For almost 60 years, Morristown Regional Airport, named Moore-Murrell Field, and Evelyn Bryan Johnson were the same in the eyes of many people. She was the manager when the airport opened on July 1, 1953.
“Mama Bird,” as she was known, learned to fl y in 1944, got a commercial license in 1946, then qualified as a fl ight instructor in 1947. She went on to rack up more fl ying hours than any other woman in history. The offi cial total was more than 57,600 hours. Only one other person has been known to accumulate more.
She was a designated examiner qualified to give fl ight tests for pilot licenses from private to advanced ratings. Though her long career she administered thousands of those flight tests, and personally taught hundreds of people to fly.
When a new terminal was completed in 2011, it was named in her honor. Inside, the building houses a rotation section of photographs from around the area. It also has a section that does not rotate. It is devoted strictly to Evelyn Bryan Johnson. Another feature is a bust of the famous woman pilot that greets pilots and passengers when they walk in.
Mama Bird died on May 10, 2012 at the age of 102. She was the airport manager until the day of her death.
The airport has been updated many times over the years. Today it has a 5,700-foot paved runway with instrument approaches, and runway lights. The runway is 100 feet wide.
Services at the airport include LL100 fuel, jet fuel, aircraft maintenance, including annual inspections, charter services and flight instruction. The Tennessee Technology Center at Morristown operates a school for aircraft mechanics at the airport.
The Evelyn Bryan Johnson terminal has a pilot’s lounge, a conference room with wireless internet service, computer plug-ins, a classroom for pilot training and a kitchen to supply catering for business meetings.
The airport is a major attraction for business and industry considering locating to Morristown and it is used by existing businesses as well as pilots who fly for pleasure.
The hangers at the airport are usually full, but there is ample space for local and visiting aircraft to tie-down outdoors.
The airport is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to dusk. The office telephone number is 423-586-2483.