In 1936, the Boca Raton Airport was a small City
Airport. With America entering into World War II, the Army Air Corp
suddenly underwent rapid expansion. The mild winter climate and
the flat terrain of South Florida marked the areas as ideal for
flying and aviation training. Thus, three major air bases, Homestead,
Morrison Field in West Palm Beach, and Boca Raton were developed
in the first years of the war.
The decision to locate the base at Boca Raton was made because
of the already existing city airfield and the land which was available
for its expansion. Much of the land belonged to Japanese-American
farmers who had settled in the area after the Yamato Colony had
been abandoned. The land was acquired from the farmers through the
process of condemnation.
Construction of the base began in June 1942 and continued to expand
during the war. Its boundaries included 5,860 acres and stretched
from Dixie Highway on the East to Military Trail on the West and
from the current Spanish River Blvd. On the North to Palmetto Park
Road to some point on the South. Areas like Old Floresta remained
in private hands and many of the houses in the subdivision were
rented to air force officers and their families.
While the Boca Raton field served as a base for air-sea patrol
on the look-out for enemy submarines, and a weigh station for planes
being ferried to Europe by the Southern American-African route,
its principal mission was as a radar training facility.
As the Army Air Force’s only radar training station during
World War II, the Boca Raton base grew to eight hundred buildings
with a troop strength of more than 16,000. Over nine million dollars
was spent constructing the facility and an average of 1,200 civilians
worked on the base. Instruction courses for airborne radar operators,
mechanics and electronic officers meant an ever increasing need
for flight training and for aircraft.
By 1945, one hundred planes were regularly assigned to the field.
Although most were medium bombers like the B-17, in the last year
of the war the B-29 was brought in for training procedures in radar
bombing. B-29’s carried the atomic bombs which were dropped
Life at the Boca Raton base was almost completely self-contained.
In fact, the citizens of Boca Raton soon came to be dependent upon
the base’s recreational, entertainment, and medical facilities.
Once the war ended the radar training for both American and allied
troops continued at Boca Raton but the numbers in the program constantly
declined. In 1947, the decision was made to transfer operations
of the training facility. The move was hastened by a hurricane that
hit the base and caused an estimated three million dollars in damage.
In December 29, 1948 control of the Boca Raton Airport was transferred
through a Quitclaim Deed from the United States of America, by and
through the War Assets Administration (Grantor), to the Town of
Boca Raton (Grantee).
A provision in the deed provided that the Land, Buildings, Structures,
and Improvements transferred shall be used for public airport purposes
for the use and benefit of the public, on reasonable terms and without
In the 1950’s the Federal Government released 1,000 acres
of the property for educational use (Florida Atlantic University)
and transferred control of all the land to the State of Florida.
Only 200 acres were left for airport use. Control of the 200 acre
airport then passed through five different government agencies before
the Boca Raton Airport Authority was developed to take control of
On October 27, 1983 (Lease Agreement No. 3265) the Land Lease became
effective from the State of Florida Board of Trustees of the Internal
Improvement Trust fund to the Boca Raton Airport Authority until
midnight January 22, 2073.
The Boca Raton Airport is publicly-owned and is designated as a
general aviation transport facility governed by a seven member Authority
appointed by the City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County Commission.
The airport is managed by Ken A. Day and a staff of five.