The history of aviation in Orangeburg began in the 1930s.
In 1935, the city of Orangeburg purchased about 75 acres of land and built an airport that was dedicated in 1937 as Jennings Airport named after Orangeburg Mayor Robert H. Jennings Sr.
Previously, the airport was located where the Orangeburg Mall and Clark Middle School are today.
Shortly after the airport’s opening, Orangeburg jeweler Tom Summers founded the Breakfast Club for pilots throughout the state.
Hundreds of pilots would fly into Orangeburg from across South Carolina to enjoy breakfast and fellowship. It is considered to be the first pilots’ Breakfast Club in America, starting a national trend.
In 1944-1945, the Jennings Airport had more aircraft per capita than any other city in the world, according to a history of Orangeburg Municipal Airport written by one of its first fixed-base operators, T.C. Hadwin.
During World War II, Hawthorne Aviation operated an entry-level flying school only a mile or two south of the airport and used Jennings Field as a practice field.
In the 1950s, the name of Jennings Airport was changed to Orangeburg City and County Airport, but that name was changed to the current Orangeburg Municipal Airport in the 1980s.
Located at the entrance to the terminal is the “The Aviation Memorial and Pilot’s Walk.” The walk was designed, constructed and paid for by local pilots of the Orangeburg Pilots Association. It strives to display aviation history, and honors those associated with aviation.
Also featured at the airport is a memorial which has a time capsule inside and is capped with a granite stone outlined in the shape of South Carolina. The capsule will be opened on Dec. 17, 2053, the 150th anniversary of aviation. It contains clips and other memorabilia of the history of aviation.
The seating area at the facility features photos of those inducted into the South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame from Orangeburg County — Hadwin, Frank L. Culbertson Jr., T.S. Summers, Hiers Furtick and Carroll Joye.
Celebrities have also visited the airport including Oprah Winfrey, Gov. Nikki Haley and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In 2008, many of the presidential candidates visited for the Democratic presidential debate. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has also visited the airport.
The airport is currently owned and operated by the City of Orangeburg. It is located two miles south of downtown Orangeburg off the Highway 21 bypass (Joe Jeffords Highway).
The facility is the home base of a number of corporate and private aircraft.
Two runways, 17/35 (5,400 feet) and 5/23 (4,600 feet) serve both piston and jet aircraft. 100LL and Jet-A Fuel is available.
Satellite weather, wireless internet and use of a courtesy car are available to pilots at no cost.
Numerous improvements have been made to the airport facilities over the years, including new hangars, a new runway and runway lights.
Tours of the airport are done by appointment.
To schedule an appointment, call (803) 534-5545.
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