In March 1920, a ministerial provision on territorial distribution and organisation of military forces and services designated Leon as a location for one of the air stations established under the provision. In 1924, works were authorised to adapt the air station so that Leon airport could be used for stopovers by aircraft on the routes that linked Madrid and Asturias. In 1929 the military aerodrome was provisionally authorised to provide commercial air navigation services.
The aerodrome was located one kilometre north of the village of Virgen del Carmen and seven kilometres south of the city of Leon, an area of hard flat land dedicated to pasture, and its navigation aids comprised a marking in the middle of the airfield and a windsock. It had four hangars to house and repair aircraft, as well as fuel, oil, water and telephone services. At that time the station was the headquarters of Number One Squadron's 21st Inspection Unit, within the Northwest Regional Fleet.
During the Spanish Civil War, the Leon aerodrome was the headquarters of numerous airborne units and at the end of the conflict it was listed as class A. At that time it had radio and telephone facilities, a radiogoniometer and night lighting.
In the 1940s an aviation school was installed in the facilities, where the first pilots graduated at the General Aviation School. When this was closed it was replaced by the Apprentices School and later by the Airforce Specialists School.
In 1964 Leon Airport was opened to commercial traffic. It now had an airfield with facilities for landing in two directions. The aeronautical limitations were published in 1967 and remained unmodified until 1988. In 1990, the local and regional governments decided to sponsor an airport infrastructure project that would encourage aeronautical activity in the province. For this purpose, Leon's Provincial Council requested authorisation from the Spanish Ministry of Defence to install civil facilities on the land of the military air station, with permission being granted in 1991.
In 1994 the first stage of Leon's civil airport project was drawn up and a runway, a link road and an aircraft parking area were built and inaugurated in 1995. The plans for the second stage of the project were drawn up in 1997 and a terminal and service building were built, the works finishing in January 1999. On 2 June 1999, Leon's civil airport was officially inaugurated, following which Iberia established scheduled flight routes to Madrid and Barcelona.
In 2003 a new Rescue and Fire Fighting Services Building was built, with its corresponding developed and landscaped area, as well as a technical block and an elevated water tank. In October 2005, the runway and aircraft parking apron extensions were put into service and an instrument landing system (ILS/I) was installed. In December 2007, a new runway extension, until 3.000 meters, was put into service by the Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Finally, in october 2010, the new terminal building was opened.
For further information, you can purchase the work of Marcos García and Luis Utrilla, Historia de La Base Aérea y Aeropuerto de León.
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