Museum

John Ratzenberger, Curator
email: museum@darenc.com

410 Airport Road
PO Box 429
Manteo NC 27954

Phone: 252.475.5575
Fax: 252.473.1196

Preserving Aviation History where Aviation Began


The Dare County Regional Airport Museum is located in the west end of the airport terminal building. Hours of operations are from 8:00 AM till 7:00 PM, 7 days a week.

During the late 1930's and early 1940's, Dare County was served by a small privately owned airport at Skyco on Roanoke Island. On March 1st, 1940, the Dare County Board of Commissioners appointed a committee to acquire property and begin planning for the construction of a publicly owned airport. Members of the committee included Martin Kellogg, John Ferebee and D. V. Meekins.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States Navy considered a Naval Auxiliary Air Station on Cape Hatteras. However, since airport construction had already began in Manteo, they chose Manteo as the new site.

On July 27, 1942, a mass flight of Civil Air Patrol aircraft left Charlotte, Asheville, Elkin and Winston Salem for Skyco Airport on Roanoke Island with direct orders not to land at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station under construction on the north end of the Island. The Civil Air Patrol operated Coastal Patrol Base 16 at Skyco until construction permitted them to use the new airport in the late fall of 1942. The Civil Air Patrol's primary task was anti-submarine patrol.

On March 3, 1943, Navy Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) Manteo was officially commissioned and started operations. The Civil Air Patrol and Navy shared the field and worked well together. NAAS Manteo was used for special training of squadrons. The most common airplanes used during this time were F4F Wildcats, F6F Hellcats, SB2C Helldivers, TBM and TBF Avengers, PBY Catalinas and F4U Corsairs.

In early April 1943, a squadron of F4U Corsairs came to NAAS Manteo. This squadron commanded by Lieutenant Commander Tom Blackburn proved to be the most famous Navy squadron of their time. One of Dare County's own Lt. Sheldon R. "Ray" Beacham of Kitty Hawk was a pilot with VF17. He was credited with their first victory.

On August 31, 1943, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard took over the anti-submarine patrols and the Civil Air Patrol Base 16 closed. The Navy continued special training of many different squadrons until the station was placed on caretaker status on December 15, 1945. In 1947, Dare County asked for the return of the airfield and their request was granted.