The Minden-Tahoe Airport (MEV), formerly the Douglas County Airport and Tahoe-Douglas Airport, got its start as the Carson Valley Airport in March of 1942 when U.S. Army Engineers surveyed the site for the Civil Aeronautics Authority. The Airport was one of 345 federally funded military bases and landing fields constructed in the USA between 1939 to late 1943.
The land was deeded to the County by the Dangberg family and Congress appropriated $417,000 for the project, and construction began in July 1942. Runway surfacing began in August 1942, and the field was operational by late October. The physical location of the field was based on staying relatively clear of the local marshlands in the area. To ensure adequate drainage of the field required placement of several deep and wide ditches adjacent to the runways.
As things turned out, the field was never developed as a military air base like Stead was at Reno. However, it was used to train US Army Air Corps pilots using flight training school groups under contract to the government. The training consisted of up to 150 students at a time in what was called secondary flight training; during which they stayed at the Minden Inn. Between September 1943 and January 1944, the Army Air Forces War Service Training Detachment operated a flight school at the Airport.
Glider pilots began flying out of MEV in 1964 and by 1969 the airfield was being used regularly as a glider “Wave Camp” with as many as 70 aero tows a day during the 2-3 week Spring and Fall wave sessions. Douglas County Airport was rapidly gaining a reputation of being one of the best locations in the USA for glider high altitude wave flights, long distance and speed record flight attempts. By 1977, two soaring fixed based operators had located on the field offering glider training, rental, aero-tows and support of soaring badge and record flight attempts. Today, Minden-Tahoe Airport remains a non-towered Airport and is home base to approximately 250 aircraft including 80 gliders. Annual aircraft movements are estimated at 70,000 with about 40 percent of these as glider/tow plane operations and motorgliders. From April to October many soaring pilot visitors base their gliders at MEV, so it is possible that during a summer day there can be as many as 100 glider related movements.
Douglas County’s initial obligation for the operation and maintenance of the Airport was under the AP-4 Resolution of the Development of Landing Areas National Defense Program. The AP-4 Resolution was adopted by the Douglas County Commissioners on 12 April 1943. Since the County remains a recipient of federal grant funds under the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) it is obligated, like any other Airport under grant fund assurances, to operate for the use and benefit of the public and to make it available to all types, kinds and classes of aeronautical transportation and activity.