Coordinates: N39-05.06 ; W076-45.28
FME has two instrument approaches, no tower, but a Remote Communications Outlet (RCO) to BWI.
Mag. Variation: 10W - Field Elevation: 155' - Runway: 10/28 - 3,000' x 75'
Patterns: 1,000' MSL. Left Traffic - 28; Right Traffic - 10
Unicom: 123.05 - AWOS: 123.925 - Potomac Approach: 119.7 - Leesburg FSS: 1-866-225-7410
Lights: Low Intensity Runway Lighting System
Beacon: Sunset to Sunrise
Maintenance: Mechanic on-call
Office Hours: M-F 8:30 AM - 6:00 PM EST ---- Weekends
8:00 AM - 7:00 PM EST
A HISTORY OF TIPTON ARMY AIRFIELD
This is a story about the struggle to convert Tipton Army Airfield to Tipton Airport and turning the property over to Anne Arundel County, Maryland. General aviation pilots in the state of Maryland held their breath for five years while the bureaucrats struggled to make the property habitable for civilians.
It is with grateful appreciation that I acknowledge four sources without which I would have been unable to make this report about Tipton Airport. They are Michael A. Wassel, Manager, Tipton Airport and his very able Administrative Assistant, Karen Keagle, who provided the official army records about naming the airport for Colonel William D. Tipton. Charles W. Kirsch, Manager, Fort Meade Flying Club and Joe Susi, Chief Flight Instructor gave me historical data about Tipton Airport. Susi instructed for the Fort Meade Flying Club at Tipton when it was at the original location near the present Kimborough Army Hospital on Fort Meade. He has continued with the Club exclusively since those early days.
Many published references were available in the Annapolis Evening Capital newspaper giving accounts of the progress toward converting Tipton Army Airfield into the modern Tipton Airport operated by Anne Arundel County. Tipton Airport could easily become the first choice to serve the needs of Annapolis, the capitol of Maryland. Nearby Lee airport can not accommodate large twin-engine and turboprop aircraft needing to visit the state government. Lee's runway is too short and parking is very scarce. Tipton Airport has a 3000 feet by 75 feet runway and is served by a nearby four-lane highway. A trip by automobile to visit Annapolis by way of Maryland Highway 32 and Interstate 97 will encounter no traffic lights. Landing at Lee airport and driving to Annapolis is made difficult by all the twists and turns with many stops and starts.
Civilian aircraft always operated at Tipton Army Airfield, originally called Fort Meade Army Airfield, starting as early as 1957 when the paved runway was oriented northeast-southwest and crossed two roads, MacArthur Boulevard the northern end and Mapes Road at the southern end. Gates similar to railroad crossing barriers had to be lowered by the Control Tower for takeoff and landings. The U.S. Army donated five airplanes, two Piper Cubs and three Navions, to start the club, .
In 1961 Tipton Army Airfield opened at its present location. The runway was built down the center of a closed landfill on the south side of Fort George G. Meade. The Fort Meade Flying Club brought its airplanes here and located their trailer office near the control tower at the western end of the airfield.
The new airfield was named Tipton Army Airfield in memory of Colonel William D. Tipton, of Baltimore, Maryland, Colonel Tipton was a Cadet in the Air Service Reserve, Ohio State University and Oxford University, England From June 1917 to March 1918, then served as a Pursuit Pilot with the 17th Aero Squadron attached to the Royal Air Force in England and France from March 1918 to August 1918 when he became a Prisoner of War of the Government from August 1918 until December 1918. He served in the National Guard and Reserves from January 1917 to February 1941 when began active service in military aviation in various positions as Base Commander Liaison Officer to the OSS in Washington, DC., until his death in an aircraft accident in December 1945. He was award the British Distinguished Flying Cross and wore the Command Pilot wings.
April 1962, on DD Form 96, File no. AIBMBA, Subject: Designation of Army Airfield, the Fort Meade Post Commander re-designated Fort George G. Meade Army Airfield as Tipton Army Airfield. The memorandum was addressed to Major James H. Miller, Airfield Commander.
April 9, 1962 in a letter from Colonel Phillip H. Pope, Commander Fort Meade to Mrs. Elizabeth B. Tipton, 711 Chumleigh Road, Baltimore, Maryland he announced the designation of Tipton Army Airfield and enclosed photographs of the airfield along with the General Order announcing the designation.
June 4, 1962 in a letter from Colonel Phillip H. Pope, Commander Fort Meade to Senator John Marshall Butler, Washington, DC, he announced the designation of Tipton Army Airfield and enclosed photographs, saying similar packages had been sent to Mrs. Tipton, Governor Tawes, General Reckord who recommended Colonel Tipton=s name and to Mr. Elmer M. Jackson, Jr.
June 11, 1962 in a letter from Governor J. Millard Tawes to Colonel Pope he thanked him for the letter of June 4 and the photographs, saying Colonel Tipton was an outstanding Maryland aviator who contributed much to Army Aviation and the Maryland National Guard, and that he was extremely pleased that the airfield had been named in his honor.
September 14, 1962 in a letter from Mrs. William D. Tipton, Apt. 165 7711 Greenview Terrace, Towson, Maryland, to Colonel Phillip H. Pope, Headquarters Fort Meade, she thanked him for the photographs and said Colonel Tipton=s sister had been a set for the Tipton family.
Before Tipton Army Airfield could be converted to civilian use under Public Law 100-526, the Base Realignment and Closure Act, environmental cleanup of the area had to be accomplished.
When Tipton Army Airfield was closed in 1995, the Fort Meade Flying Club moved to Lee airport.
February 15, 1995, Mr. Sam Minnitte, Project Manager, Anne Arundel County Land Use and Environmental Office, presented a feasibility study that reported estimates to convert the airfield to civilian use. $14,945,000 would be needed to develop Tipton Airport, $7,495,200 was available in FAA funds and $416,000 from the state of Maryland.
April 5, 1995 John W. Lucas was appointed Airport Manger of Tipton Airport. He had been Manager of the airport at Westminster, Maryland.
September 14, 1995 Tipton Airport opening was delayed because of unexploded ordnance needing to be removed.
November 15, 1995 because of delay in removing unexploded ordnance, the one-year contract with Airport Manager John W. Lucas was terminated early.
December 20, 1995 fourteen percent of the unexploded ordnance had been removed and the county was delaying signing a lease until the cleanup was completed.
January 31, 1996 removing unexploded ordnance was delayed by weather. Work was scheduled to resume in March.
April 6, 1997 the Maryland Legislature created Tipton Airport Authority to own and operate Tipton Airport.
In 1997 the Fourth Circuit of Appeals ruled in favor of the U.S. Army and Fort Meade Flying Club was denied permission to relocate back to Tipton Airport.
January 20, 1999 Tipton Airport opening delayed due to condition of buildings.
May 27, 1999 lease agreement completed between Anne Arundel County and the U.S. Army.
June 1999 Tipton Airport environmental cleanup was completed. Drums of hazardous waste had been removed. An acid pit was cleaned out. More than 3,000 items of ordnance and heavy guns were disposed of, plus 800 tons of scrap metal.
August 13, 1999 Michael A. Wassel was appointed Airport Manager at Tipton Airport. He had worked more than eleven years as Deputy Manager of Airport Administration at Ronald Reagan National Airport, Washington, DC.
October 27, 1999 a formal dedication was scheduled for Tipton Airport.
November 1, 1999 was the Grand Opening of Tipton Airport.
May 13, 2000 there was a open house for the public to come and see the new Tipton Airport which was fully operational.
These things take time. Three levels of government had rules and regulations that had to be followed. The U.S. Army and the Environmental Protection Agency at the national level responsible for the property and cleaning it up before relinquishing control to Anne Arundel County. The state of Maryland created the Tipton Airport Authority to own and operate the airport. And the level of government right down next to the runway was Anne Arundel County who is responsible to operate the airport. The next step for the County was to appoint an Airport Manager whose duty it is to provide service to the public.
This new airport will relieve nearby BWI of small aircraft traffic and attract aviation interests from other airports in Maryland.
Keeping the runway at its present 3000 feet length will dissuade jet aircraft from using the facility. Making the runway any longer could bring on a new set of problems. Negotiations would be necessary for land use and airspace.
Tipton Airport will serve Anne Arundel County just fine as a small airport with a lot of hangers and parking space for single-engine and light twin airplanes.