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The former Richards-Gebaur AFB about 2003

Richards-Gebaur Memorial Airport is a former airport that operated alongside Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base until the base's closure in 1994, and until it was closed in 1999. Formerly, it was operated as Grandview Airport from 1941 until it was purchased by the United States Army in 1944.

HistoryEdit

The City of Kansas City built Grandview Airport (IATA code GVW) in 1941. During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces I Troop Carrier Command built a facility on part of the airfield in 1944 which was used as a sub-base for Sedalia AAF (later Whiteman Air Force Base) for overflow traffic and training uses. The United States Navy also used the airport as an Outlying Landing Field (OLF) to Naval Air Station Olathe, Kansas where aviators were trained for carrier operations.[1]

The main USAAF unit at Grandview Airport was the 813th AAF Base Unit. After the war, the AAF facility was turned over to Continental Air Forces with C-46 Commandos occasionally using the field until it was closed in November 1945. The airfield was declared surplus on 13 December 1945 and was transferred to Army Division Engineers on 1 March 1946 for disposal.[1]

After a Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) memo in the early 1960s declared that the city's Kansas City Downtown Airport was the most unsafe major airport in the country, the city considered relocating its main airport to Richards-Gebaur. However, the city government ended up relocating the facility north of the city at Kansas City International Airport.[1]

Between 1983 and 1997 the city of Kansas City lost $18 million operating Richards-Gebaur Memorial Airport and in 1998, the Federal Aviation Authority approved a plan to close the airport. In 2001 the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision to close the airport in a suit brought by Friends of Richards-Gebaur Airport of Grandview, Missouri.[1]

The former airport is now used as the Kansas City SmartPort for Kansas City Southern Railroad to ship cargo to and from Mexico. Several businesses, in major agreement with the City of Kansas City and the State of Missouri, are removing the old runway and facilities and building a large truck-to-rail freight center, with above-ground and underground storage. The CenterPoint-Kansas City Southern Intermodal Center will cover 1,340 acres (5.4 km2) of rail and industrial space. Phase I of the project will include 4,500,000 square feet (420,000 m2) of covered industrial warehouses and distribution centers. Developer CenterPoint Properties of Chicago bought the property from the Port Authority of Kansas City, which still owns 100 acres (0.40 km2) and with Hunt Midwest Enterprises, Inc., will mine limestone and create underground storage spaces. Major transportation companies include Kansas City Southern railway and Schneider National, Inc., a truck line. Kansas City Southern's main line runs from the intermodal center at Richards-Gebaur all the way to a deep-sea Pacific port at Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico. The first phase is expected to cost $250M and when complete will be able to handle up to 250,000 shipping containers per year.[2]

ReferencesEdit

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