The City of Nelson attracted pilots and their aircraft as early as 1912. On September 24, 1912, Walter Edwards flew his 60 hp Curtiss Pusher from the ballpark on the Civic Centre grounds. Edwards' airplane arrived in Nelson from eastern Canada by rail to the south end of Kootenay Lake, then was loaded onto a sternwheeler steamboat and shipped sixty miles to Nelson.

In 1914 another aircraft attracted attention at Nelson: a Curtiss "Hydro-Aero” plane that took off from the water. In 1928 Capt. E. C. (Ted) Dobbin was hired by the B C Forest Branch in Nelson and flew a Gypsy Moth floatplane for forest fire patrol. This phase of aviation has been carried on during summer months in Nelson ever since.

Some far-sighted citizens and councils back in the 1930s began construction of a landfill from garbage, dirt and rock, which marked the beginning of the Nelson airstrip. In August 1947 an aircraft landed on a 600-foot roadway leading to an incinerator near the present airport. This prompted local air-minded enthusiasts to forge ahead with plans for a permanent airfield. On September 30, 1971, a 2,300-by-75-foot paved runway was licensed, and later a 500-foot extension was added. This present runway was built and paved through grants from federal funds and under the supervision of Ministry of Transport officials.

The mandatory frequency is 123.2 and the runway elevation is 535 metres (1,755 feet). Right-hand circuit for runway 022.

Castlegar Airport is the nearest commercial flight facility with services from Air Canada.

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