Long Island MacArthur Airport - KISP | History | Part 1

Inspired by @Kevin_Potthast’s thread about STL, I decided to make this one for ISP. There are numerous other airports on LI, some big and some small, but I decided to do ISP.

Located in Islip, in Suffolk County, this airport serves approximately 1.1 million people yearly. The population of Long Island is more than twice that, but a good amount of Long Islanders like to use JFK or LGA more often. KISP is one of three passenger service airports on Long Island, the other two being JFK and LGA in Queens. Currently, the airport has 3 airlines serving it: American Airlines (American Eagle), Frontier, and Southwest. Combined, the airlines operate 25-26 daily flights out of the airport.

American: 4x daily - PHL (E145/Dash 8-100, Dash 8-100’s get retired late November)
Frontier: 7/8x daily - 2x daily MCO (A320/A319), 2x daily MIA (A320), 4x weekly MSY (A319), 1x daily PBI (A319), 1x daily RSW (A321), 1x daily TPA (A321)
Southwest: 14x daily - 5x daily BWI, 3x daily MCO, 2/3x daily FLL, 2x daily PBI, 1x daily TPA

About 75% of WN’s flights here are on a -700, the others on an -800. And starting April 8th 2018, Frontier will be adding 1x daily ATL, 4x weekly DTW, 1x daily ORD, and 3x weekly MSP. At the airport, there are 2 concourses. Concourse A with gates A1-A8, and concourse B with B19 and B23. American operates out of gate A1, they purchased that gate from Southwest. Southwest operates from gates A2-A8, and Frontier operates from gates B19 and B23. Concourse A is modern and spacious, Southwest tore down the old 3-gate concourse in 2004 and built the new one for $55 million, along with an updated check-in and security area. Concourse B, built in the 1980’s is nice too, but doesn’t have any shops, restaurants, and is pretty narrow/small. All gates in both concourses have jet bridges.

Enough about the present, let’s get into the history!

In April 1942, four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Town of Islip contracted with the federal government to build an airfield on town-owned land for military use. Within months, the Civil Aeronautics Administration – predecessor to today’s FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) – funded construction for three paved runways. Originally named Islip Airport, at the suggestion of Charles H. Duryea, a local elected official, the airport was renamed MacArthur Airport after General Douglas MacArthur, whose dramatic escape from the Philippines was making headlines worldwide.
In 1944, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation constructed the first hangar at the airport. Five years later, the Town of Islip built the airport’s first terminal building preparing for airline flights. The airport was also used throughout the 1950’s for the Sperry Corporation to conduct research.

In 1960, Allegheny Airlines was the first airline to operate scheduled passenger service with flights from the airport to Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C… In March 1961, there were five weekday Convair 440 propliner departures: a nonstop to Washington National, one to Baltimore, and three flights direct to Boston via several stops. The General Douglas MacArthur Terminal was finished in 1966. In 1967, Mohawk Airlines began operating two Fairchild Hiller FH-227 turboprop flights a day: one to Bridgeport CT, and the other to Albany, with one of these flights continuing on to Toronto. By 1969, Mohawk was flying BAC One-Eleven jet service nonstop to Syracuse. In 1972, the airline was continuing to operate nonstop flights to Albany with one-stop service to Buffalo and Rochester. Mohawk would then be merged into Allegheny Airlines.

Old picture of the original terminal, date unknown, Source

In 1971 American Airlines began operating nonstop Boeing 727-100 service to Chicago O’Hare Airport. By 1974, Allegheny had introduced jet service as well with BAC One-Eleven and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 twin jets with nonstop flights to Albany and Washington DCA, and one-stop jet flights to Burlington VT, Cincinnati and Detroit with the airline continuing to operate Convair 580 turboprop flights nonstop to Albany, Boston, Bridgeport and Washington D.C. with one-stop Convair 580 service to Buffalo and Rochester. Allegheny would be renamed USAir which then became US Airways with these respective airlines operating service into the airport for many years before US Airways was merged into American Airlines.

Photo taken in 1980. The shot looks like it was taken in the early morning, due to the angle of the sunlight. Source

It’s getting pretty late and I’m tired, so part 2 will be added to the thread soon. Stick around!


Yay it’s finally done!


What a beautifully written topic! Cant wait to read the 2nd part! :)


The third one should be about Farmingdale’s Republic Airport or Bethpage’s Grumman.

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