Washington-Hoover Airport was an airport serving the city of Washington, D.C., in the United States from 1933 to 1941. It was created by the merger of Hoover Field and Washington Airport on August 2, 1933. It was in Arlington, Virginia, near the intersection of the Highway Bridge and the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway (where The Pentagon and its parking lots now stand). Washington-Hoover Airport, like its predecessors, suffered from safety problems, short runways, and little room to grow. It closed for public use in June 1941, and the United States Department of War purchased the site in September, closing it for good. Washington National Airport (now known as Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport), which opened in June 1941, was built as its replacement. The Pentagon now occupies the site.
Hoover Field was built in 1925 by Thomas E. Mitten, president of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company. It was constructed on Hell’s Bottom, a 37.5 acres (15.2 ha) site at the foot of the Highway Bridge in Arlington County, Virginia (formerly a horse racing track) directly across the Potomac River from the city. The single sodrunway was 2,400 feet (730 m) long. A single hangar, 60 feet (18 m) by 100 feet (30 m) in size, was constructed. The field was expanded, and the “new” airfield dedicated on July 16, 1926. It was named for then-Secretary of CommerceHerbert Hoover, a major promoter of civil aviation.
Hoover Field suffered from significant safety problems. Arlington Beach, a local amusement park, was northeast of the airport next to the Highway Bridge, and a landfill stood on the north-northwestern edge of the field. The trash in the landfill was also on fire. The smoke sometimes obscured the landing field. The United States Department of Agriculture owned the 400 acres (160 ha) Arlington Experimental Farm immediately adjacent to the northeastern end of the runway. A public swimming pool was located at the airport, and local children would cross the runway to get to it. Safety conditions at the airport were so poor due to these and other obstructions that local businesses and city officials began calling for the construction of a city-owned airport in a safer location just three months after Hoover Field opened.
In February 1927, a group of aviators and aviation companies, led by aviation pioneer Henry Berliner, called for the establishment of a new, larger airport to be built on vacant land across Military Road (the southern boundary of Hoover Field). This plan was not immediately acted on however. In June, Berliner began leasing Hoover Field, and soon took a majority financial interest in the airport. A fire at the field on July 3, 1928, destroyed eight planes and a hangar, causing $100,000 in damages ($1.275 million in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars). Berliner’s finances were significantly damaged by the fire, and he sold his interest in Hoover Field to E.W. Robertson’s Mount Vernon Airways on July 20, 1928. By November 1928, a Canadian company, International Airways, had taken over control of the airfield from Mount Vernon Airways.
In early 1929, a new holding company, Atlantic Seaboard Airways, was created by the owners of nearby Washington Airport and took over International Airways and its subsidiary aviation businesses. For a few months, both fields were owned by the same investors (although they never merged operations). On December 30, 1929, a group of investors led by R.H. Reiffen, chairman of the New Standard Aircraft Company, seized control of Atlantic Seaboard Airways and Hoover Field.
Safety at the airfield improved somewhat in mid-1932, after Arlington County commissioners revoked permits for the burning of trash at all landfills in the county—including the one next to Hoover Field, but not the one next to Washington Airport.