Origins of the Patterson Airport

Stop 2 of 6 in the Wedell-Williams Airport in Patterson tour

After the formation of the Wedell-Williams Air Service, Harry Williams established a base of operations on what was once Calumet Plantation by clearing a sugarcane field. This airport offered hangars and a grass landing field, but it also featured the facilities for building Wedell’s famous racing planes. Though none of the original buildings exist today, some of the present buildings occupy, more or less, the same places as the originals.

Building the hangars and planes provided some construction work for the locals, thus strengthening the economy. As seen in Patterson, other towns throughout the United States built airports to attract business and visitors.

The Wedell-Williams Airport in Patterson exemplifies other rural airports built during the Golden Age of Aviation. They typically had few buildings and a turf runway, but little else was necessary for an airport. Though the accommodations may seem paltry, the airport was still equipped to accept chartered, cargo, and passenger flights.


Wedell-Williams Airport in Patterson, 1931

Wedell-Williams Airport in Patterson, 1931

The lettering on the roof of one of the hangars allowed pilots to easily identify the airport. Image Courtesy of the E.F. Newman Collection, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans View File Details Page

Original Buildings of the Wedell-Williams Airport in Patterson

Original Buildings of the Wedell-Williams Airport in Patterson

Buildings such as these were typical of rural airports in the late 1920s and early 1930s; these facilities provided the environment for the construction of racing planes, including the We-Will and the #44. Image Courtesy of the Wedell-Williams Memorial Foundation and the Louisiana State Museum View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Teresa M. Thessen, “Origins of the Patterson Airport,” New Orleans Historical, accessed July 22, 2017,


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