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Oktibbeha County Airports – old, forgotten or abandoned

February 25, 2012

For Starkville Daily News

Do you remember the airports and their locations in Starkville?
The first airport was located in the parking lot of what is now Bulldog Lanes on Highway 12.
The second airport was located on the site of the current Starkville Municipal Airport, Bryan Airport.
The third airport was the temporary airfield, called Love Field, located in the North West quarter at the intersection of Camps Airport Road and Old West Point Road.
The fourth airport established was Oktibbeha Airport, locally known as Camp’s Airport, located between Highway 182 and Old West Point Road on Camps Airport Road.
On Dec. 20, 1946, the Oktibbeha Airport won a citation for economical service and courtesy.  The following article gives a little history of this airport.
“Southern Flight,” a leading aviation magazine, in each issue recommended some airport for the traveling air public. These recommendations were based on reports from reliable cross-country fliers, ferry pilots and others.
The airport was honored in 1946 with the following citation:
“A good place to stop for food, service and friendly courtesy when you’re flying through Mississippi is Oktibbeha Airport, located about 100 miles due west of Birmingham and eight miles east of Starkville.
The field is turf and fairly smooth with plenty of room for anything up to and including a twin-engine Beech. Approaches are open and because of the airport’s close proximity to two main highways, one running from Starkville to Columbus and the other from West Point southward the field should be an easy place to find and get into if you’re caught in bad weather. Circling before landing, we wished for runway markers, but after landing we found any part of the field to be suitable for aircraft operations.
“Finding the gas pit was easy because a lineman directed us in, from the minute we touched down. With a cheery ‘Want some ‘go juice?’” he had the gas cap off and 80 octane running into the tank almost before we could step out of the ship. On checking the oil, we found the oil cap loose and the engine compartment flooded with oil. Not wishing to run the chance of fire in the air, we asked to have the engine ‘degunked’ and hoped, silently, that the management would be more humanitarian when computing the bill than had been the last Eastern operator, when the same thing had occurred.
“’If you would like something to eat, there’s a canteen right on the field, sir,’ offered the lineman. ‘I’ll have the ship ready to go in less than half hour.’ We smiled our thanks with hopes the ship might be ready in a few hours or so. We wandered over to the canteen for lunch.
“While the canteen could stand some modernizing, insofar as fixtures go the operator’s wife, Mrs. Mason S. Camp, outdid herself in fixing some food that was excellent, if plain. Orange juice, two eggs, sliced ham, toast and two cups of coffee came to a total of only 35 cents.  While we were eating Mrs. Camp told us that although her husband had been flying since 1926 and was therefore considered an old-timer, he was attempting to operate the field in as modern a way as possible and at fair prices.
“There are four hangars (all filled), a parachute loft and engine and aircraft repair facilities. The Camps also own a lake adjoining the airport and offer its fishing facilities to visiting pilots.  Amphibians are requested to land on the airport, as the lake is a mite too small for safe aircraft operations.
“Just before leaving the canteen and the friendly Mrs. Camp, we were told there were dormitories available on the field for $1 per person per night. Or, if we preferred a hotel room, and the Camps would provide transportation into and from town free.
“Just a half hour after walking into the canteen we returned to the ship and found, much to our pleasure, that it had been cleaned, buttoned up and ready to go! The bill for the cleaning job? A grand total of 75 cents!
“As we taxied out for take-off, we made up our mind that all future trips through that part of the country would be planned with a stop-over at Oktibbeha Airport, where service with a smile is practiced as well as preached.”

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