By Stan Welch
From its beginning as just an open space where hot air balloons and dirigibles landed and took off on occasion till the present, the Anderson Airport has had a long and interesting flight. On September 25, of this year, the latest landing on that flight will touch down at a newly renovated terminal, complete with improvements to the main runway, and an ADA compliant terminal.
The airport serves more than fourteen thousand passengers a year. All Clemson athletic teams, except for the football squad, flies in and out of KAND (the FAA designation for the airport) as well as most visiting teams. In the late Twenties a more or less actual airport was located in a grassy field near the current Anderson Civic Center, to ensure mail delivery and to deal with any emergency needs. Aviation legends Amelia Earhart and Roscoe Turner both used that field, drawing thousands of citizens.
In the Thirties, the area had become rutted and dangerous and the Anderson Regional Airport was formed. Two hundred thirty six acres, located at the current airport site, was purchased from J. Roy Pennell. The airport was dedicated in May of 1938. On December 8, 1941 – the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked – the airport was commandeered by troops from Fort Jackson and served as a training site for pilots.
Control of the airport was returned to local authorities in 1945. Postwar years saw the growth of commercial flights coming to Anderson. Due to the short length of the runway, larger commercial jets were unable to land at the airport, but the Anderson Airport served smaller commercial jets, private planes, and other commercial aviation needs. On October 15, 1947, Eastern Air Lines began commercial service out of Anderson with 3 flights a day.
By October 25, 1970, a new terminal, complete with baggage claim and ticket booths, was dedicated to the memory of Samuel L. “Dean” Prince because of his belief in the growth of the airport.
On May 1, 1971, the dedication of the new Flight Services Station at the Anderson Regional Airport was celebrated as a part of an ongoing modernization of the facility. On December 7, 1998, in an effort to convey to the public the extent of the airport’s impact on the Upstate, the name was changed from “Anderson County Airport” to “Anderson Regional Airport” .(Information from the ARA website.)
In 2018, the recent renovations were approved and budgeted at $6.7 million. The old terminal was demolished in 2020. The Grand Reopening will be 10 am to 3 pm on September 25.