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A STOLport or STOLPORT was an airport designed with STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) operations in mind, usually for an aircraft class of certain weight and size. The term STOLport did not appear to be in common usage as of 2008 although was commonly used by pilots flying into Biggin Hill during 1986/87 when the London City airport was opened restricting approaches and ceilings to the north of Biggin. A STOLport normally had a short single runway, in general shorter than 1,500 metres (5,000 ft). STOLports only accepted certain types of aircraft, often only smaller propeller aircraft, and often with limits on the amount of fuel that can be taken. In the United States, short runway facilities are simply known as airports and the term STOLport has not been commonly used since the early 1970s.

North AmericaEdit

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines STOLports as "unique airports designed to serve airplanes that have exceptional short-field performance capabilities."[1]

In the United States, a STOLport is one of several types of facilities. STOLports are identified with an S at the end of the site ID.[2] For example, Calvert Peak STOLport is listed as FAA site number 19448.1*S.[3] As of January 2009, around 80 facilities are coded as STOLports by the FAA in the United States.[4] According to the FAA in 1968, twenty-five potential STOLport sites were identified in the Northeast Megalopolis. In the early 1970s, a study was conducted to help the FAA to determine if it was necessary to create an elevated STOLport test facility.[5] At one point in 1968, a 730 m (2,400 ft) STOLport was under consideration for a roof top in Manhattan.[6] The Toronto City Airport, with a longest runway of 1,216 m (3,988 ft), went into a period of decline in the 1980s and 1990s, but has since been revitalized as a city centre airport by Porter Airlines, flying de Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8 Q400 turboprops. However, it is not officially designated as a STOLport.


In Scotland with islands, there are some airports with very short runways, but still having scheduled flights. Examples include Colonsay Airport (1,644 ft /501 m), Foula Airfield (1,252 ft / 382 m) and Westray Airport (1,729 ft / 527 m). They are usually flown with the small special aircraft Britten-Norman Islander.

Norway and GreenlandEdit

Between 1965 and 1987, approximately 30 regional airports were built in Norway, typically equipped with a 800-metre-long (2,600 ft) runway. They were intended to improve transportation systems and shorten travel times to areas that were considered difficult to reach by other means.[7] In Norwegian, they are called "kortbaneflyplass" ("short runway airport"). As they were built in areas with relatively low population density and terrain that often wouldn't permit a standard length runway, it became essential to build shorter runways and use smaller airplanes. Today, the airports are frequented by airliners that have been awarded subsidies from the Norwegian government. They typically fly feeder routes to larger hub airports that have direct routes to Oslo and other major cities in Norway. Though most of the routes are flown by Widerøe, other airliners occasionally win bids on some of the routes.

950 meter runway at Nuuk

Based on the Norwegian example, several short runway airports (800–900 meters) were built in Greenland, replacing heliports. The country at that time only had a few airports, built by the US defense in hidden locations far from Greenlandic settlements. Still the short runway airports (including at the capital Nuuk) can't accept flights from distant places like Denmark or the UK. Some of the airports of Iceland are STOLports, although most are longer. The availability of STOL aircraft has enabled Air Iceland to extend its network to Greenland.

Avinor, the Norwegian airport authority worries about the future availability of aircraft for 800 m (2,600 ft) runway, in future when older aircraft currently used retires. Avinor has found that after 2010, no new aircraft can be bought which has more than 20 seats and is able to use such short runways. For this reason there are plans to extend runways to 1,200 m (3,900 ft) or in some cases to build new airports, and to close some combined with road improvements.[8] The least used will not be extended, but will have to be flown with very small aircraft. Also in Greenland this is discussed for the same reason. Rising fuel prices makes low drag a desirable feature, so STOL aircraft might be less desirable or numerous in future.

Historical STOLportsEdit

Several attempts were undertaken at the late 1960s and early 1970s to create STOLports in the United States for the New York City and Los Angeles, California areas; however, most are not operational or no longer in existence at the present time. There was also Victoria STOLport in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The first US STOLport for commercial operation was commissioned August 5, 1968, at La Guardia airport and was available for VFR use only.[9] This 334 m (1,096 ft) STOL runway was dubbed the LaGuardia STOLPORT.[10]

The first officially designated STOLport in the U.S. opened on October 17, 1971, at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Shawnee Airlines operated scheduled passenger service between the Walt Disney World Airport (DWS, also known as the Lake Buena Vista STOLport) and Orlando McCoy Jetport (MCO, now the Orlando International Airport) as well as the Tampa International Airport (TPA) with de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter turboprop STOL aircraft.[11] Information concerning the Shawnee Airlines STOL service appeared in the Eastern Airlines system timetable dated September 6, 1972 with regard to connecting service between the two airlines at either Orlando or Tampa.[12] The 610 m (2,000 ft) STOL runway at this former airport is no longer in use. Prior to that date, only portions of facilities were designated STOLports. Plans at the time called for an interstate STOL transportation system. On July 26, 1972; the FAA V/STOL office was renamed to the Quiet Short-Haul Air Transportation System Office refocusing it and reflecting public concerns about noise created by smaller more numerous STOLports as opposed to larger airports. The Quiet Short-Haul Air Transportation System Office was eliminated June 11, 1974.[9] Logan International Airport opened an 550 m (1,800 ft) STOL runway September 20, 1968 for testing Eastern's STOL capable Breguet 941 turboprop shuttle on east coast routes.[13]

Some STOLports were never open to public aviation and were privately owned, such as the Avon STOLPort,[14] a 1,200 m (4,000 ft) runway located adjacent to the town of Avon, Colorado that was constructed specifically to handle tourist flights for nearby ski resorts in the Vail area. The Avon STOLPort was owned and operated by Rocky Mountain Airways which operated de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7 STOL turboprops from this mountain airfield. The Avon STOLport is no longer in existence.

Another privately owned STOL airfield was the Clear Lake City STOLport (CLC) located in the Houston, Texas area near the NASA Johnson Space Center. This small airport which included a 760 m (2,500 ft) runway, an aircraft hangar, and a passenger terminal was constructed in 1969 and owned by Houston Metro Airlines which later changed its name to Metro Airlines. The airline operated Twin Otters from this suburban airfield with shuttle service to Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH). According to the February 1, 1976 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Houston Metro was operating 22 round trip flights on weekdays between Clear Lake City and Houston Intercontinental.[15] After Metro Airlines decided to pursue other avenues of business in the airline industry, the Clear Lake City STOLport was abandoned and then demolished to make way for new suburban development. There is no trace remaining of this pioneering airfield.[16]

STOLport airlinesEdit

Rocky Mountain Airways was the worldwide launch customer of the de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7 four engine turboprop STOL aircraft. Rocky Mountain selected the 50-passenger Dash 7 specifically for the purpose of transporting passengers into high mountain airports with short runways such as the Avon STOLport located near Vail, Colorado from its hub located at Denver Airport.[17][18] The airline also utilized the Dash 7 for scheduled flights into the small Steamboat Springs Airport (SBS) in Colorado. Rocky Mountain first began airline operations with de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft before subsequently commencing Dash 7 service and only operated STOL capable aircraft during its existence.[citation needed]

Houston Metro Airlines (later renamed as Metro Airlines) operated Twin Otters in scheduled "cross-town" air service between the Clear Lake City STOLport (CLC) in Clear Lake City, Texas and Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH, now Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport) which had a dedicated STOL runway at the time. According to the February 1976 edition of the Official Airline Guide (OAG), the airline was operating 22 roundtrip flights every weekday between CLC and IAH in a passenger shuttle service.[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Stolport Manual Archived 2006-10-13 at the Wayback Machine (Doc 9150) International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
  2. ^ FAA. Advisory Circular 150/5200-35. Page 6. (PDF page 8) FAA SITE NR S = Stolport
  3. ^ OR73.
  4. ^ FAA. Airport Data (5010) & Contact Information. The January 15, 2009 NFDC facility database listed 82 facilities as TYPE=STOLPORT. The NFDC runway database listed 2 runways as having "STOL" markings and 6 runways designated with an "S" meaning "STOL runway"
  5. ^ Elevated STOLport Test Facility Conceptual Development and Cost Study. April 1973.
  6. ^ DECISION HELD UP ON SHIP TERMINAL; Council Unit Asks Agencies for Additional Data The New York Times. December 13, 1968
  7. ^ Excerpt from history of Avinor (Norwegian). Accessed May 21, 2010.
  8. ^ Avinor vil legge ned fire flyplasser (in Norwegian)
  9. ^ a b FAA Chronology Archived 2008-06-24 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed August 26, 2008.
  10. ^ Starting STOL Time. Aug. 16, 1968.
  11. ^ The short, short life of Disney World's STOLport. (Blog)
  12. ^, Eastern Airlines Sept. 6, 1972 system timetable, page 68
  13. ^ Eastern's STOL Shuttle Trials. John Bentley. Flight International. October 17, 1968.
  14. ^
  15. ^ February 1, 1976 Official Airline Guide, North American Edition, Clear Lake City – Houston Intercontinental flight schedulee
  16. ^
  17. ^ The History and Impact of Rocky Mountain Airways [1] AirInsight Interview with former Rocky Mountain Airways CEO. January 6, 2011.
  18. ^ [2] Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields – Avon STOLPort (WHR), Avon, CO
  19. ^ Feb. 1, 1976 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Houston (IAH)-Clear Lake City (CLC) flight schedules

Further readingEdit

Audio InterviewsEdit