Dane County Regional Airport

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Dane County Regional Airport
Truax Field
File:Dane County Regional Airport Logo.png
Logo as of 2013
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Dane County
Serves Madison, Wisconsin
Location Madison, Wisconsin
Elevation AMSL 887 ft / 270 m
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Website www.MSNairport.com
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Direction Length Surface
ft m
18/36 9,006 2,745 Concrete
3/21 7,200 2,195 Concrete
14/32 5,846 1,782 Concrete
Statistics (2012)
Aircraft operations 82,777
Based aircraft 163
Passengers 1,615,841
Sources: airport web site[1] and FAA[2]
For the Air National Guard use of this facility, see Truax Field Air National Guard Base

Dane County Regional Airport (IATA: MSNICAO: KMSNFAA LID: MSN) (formerly Truax Field) is a civil-military airport six miles northeast of downtown Madison, the capital of Wisconsin.[2] It has three runways and in 2011 it served over 1.5 million passengers. MSN serves American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines and United Airlines. These airlines have non-stop flights to thirteen hubs with over 94 departures and arrivals daily and additional destinations such as Washington DC, New York City and Orlando. Delta and United provide service with Airbus A319s, A320s, Boeing 737s and 757s which are among the largest aircraft seen at the airport.

Truax Field was named in honor of Lieutenant Thomas L. Truax, USAAF, a Wisconsin native who was killed (along with his wingman, Lieutenant Speckman) in a P-40 training accident during poor weather in San Anselmo, CA on November 2, 1941, just before the United States' entry into World War II.

The airport is home to the 1st Battalion 147th Aviation Regiment and is an Air Assault Battalion in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. The 1-147th operates the UH-60M Blackhawk Helicopter and has deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, which operates F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. The 115th Fighter Wing is one of 14 operational air defense units responsible for air defense of the eastern continental United States.


Originally known as Madison Army Airfield, Truax Field was activated as an U.S. Army Air Forces airfield in June 1942 during World War II. During the war it was used by the Army Air Force Eastern Technical Training Center, a major school operating at Truax AAF for training radio operators and mechanics, and later expanded to training in radar operations, control tower operations and other communications fields for the Army Airways Communication Service. A unit established in 1943 trained radio operators and mechanics on B-29 Superfortress communications equipment. The host unit on the airfield was the 334th (later 3508th) Army Air Force Base Unit. On September 17, 1945, the airfield's mission was changed to that of a separation center, and it was closed as an active AAF airfield on November 30, 1945.

Conveyed to local civil authorities, the Madison Municipal Airport became the home of the Wisconsin Air National Guard and its present-day 115th Fighter Wing (115 FW), an Air National Guard fighter wing operationally-gained by the Air Combat Command (ACC) and which still operates from the base, flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

A 31,000 square foot terminal building was built on the west side of the airfield. The cost was $2.36 million, and it opened on December 15, 1966. In 1986 the airport tripled in size with a $12 million project that expanded the terminal from 32,000 square feet to 90,000 square feet, adding a second level concourse with six boarding bridges.[3]

In 2006 the airport completed a $65 million expansion that doubled the size of the terminal, built in a Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced prairie style designed by the Architectural Alliance based in Minneapolis.[4] New features include more restaurant and retail area post-security, an art court, and both business and family lounges. As has been the case in the past decade the airport has once again been adding additional parking since 2007. The new terminal holds 13 gates with jetways, WiFi, 6 restaurants, family and business gathering rooms, and an art gallery.

Facilities and aircraft

Aerial view, 2000.

Dane County Regional Airport covers 4,000 acres at an elevation of 887 feet (270 m) above mean sea level. It has three concrete runways: 3/21 is 7,200 by 150 feet (2,195 x 46 m); 14/32 is 5,846 by 150 feet (1,782 x 46 m); 18/36 is 9,006 by 150 feet (2,745 x 46 m).[2]

The fixed base operator (FBO) is Wisconsin Aviation,[5] which purchased the assets of the former FBO, Four Lakes Aviation, in 1994.

More recent data shows the following operations annually for the last six years:[6]

2005: 115,818
2006: 115,613
2007: 119,760
2008: 111,134
2009: 96,700
2010: 96,205
2011: 83,263
2012: 82,777

In 1927 the City of Madison purchased 290 acres of land for $35,380. Previously a cabbage patch for a nearby sauerkraut factory, the newly acquired land would later become the present day home of the Dane County Regional Airport (MSN Airport, 2012). In January 1936, the city council voted to accept a WPA grant for construction of four runways and an airplane hangar. Additional grants financed the terminal and administrative building as well as electric floodlights. The development price tag was $1,000,000 – 10% paid by the city and remainder by the federal government (MSN Airport, 2012). In September 1938, Barnstormer Howard Morey of Chicago, Edgar Quinn and J.J. McMannamy organized the Madison Airways Corporation (MSN Airport, 2012).

In 1942, operation of the airfield was also transferred to the US Army Air Corps. The airfield was renamed Truax Field, in honor of Madisonian Lt. Thomas L. Truax, who died in a training flight shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Twenty years later in 1962, the city completed a long-range master plan – paving the way for a grant from the Federal Aid to Airports Program – a new terminal and taxiway system was designed. This would be the first expansion for the airport. A modern 31,000 square foot terminal building was built across the airfield on the west side – which was eight-times larger than the original east side terminal. The cost of the new terminal was $2.36 million, it opened on December 15, 1966. By 1968, the US Air Force was completely phased out at Truax field, leaving the Wisconsin Air National Guard to perform alert/interceptor mission exclusively 770 acres of land and many buildings were deeded to the city.

A view of the airport and surroundings during construction, June 1937.

In 1974, newer transportation was introduced to the airport, they added jet service through Northwest Orient Airlines and were averaging over 500,000 passengers per year. In 1986, the airport tripled in size with a $12 million project that expanded the terminal from 32,000 square feet to 90,000 square feet, adding a second level concourse with six boarding bridges.

In 1991, a $3.8 million expansion added a 50-foot high glass atrium and a commuter gate – expanding the terminal to over 125,000 square feet. A multi-level parking structure was built in 1993, with an additional level added in 1998. In 2001, a groundbreaking ceremony initiated a 5-year, $68 million building project that doubled the size of the terminal to 274,000 square feet.

In 2009, the airport received $4 million in stimulus dollars to expand taxiway B to the south end of runway 18-36.[7] The taxiway is primarily used by WI air national guard aircraft and also allows private jets to return to the fixed base operator without having to hold on taxiway A to cross the main runway.

In 2014, several additional levels creating 1,600 covered parking spaces, were being added to one of the airport parking structures at a cost of $30 million.[8][9]

In 2014, the airport secured funding for a Category II instrument landing system and other systems to facilitate low visibility landings.[10]

In 2015, United Express had service to Chicago-O'Hare, but was upgraded to mainline United Airlines service.

Airlines and destinations


Airlines Destinations
American Eagle Charlotte (begins April 5, 2016),[11] Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Delta Connection Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–LaGuardia, Salt Lake City, Washington–National
Frontier Airlines Denver
Seasonal: Orlando
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Denver
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Newark


Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from MSN (Oct 2014 – Sep 2015)[12]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 196,000 American, United
2 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota 154,000 Delta
3 Detroit, Michigan 151,000 Delta
4 Atlanta, Georgia 105,000 Delta
5 Denver, Colorado 88,000 Frontier, United
6 Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas 52,000 American
7 New York–LaGuardia, New York 23,000 Delta
8 Salt Lake City, Utah 15,000 Delta
9 Washington–National, D.C. 14,000 Delta
10 Newark, New Jersey 13,000 United


  1. Dane County Regional Airport, official web site
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 FAA Airport Master Record for MSN (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2009-08-27
  3. History Of The Dane County Regional Airport
  4. Dane County Regional Airport Opens to Rave Reviews
  5. Wisconsin Aviation, the airport's fixed base operator (FBO)
  6. Air Traffic Activity System (ATADS). (2010). ATADS: Airport operations: Standard report. Retrieved from http://aspm.faa.gov/opsnet/sys/opsnet-server-x.asp
  7. "Stimulus Gives $4M for Dane County Airport Taxiway". The Capital Times. March 30, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Ivey, Mike (October 8, 2013). "Epic Systems driving $30 million parking expansion at airport". The Capital Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Parking Expansion Construction Project Begins". msnairport.com. May 6, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Airport To Secure Funding For Precision Instrument Approach". msnairport.com. June 16, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "American Airlines Adds New Domestic Routes from April 2016". Airlineroute.net. December 15, 2015. Retrieved December 15, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Madison, WI: Dane County Regional-Truax Field (MSN)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT). Retrieved November 23, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links