Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL), Lakeland, FL 33811
Nestled halfway between Tampa and Orlando, Lakeland Linder Regional Airport is Central Florida’s best-kept secret. Located 4 miles southwest of historic Downtown Lakeland, Lakeland Linder Regional Airport is an ideal choice for pilots and travelers. Both Disney World and Busch Gardens are less than 40 minutes away from the airport terminal while Cypress Gardens is only a 30-minute drive. And, it is less than an hour to the soft white sands of Florida’s Gulf Coast Beaches. In the heart of this prime tourism country, Lakeland Linder Airport is a superb, cost-effective alternative to larger airports in neighboring Tampa and Orlando.
Every year in April the airport is host to Sun ‘n Fun, a Fly-in and airshow of the Experimental Aircraft Association and the second largest such event in the United States after EAA’s “AirVenture” event at Oskosh, Wisconsin. The airport was initially constructed in the 1940s and served as Drane Field, an auxiliary military airfield to MacDill Field, now MacDill Air Force Base in nearby Tampa. The original airfield facility was comprised of three 5,000 foot runways and served as a training base for medium bombardment groups such as the 320th Bomb Group (now the 320th Air Expeditionary Wing) and the 344th Bomb Group (now the 126th Air Refueling Wing) flying the Martin B-26 Marauder. Fighter and air commando groups were also stationed at Drane Field flying a mix of fighter and transport aircraft. At the end of World War II, the airfield was closed as a military facility and was turned over to the City of Lakeland for redevelopment as a civilian airport.
During the 1970s, 80s and 90s, the airfield operated as a joint civil-military facility when it hosted Army Aviation Support Facility #2 of the Florida Army National Guard, operating since-retired UH-1 Huey helicopters, followed by locally-based UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and C-23 Sherpa cargo aircraft. In 2000, the Florida Army National Guard aviation units relocated to a new facility at Hernando County Airport in Brooksville.