In 1910, an awestruck crowd at the Roanoke Fair got its first glimpse of powered flight when a Curtiss biplane soared overhead. Within the next decade, gliders were lifting off from hills in South Roanoke and cow pastures were being converted into airstrips. Once Roanoke Municipal Airport was developed in 1929, earlier local airfields such as Cook, Trout, and Horton Fields were rendered inactive. Then in 1941, when—with federal assistance— the municipal airport became Woodrum Field, the region's air travel transitioned into the modern era and brought services from major airlines to the area. Roanoke's aviation reputation continued to grow when the city played a critical role in military air travel and training during World War II, leading its airport to become one of the busiest on the East Coast. Aviation in Roanoke tells the stories of early airfields, the growth and transformation of Woodrum Field, and the adventures of Roanoke's aviation pioneers.
Marshall Harris and Nelson Harris culled archival photographs from private collections to capture Roanoke's aviation history. Marshall Harris is a commercial real estate agent who grew up near Woodrum Field, which his late father managed for 30 years. Nelson Harris, the former mayor of Roanoke, has written numerous articles and books on the region's history.