The Chennault Airfield, Conroe’s new airport and flight school, held a grand opening Nov. 16. The new aviation facility is planned to be the hub for aviation training in the north Houston metro area, according to the facility’s officials at the event.

The background

The property was previously a private airport named Cut and Shoot Airport, owned by the Schank family, according to officials. It served as a crop duster dirt airstrip in the 1970s but had been abandoned for several decades.

The new facility is named after Lt. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault who was a military leader known for his expertise in aerial combat during World War II. He led the "Flying Tigers," the first American volunteer group created to assist China against Japan's invasion in 1941-42. Chennault made contributions to aviation and military tactics, said his granddaughter Nell Chennault Calloway, CEO of the Chennault Museum in Monroe, Louisiana, at the event.

Aaron Wang, president and CEO of the Chennault Aviation Academy, bought the land in 2022 and started construction in April, officials said. He said at the event that, as Chinese American, he was inspired by Chennault’s legacy. Calloway gave Wang permission to name the facility after Chennault.

The details

The Chennault Airfield, located at 15900 Schank Road, Conroe, completed its first phase of development as of the opening and consists of a 3,100-foot by 70-foot runway with one hangar, where the Chennault Aviation Academy is located.

The aviation school relocated from the Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport in Conroe to the new airfield, and there are 90-100 students enrolled in classes.

The facility commenced flight operations and classes Nov. 15, officials said.

A date for the second phase, involving the construction of additional hangars for rent, has not been set yet, officials said.

What they’re saying

Mo Rolfs, chief operating officer and chief instructor at Chennault Aviation Academy, explained the airfield was created with a smaller runway to support smaller aircraft that are being pushed out of larger, crowded airports nearby, such as the Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport in Conroe and David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport in Spring.

Both are public-use airports, and officials said they aim for Chennault Airfield to be a private airport, putting focus on the aviation academy.