Reno-Stead Airport began in 1942, as the Reno Army Air Base, and was built by the Army Air Corps. In 1951, the air base was renamed Stead Air Force Base in honor of Croston Stead, who died while engaging in a mock dog fight in his P-51 Mustang.
From 1954-1964, the air base served as a training center for 80,000 Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and foreign officers, as well as most of the pre-1965 astronauts. The military officers were given classroom instruction on basic survival, evasion and escape. The field training consisted of trying to survive in the harsh mountainous terrain surrounding Stead. Conditions were worsened by the instructors simulating guerrillas and trying to capture the students. The classroom and field training lasted 15-21 days.
In 1963, the air base was set to close, along with 25 other military bases throughout the country. In 1966, the Stead Air Force Base was transferred to the City of Reno, and in June of 1966, it began operating as Reno-Stead Airport.
Since 1966, Reno-Stead Airport has been home to military operations, the birthplace of the Lear Fan, and home to the National Championship Air Races.
In 1978, the ownership of Reno-Stead Airport transferred to the Airport Authority which acquired more than 2,600 additional acres in 1994. The Reno-Stead Airport gained a FAA Unmanned Autonomous Systems test site designation in 2013, along with the grand opening of a general aviation terminal named the Freedom Flight Terminal.
In 2022, RTAA celebrated a ground breaking for industrial development at RTS.
Learn more about the future plans of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority and its airports, the Reno-Stead Airport and Reno-Tahoe International Airport.