Questions, Anyone?

Airport history

Q. Reader Jim Stewart and his fellow coffee drinkers have questions about the Alpena airport. They ask about the history of the airport and how long it’s been associated with the military.

A. The following answer is a summary of information in the U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet and in Robert Haltiner’s “The Town That Wouldn’t Die.”

The first airport in Alpena was developed in the late 1920s at a large area west of Alpena between the Seven Mile Dam and M-32. The area was known as “The Plains” because of the flat, almost treeless terrain. At one time the area had a reputation for yielding blueberries in abundance to local Indians and early settlers.

Original land donations were from Harry and Philip Fletcher (80 acres) and Alpena Power Company (several other 40-acre plots).

The onset of air travel was during the early part of the 20th century as flying machines began to appear. The Alpena airport was used early on for training under a variety of arrangements with military organizations such as the First Pursuit Group from Selfridge Field in the 1930s.

The federal government was involved through WPA (Works Progress Administration), which helped with clearing and leveling the land for the first landing area and through WAA (War Assets Administration) after World War II.

Important events included:

“On Aug. 31, 1931, the airport was formally dedicated as Captain Phelps Collins Field in honor of Alpena’s World War I hero who fought and died with the famed Lafayette Escadrille.”

“As war spread in in the late 1930s Phelps Collins Airport became increasingly important as a training site.”

“On July 8, 1940, the U.S. Army Air Corps established a training school at the airport. After the U.S. entered World War II, Phelps Collins Field boomed.”

“In 1991… the site was renamed the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC). This new title was more in line with the base mission of “combat training.”

For more details, check

Recycling styrofoam

Q. Reader Mary McQuarrie emails, “In Alpena we can recycle glass, paper, cardboard, cans, plastic and bottles. But where can we recycle styrofoam containers, peanuts, etc.?”

A. Recycle Alcona will take styrofoam, food-related glass and plastics numbers 1-7 in addition to the usual recyclables, according to President Bill Thompson. Its collection date is the second Saturday of the month between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Location is the ARA Fairgrounds, 854 N. Barlow Road, Lincoln. Enter and exit through the north gate.

A donation of $5 is appreciated. Recycle Alcona is an all-volunteer operation and the $5 donations (or larger if you have a trailer full) pays for trucking expenses.

Some of the other items accepted are paper, cardboard, cans, newspapers and magazines. Call Thompson at 724-5077 for more information.

Please send comments and questions to or to “Questions, Anyone?” The Alpena News, 130 Park Place, Alpena, MI 49707.