History - Quad City International Airport

A Quick Look Back in History 

In 1910 a Rock River valley pasture, known as Franing Field, was selected for the first coast-to-coast flight by army planes.  Three men leased 30 acres in this pasture, and it officially became an airport.  One year later real estate had increased to 200 acres.  In 1926 regular airmail service began.  Operations were expanded in 1927 when Boeing Air Transport began flying between Chicago and San Francisco. Later that year Boeing Air Transport, Valley Air Transport, Pacific Air Transport, and National merged to form United Airlines which provided passenger and mail service to the east and west coasts as well as to the southwestern United States.

In 1935 the city of Moline, Illinois, took over the airport as a municipal, tax supported airport.  The second largest Work Projects Administration project in Illinois was underway at a cost to Moline of $165,000 and $365,000 to the federal government.  A new terminal and hangar were built in 1939 with five scheduled air carrier flights per day and 24 private aircraft based on airport property.  Rock Island County citizens voted in 1947 to buy the airport creating the Metropolitan Airport Authority of Rock Island County, Illinois, (MAA) as its owner.

Ozark Air Lines began service at the airport in 1950.  In 1954 a terminal building was built to provide space for United and Ozark Airlines, as well as limousine service, car rentals, the Civil Aeronautics Administration, and the U. S. Weather Bureau.  In March, 1985, the new terminal, parking lot, and roadway system were completed.  Another significant milestone was reached in 2001 with the opening of two state-of-the-art concourses, new concessions, and art gallery.  Since that time a number of renovation and expansion projects have impacted the airport property.

Seven townships in Rock Island County provide financial support to the airport.  They include Hampton, Moline, South Moline, Rock Island, South Rock Island, Blackhawk, and Coal Valley.  In addition, a number of airlines, car rental organizations, parking lot patrons, and others support MAA and airport operations as well.   Federal and state dollars are also used to support special projects, particularly those related to the airfield.  Growth resulted in construction of a new public parking lot in 1998.  An $18 million terminal expansion project followed shortly thereafter to bring the size of the terminal complex to nearly 160,000 square feet on the 2,021-acre campus.  This project, completed in 2001, resulted in the construction of two new concourses as well as remodeled space for the new gift shop tenant, new restaurant tenant, and an art gallery.

Nearly $100 million in assets are owned and operated by the Metropolitan Airport Authority.  Some of those assets are in the form of buildings that serve a variety of needs on airport property.  An air freight complex opened in 1992.  Additionally, various hangars for private and corporate aircraft along with an industrial park are on the south side of the property.  The longest runway extends just over 10,000 feet, and improvement projects are continuously underway to further enhance safety and efficiency for aircraft at the Quad City International Airport.  Our public parking area can accommodate almost 2,000 vehicles at any given time.

In fiscal 2003 over 400,000 travelers boarded planes, the first year to surpass that milestone.  With this growth came change as the Airport Authority Board of Commissioners authorized the creation of a wholly owned subsidiary, QCIA Airport Services, LLC to begin business November 1, 2003.  This organization provides fueling, ground handling and other services to commercial and charter airlines.

aerial 1939
Aerial 1939

Cross County Inn

Terminal 1939
Terminal 1939


Click Here for information about a Historical Photo Book, "Images of Aviation" by David T. Coopman