Hartford–Brainard Airport (IATA: HFD, ICAO: KHFD, FAA LID: HFD) is a towered public airport three miles (5 km) southeast of downtown Hartford, in Hartford County, Connecticut. It is owned by the Connecticut Airport Authority. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2017–2021 categorized it as a regional reliever airport facility.
|Owner||Connecticut Airport Authority|
|Elevation AMSL||18 ft / 5 m|
The airport is named after former mayor Newton C. Brainard.
Originally called Brainard Field when it opened in 1921, Hartford–Brainard Airport may well be the country's first municipal airport. Located in a former cow pasture in the southeast Hartford Neighborhood of South Meadows, Brainard opened in 1921. Among the facility's claims to fame are visits by some of the early 20th century's greatest aviators — including Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh — who landed there to great acclaim. For its first decade, officials limited the airfield's use primarily to small passenger flights, but in 1933, city officials opened Brainard to commercial traffic. Passenger airlines, such as Eastern Airlines, and Colonial Airlines served Brainard. But the airport couldn't handle the large Douglas DC-3 and heavier planes that became common by the 1930s. The weight of the planes was too much for grass runways; later, the city would install a blacktop runway. Additionally, Brainard could not accommodate large aircraft because its runways are too short and the airport's proximity to Connecticut River also resulted in fog problems.
As a result, larger aviation began to move to the new Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks after it opened in 1952, and by 1958 all commercial carriers had relocated. No longer the principal airport for the Greater Hartford area, the Hartford city council voted for closure, though the next year in 1959 the state and the city entered into an agreement, transferring control of the airport to the state. A large runway was closed to support development of the South Meadows commercial and industrial district off Brainard Road, reducing the airport's size to 201 acres (81.3 ha).
In 1986, Brainard had nearly 25,000 more takeoffs and landings than Bradley, with 90 per hour during peak periods.
Closing Brainard was first proposed in 1950s and has remained a common political talking point in Hartford. In 1981, a proposal to close the airport was met with more opposition than support. In 1993, a proposal by then-governor of Connecticut Lowell Weicker to close Brainard and move operations to Rentschler Field in East Hartford was unsuccessful.
Following additional shelved proposals in 2006 and 2016, the Hartford City Council unanimously passed a non-binding resolution in August 2021 calling for Brainard to be decommissioned and redeveloped into a 201-acre housing, entertainment, retail, and commercial complex with a marina, similar to the 2016 proposal. A 30% decline in takeoffs and landings between 2010 and 2020, annual operating losses, and non-taxable property were cited by supporters of closure, while supporters of keeping the airport open pointed to a 2016 study that said the airport contributes more than 100 private-sector jobs to the region, serves as a public safety hub, and should be renovated and expanded. The Connecticut Airport Authority, which has final authority over the airport, says it has no plans to close.
- 2/20: 4,417 x 150 ft (1,346 x 46 m) Asphalt
- 11/29: 2,314 x 71 ft (705 x 22 m) Asphalt
- NE/SW: 2,309 x 150 ft (704 x 46 m) Turf (closed during winter months from November 2 to April 30 except for ski-equipped aircraft or helicopter training)
- Helipad H1: 70 x 77 ft (21 x 23 m) Asphalt
- Helipad H2: 44 x 44 ft (13 x 13 m) Asphalt
In the year ending June 12, 2001 the airport had 120,217 aircraft operations, average 329 per day: 99% general aviation, 1% air taxi and <1% military. 144 aircraft are based at this airport: 87% single-engine, 10% multi-engine, 1% jet aircraft, 1% helicopters and 1% gliders.
- FAA Airport Form 5010 for HFD PDF, effective 2007-07-05
- "List of NPIAS Airports" (PDF). FAA.gov. Federal Aviation Administration. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
- Thornton, Steve. ""Something to Show for Our Work": Building Brainard Airport". ConnecticutHistory.org. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
- Neyer, Constance (19 July 1999). "Air Show to Honor Brainard Airport's 75 Years". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
- "City Airport Even Busier Than Bradley". Hartford Courant. Hartford, Connecticut. 18 August 1986. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
- Haar, Dan (6 December 2016). "Dan Haar: Brainard Airport Fights Back As Redevelopment Plan Returns". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
- Gosselin, Kenneth R. (23 August 2021). "As pressure grows to close Hartford-Brainard Airport, sides in debate see different path to economic development for the century-old airfield". Hartford Courant. Hartford, Connecticut. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
- "Airport Commission Plan Attacked As Unclear". Hartford Courant. Hartford, Connecticut. 27 February 1981. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
- "Where will the airport land?". Hartford Courant. Hartford, Connecticut. 4 April 1993. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
- Teehan, Sean (11 August 2021). "Hartford City Council votes to decommission Brainard Airport, but closure remains elusive". Hartford Business Journal. Hartford, Connecticut. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
- "State Report: Don't Close Brainard Airport, Expand It". Hartford Courant. Hartford, Connecticut. 8 December 2016. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
- http://www.ctwg.cap.gov/ct071.html Civil Air Patrol 071st
- Brainard Airport
- FAA Airport Diagram (PDF), effective September 9, 2021
- FAA Terminal Procedures for HFD, effective September 9, 2021
- Resources for this airport: