traffic. Moving into a modern control tower, the FAA replaced Deer Valley's four hard-working radio operators with 26 air traffic controllers. The airport also became home to the Phoenix Police Department who utilize a 12,000-square-foot hangar for their citywide helicopter operations.
The Phoenix City Council adopted a Master Plan for the airport in 1986. The plan called for improvements enabling Deer Valley to accommodate a wider range of aircraft. Lengthening the south runway was its first focus and allowed the airfield to support over 90 percent of the nation's general aviation fleet. Other major improvements followed, including utility enhancements, storm drain construction, apron paving, extension of the north runway/taxiway system and the addition of hangars and covered tie-downs. In total, $17 million turned the modest airfield into a modern, full-service airport. Since then, an additional 469 T-hangars have been constructed on the airport's north side, and the main runway has been reconstructed. In 2007, the FAA completed construction of a state-of-the-art air traffic control tower on the north side of the airport and the airport is in the process of rehabilitating most of the pavement on the south and northwest areas costing a total of more than 17 million dollars. The City Council adopted a revised Master Plan in 2007 calling for a balance approach to accommodate all customers of the airport. This includes potential development of corporate hangers on vacant land on the southeast side of the airport.
Careful planning and a sleek, contemporary design have earned Phoenix Deer Valley recognition as one of the nation's finest general aviation airports.