In 1927, city officials learned that Winston-Salem was a scheduled stop for Charles Lindbergh and the “Spirit of St. Louis” during a cross-country tour to celebrate advances in aviation. Although there was an existing grass strip airfield within Winston-Salem
(Winston-Salem Page) at the time, officials felt that an improved airfield would be better suited to accommodate the greatest aviator of the time. As such, a portion of land located approximately 4 miles north of downtown Winston-Salem was identified as an ideal site for a paved airport facility. A contribution of $17,000 was made by Clint Miller to develop the new airport; as a result, the airport corporation named the new airport Miller Municipal Airport. From 1927 to 1933 Reynolds Aviation, one of the airport’s most active users, provided commuter flights to New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Baltimore with weekend taxi service to Wrightsville and Myrtle Beaches.
In 1933, The New Deal developed a program known as the Civil Works Administration. This administration began extending each runway by 500 feet, added concrete floors to hangars, and relocated the airfield lighting system. Additional projects that occurred during the 1930’s included a new administration building, a third runway, and a new airfield lighting system. By 1938, additional property was acquired and a new fourth runway was constructed. In 1940, Eastern Airlines agreed to add Winston-Salem to its North-South route. In support of Eastern’s action, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation donated funds to further modernize and expand the airport for additional commercial service. In 1942, Miller Municipal Airport was renamed the Smith Reynolds Airport in honor of the foundation responsible for its many contributions.
From 1942 through 1945, the airport served as a training base for military pilots but continued its commercial and private airline service. In 1947, the Civil Aeronautics Board awarded Piedmont Aviation a temporary certificate for regional air service of four feeder line routes with DC-3 aircraft. The routes extended from Wilmington, North Carolina to Cincinnati, Ohio and serviced twenty-two additional airports throughout the U.S. In 1949, the Forsyth County Airport Commission (Commissioners page) was established to oversee the daily operation and development of the airport. During the span of 1957 through 1960, a fire station and ATCT were constructed, an approach lighting system was installed, and the terminal building was further expanded.
By 1963, the airport witnessed a resounding 129,313 annual operations which made Smith Reynolds the most active airport within the state and the 85th most active in the entire country. During the late sixties and early seventies, the airport experienced steady regional airline service and witnessed flourishing general aviation activity. From 1978 to 1992, the Airport Commission of Forsyth County continued to maintain and improve its facilities by completing several projects such as: new fencing, terminal improvements, and pavement strengthening.
During the 1990s, commercial enplanements continued to decline from 23,000 in 1990 to 7,000 in 1999. In the year 2000, USAir, the airport’s only remaining commercial carrier, terminated service at INT. Since the completion of the 1995 master plan, the ACFC has orchestrated several projects to improve and expand the airport. One notable project includes the construction of a general aviation tie-down apron (south apron) which is located west of Runway 15/33 approximately midpoint of Runway 15/33. The apron has an attached automobile parking area located to the west that was constructed for use by travelers. Another notable project includes the recent overlay of Runway 15/33 which occurred in 2008. In 2010, the airport finished constructing an Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) near the approach end of Runway 33 to allow the runway to comply with FAA safety standards.