Orcas Island Airport

For early San Juan Islanders, living on an island meant limited access to mainland services and necessities. The advent of air transit made travel quick and sometimes life-saving.

No story of the islands’ aviation history would be complete without mention of Roy Franklin. Originally a military pilot, Roy returned to Washington State after serving in WWII and soon became an air taxi pilot operating in San Juan County. His taxi service operated day and night for 32 years in often challenging conditions. The flying skills Roy learned during WWII certainly came in handy in the San Juan Islands. Besides the unpredictable weather, he frequently had to resort to landing in pastures and by the light of car headlights because there were so few landing strips on the islands. None of these obstacles prevented Roy from providing much needed air service for freight, mail, and, most importantly, passengers. It is said that many an islander owed their life to Roy’s business for its numerous medical evacuation flights over the years.

As the need grew for air transit in the islands, airstrips and airports began popping up to fill this need. Orcas Island resident Harold Ferris, a ship captain and owner of the Kangaroo House, built the first airstrip on Orcas Island. Later, this airstrip grew into the Orcas Island Airport. Today the Orcas Island Airport carries on the legacy of air transit on Orcas Island with daily flights and other aviation services.



Doris Boyer Recalls First Airstrip
Creator: Orcas Island Historical Museums, editing by Clairessa Walker
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