| In 1938, the Board of Directors of the Texas A&M College authorized the development of an airport at the existing site. The University applied to the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) for certification as a primary flight training school under provisions of the Civilian Pilot Training Program. In 1940, the airport was formally named for Navy Lt. Jesse L. Easterwood. Easterwood was a former student of the College who enlisted in the Naval Air Service in 1917. After being commissioned as Ensign, he was later promoted to Lieutenant in the Naval Air Service and was the second American to qualify as Naval Aviation Pilot. He served with the Royal Flying Corps in 1918 and had to his credit sixteen successful raids behind German lines. He served in three foreign countries and was killed in an airplane accident in the Canal Zone May 19, 1919. He was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously “for distinguished and heroic service as an aviator.”
The original facility in 1940 consisted of one hangar and a turf landing strip and taxiway which were eventually paved through funding provided by the CAA, the Works Projects Administration (WPA), and Texas A&M. In 1948 a large hangar was relocated to the airfield from a US Army flying field near Corsicana, Texas. The FAA established a Flight Service Station (FSS) at the Airport in 1951 and Pioneer Airlines began scheduled air service in that same year. Many changes have occurred over the years including moving the Flight Service Station to Montgomery County and Continental Connection and American Eagle now provide scheduled air service.
The first control tower was erected at the Airport in 1952 and a commercial passenger terminal was constructed in 1957. Work began on an extension of Runway 16-34 to its present 7,001 foot length in 1984. At the same time the associated parallel taxiway to Runway 16-34 was also extended. In 1988, work began on improvements to the Airport access road and initial construction of a new passenger terminal began. The new McKenzie Terminal became operational in 1990. Upon completion of the McKenzie Terminal, plans were made to convert the old passenger terminal into a general aviation terminal to meet the needs of these passengers and pilots, including corporate operators that use the Airport. The old passenger facility was remodeled to meet the needs of this segment of the aviation community and re-opened for service in 1994 as a modern general aviation facility, housing line service and support personnel as well as flight operations.
The number of dignitaries and quality events supported by Easterwood far exceeds those of many airports much larger than Easterwood. The airport regularly supports dignitaries arriving for special events at the University or the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. The airport is only two minutes from the campus or library by motorcade. This proximity to the University makes it especially desirable for visitors. Some of the special activities and guests passing through Easterwood Airport have included:
- Bush Library Opening
Easterwood Airport parked almost 200 private and corporate aircraft on the day of the library opening, the largest number ever at the airport. Special guests attending the library opening that passed through the airport included then President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton, Former President Gerald Ford, Former First Ladies Nancy Reagan and Lady Bird Johnson, Former President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter, Governor and Mrs. George W. Bush, Dr. Billy Graham, and Mr. Newt Gingrich.
- Athletic Events
SEC collegiate athletic teams regularly fly into and out of Easterwood Airport, in charter aircraft ranging in size from a King Air to a Boeing 757.
- Former President Bush’s Parachute Jump
The airport served as the base for the former president’s parachute jump to celebrate his 75th birthday and his 80th birthday.
- Medical Flights
The airport routinely supplies fuel, flight planning, weather and various other needs for Life Flights, Angel Flights, and Military Medi-vac flights.
- Special Guests
Special guests that have been greeted at Easterwood Airport by the Ross Volunteers include:
- Governor George W. Bush
- First Lady Laura Bush
- Former President and Mrs. George Bush
- Prime Minister Tony Blair
- Former Prime Minister John Majors
- Jorge F. Quiroga Ramirez, President of the Republic of Bolivia
- National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice
- King Mohammed VI of Morocco
- General Norman Schwarztkopf
- Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev
- Governor Rick Perry
- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell
- Reverend Franklin Graham
- Bill Cosby and Jeff Foxworthy, entertainers for First Yell