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Will Rogers World Airport

Will Rogers World Airport , also known as Will Rogers Airport or simply Will Rogers, is located in southwestern Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 6 miles (8 km) from downtown and is the principal commercial airport of the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area. The local airport authority, citizens, and news organizations commonly refer to the airport as "WRWA", yet the official industry designations are "OKC" and "KOKC".

The airport is named in honor of comedian and legendary cowboy Will Rogers, an Oklahoma native, and holds the distinction of being named after a person who died in an airplane crash (as does the city's other major airport, Wiley Post Airport - both men died in the same crash). Will Rogers World Airport is unusual in that it is the only airport to use the designation "World," and that its name makes no reference to its city location. Although it offers some customs and immigration services, it has no international destinations.

In 2011, over 3.56 million passengers passed through Will Rogers World Airport, up 2.75% over 2010.[1] It is Oklahoma's busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic and its busiest cargo airport in terms of pounds of cargo carried, with over 68.5 million pounds of cargo carried in 2010.[1]



During World War II, Will Rogers Field was a major training facility for the United States Army Air Forces. Many fighter and bomber units were activated and received their initial training there.

Known USAAF groups stationed at Will Rogers Field were:

After completion of their initial training, these units were reassigned to other airfields for secondary training prior to their deployment overseas.

By the late 1990s, the 1960s-era terminal building was deemed unsuitable by the Oklahoma City Airport Trust. Following the adoption of a three phase master plan, preparations for renovating the airport were launched in 2001. The old twin concourses (visible in the 1995 photograph) were demolished to make way for a larger, expanded terminal with integrated concourses, high ceilings, and modern facilities.

Great Plains Airlines, a regional airline based in Tulsa, made Will Rogers World Airport a hub in 2001, operating non-stop flights to Washington-Dulles and St. Louis, among other destinations. The airline ultimately desired access to other east and west coast markets, but financial problems forced it to declare bankruptcy and cease operations in 2004.

The airport constructed a new parking garage which increased capacity by a reported 40% due to increased passenger demand. Currently there are roughly 5,500 parking spaces at the airport.

A $110 million multi-phase expansion and renovation project, designed by Atkins Benham Inc. and Gensler[2], began in 2001[3]. Phase-I involved erection of construction walkways from the five-storey parking garage to the terminal building, demolition of the terminal's existing elevator core, construction of new elevator and escalator cores on the tunnel level and on level one, building temporary entrance and exit ramps for vehicles approaching and leaving the terminal, reconstruction of the roofs of the lower level and level one, finishing the elevator and escalator cores to level two, building new permanent entry and exit ramps for vehicles and construction of a new transportation plaza and driving lanes[3]. Phase-II included a new concourse was constructed to the west of the central terminal area, which was renovated to match the interior and exterior designs of the new concourse. The 1960s-built concourses were then demolished after the new concourse opened in 2005. The entire phase was completed in November of 2006.[3] Phase-III project exists which calls for the construction of a new concourse to the east, with at least eight additional gates as well as expanded retail, restaurant, and baggage areas. As of August 2009, this phase is on hold due to the downturn in the aviation industry and the resulting decrease in passenger demand.[4]


Will Rogers World Airport has one terminal with 17 gates via the West Concourse (Gates 1-12) and Central Concourse (Gates 14-24). Gates on the south side of the building use even numbers while those on the north side use odd numbers. Hence, many odd-numbered gates are "left out" due to the terminal layout.

The architecture of the building uses native stone along with loft-ceilings, plate glass and brushed metal. Compared to the old concourses, the improvements provided a more open feel to the terminal waiting areas, similar to larger hub airports without being quite so large in scale.

Will Rogers World Airport officials approved a contract with Frankfurt Short Bruza Associates, P.C. in 2008 to begin planning for expanding the airport.[5] However, officials were forced to postpone the expansion plan because of the industry-wide decline in passenger traffic. If completed, the existing terminal building would be expanded to the east and a new passenger concourse (the "International Concourse") with nine gates would be added, increasing the number of boarding gates to 26. The new facility would have immigration and customs on the lower level, and would serve international flights.

Terminal amenities

Store Type Location
Neighbor's Coffee Caf Coffee Shop East side of Ticket Lobby
CNBC News Express OKC News/Retail West side of Ticket Lobby
Pop's Retail Gate 20
Sonic Restaurant Central Concourse Food-Court
Moe's Southwest Grill Restaurant Central Concourse Food-Court
The Salt Lick BBQ Restaurant Central Concourse Food-Court
Schlotzsky's Restaurant Central Concourse Food-Court
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Coffee/Tea Shop Central Concourse Food-Court
Bar 1907 Bar Central Concourse Food-Court
CNBC News Oklahoma City News/Retail Gate 14
EA Sports Retail Gate 14
Bricktown Square Retail West Concourse Between Gates 5, 9
Pop's Retail West Concourse Between Gates 5, 9
Brighton Collectibles Retail West Concourse Between Gates 5, 9
InMotion Entertainment Retail West Concourse Between Gates 5, 9
Redbud Bar Bar West Concourse Food-Court
Route 66 Grille Restaurant West Concourse Food-Court
Java Dave's Coffee Coffee Shop West Concourse Food-Court

Airlines and destinations

Will Rogers World Airport provides the Oklahoma City area with over 75 scheduled departures a day, with non-stop service to 21 airports. Many of the flights continue as direct service to other major U.S. markets and international destinations.

A Delta Air Lines MD-88 at Will Rogers Airport A 'Shuttle by United Airlines' Boeing 737-500 at Gate 5

Busiest Domestic Routes from Oklahoma City (March 2011 - February 2012)[6]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Dallas, Texas (DFW) 290,000 American
2 Denver, Colorado 265,000 Frontier, Southwest, United
3 Houston, Texas (IAH) 133,000 United
4 Chicago, Illinois 132,000 American, United
5 Atlanta, Georgia 130,000 Delta
6 Houston, Texas (HOU) 116,000 Southwest
7 Dallas, Texas (DAL) 92,000 Southwest
8 Las Vegas, Nevada 79,000 Southwest
9 Phoenix, Arizona 67,000 Southwest
10 St. Louis, Missouri 53,000 Southwest

Cargo airlines

Various FAR Part 135 Operators (Charter, Nonscheduled Service) operate in and out of the airport, such as small cargo feeder airlines operating small propeller aircraft. As well as larger charter companies doing military charters, vacations, etc.

Regular commercial traffic

Accidents and incidents

A Rockwell Sabreliner, registration N5565 crashed on January 15, 1974 after descending below minimums on an ILS approach in low clouds and fog.


Taxi and shuttle service is offered by a number of companies to downtown Oklahoma City. Greyhound and other intercity scheduled and charter bus companies provide service to the airport but this usually must be pre-arranged.

As for public transit, Metro Transit (Oklahoma City) has a route (METRO route 11) to/from the airport. However, this service operates only 3 times per day during non-peak times

Numerous hotels have the typical shuttle service to the airport and there are a number of car hire options available, most of which have on-site terminal facilities and business priority (frequent customer) loyalty options.

The Airport began a $3.8 million maintenance project in September 2011 to rehabilitate and repair two of its three parking garages. The project will make improvements to garages A and B, two of the six parking options at the airport. Garage A is the two-story garage that provides hourly parking for the airport s short-term visitors on the upper level, and ready-return spaces for the rental car agencies on the lower level. Parking Garage B, adjacent to A, is the older of the two, five-level parking structures that provides covered parking for air travelers. Garage C, the new parking garage which opened in 2009, will not be impacted. Nearing middle age, (Garage A is 44 years old and Garage B is 31 years old,) the structures will undergo several different types of refurbishments that will extend the long-term use of the facilities. The work will include:

  • Repair of concrete walls and pillars, specifically where there are cracks or spalling (chips of concrete that have broken off) and other deterioration
  • Replacement or repair of exterior stairs
  • Replacement and upgrade of all lighting circuits
  • Replacement and upgrade of all lighting fixtures
  • The top levels of each garage will receive new expansion joints, membrane coating, waterproofing and protectant to prevent leaking

The project will be divided into 12 sequences allowing the airport to keep as much of the garage open as possible. Most of the sequences will only require closing about 300 spaces at a time, leaving approximately 2,500 of the 2,800 total spaces in the two garages available for parking. The project work will start in the five-level Garage B on levels one and two. The entire project is anticipated to take 18 months. The most challenging portion of the project will be when the work commences on the two-story parking garage. During this sequencing, hourly parking and rental car companies will be moved to temporary locations in Garage B and C.

Other facilities

The Federal Bureau of Prisons Federal Transfer Center, Oklahoma City is located on the airport's western edge.[7]

Until 2007, the Oklahoma Air National Guard's 137th Airlift Wing and its C-130 Hercules aircraft were located at the airport's air national guard base. In 2007, the Air National Guard facility was closed pursuant to BRAC action and the unit relocated to nearby Tinker Air Force Base, where it transitioned to the KC-135 Stratotanker and was renamed the 137th Air Refueling Wing.[8]

Key airport management

  • Mark Kranenburg, A.A.E. - Director of Airports
  • Scott Keith - Assistant Director of Airports
  • Karen Carney - Marketing Coordinator
  • Cheryl Pierce - Business Manager
  • Jim Thrash - Operations Manager
  • Tim Whitman - General Aviation Manager
  • Phillip Florey - Maintenance Manager
  • Donald Jones - Facilities Planner
  • Larry Kettler - TSA Federal Security Director
  • Kim Wagner - TSA Customer Service Manager
  • Larry McAtee - Chairman Oklahoma City Airport Trust

Other notables

Will Rogers World Airport is used by military flights of the Oklahoma Air National Guard as well as air taxi and corporate service, although most of these flights utilize the Wiley Post Airport, Oklahoma City's FAA-designated reliever facility.

U.S. Government

Private industry

  • AAR Oklahoma has a major MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) facility and regional headquarters at Will Rogers World Airport; in addition there are other aircraft maintenance and AOG (aircraft on ground) organizations based there.
  • Atlantic Aviation has a Fixed Base Operation located on the East Side of the airport, off of Taxiway H. This is Atlantic's first Greenfield project.
  • Will Rogers World Airport is home to one of Southwest Airlines largest Reservation and Customer Care Centers.
  • Partnering with Tinker AFB in presenting the annual Aerospace America airshow.
  • ARINC has major facilities on the airport premises, including plans to double the size of their current facility.[9]


Will Rogers World Airport is home to Metro Technology Center's Aviation Career Campus. The Aviation center offers training to prepare aircraft maintenance technicians with Classrooms, practical labs, and separate airframe and powerplant hangars are available for academic and hands-on training. The Aviation Maintenance Technician program is an 18-month course that is certified and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. The facility is on the west side of the airport, north of the FAA center.


  • Will Rogers World Airport permanently hosts the Ninety Nines Museum of Women Pilots. The facility is located on more than , occupying the entire second floor of the International Headquarters building. It features a repository for a unique collection of the papers, personal items and other historic artifacts of some of the most significant achievements and adventures of the international community of women pilots. Its library and exhibit areas will provide new insights into the role women pilots played in the development of aviation.

See also


External links

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