The History Behind 'ACK'

October 22, 2015


Nantucket Memorial Airport, which is coded ACK by the International Air Transportation Association, is the only airport on Nantucket Island, and is actually the second-busiest in Massachusetts. The airport has a rich history, not only in the development of aviation, but also in the defense of our nation.

Began Before World War II

In the early days of aviation, many people on the island desired using air transportation to get to and from the mainland. Recognizing the need, a local farmer began allowing pilots to use his fields for planes to land and take off in. This led to the development of several runways and airport buildings, which were eventually developed around the man’s original farmhouse, which still stands today.

Early Records

Several memorable events took place during this period. One occurred in February 1934, when a pilot successfully navigated from Nantucket to Boston in under thirty-one minutes, a record at that time. In July, 1935 a German seaplane stopped at ACK for refueling after making a 600-mile long journey.

Legends of ACK

Several legends have emerged concerning the airports earliest aviators. One involved a pilot named William Harris, who allegedly had a modified airplane that would double as a car. After landing at the airport, he would simply remove the propeller and wings, and then take off driving. Another legend claims that during the Prohibition period, air transportation played a major role in transporting liquor to and from the island.

Military History

Nantucket airport become even busier during World War II. The United States Navy took over its operations, renaming it the Naval Auxiliary Air Facility. During that time, the airport was expanded to include additional hangars, a control tower, and paved runways. While the Navy controlled the airport, it was primarily used for training, particularly in the use of torpedoes.

After The War

ACK was transferred from the Department of the Navy to the City of Nantucket in 1946. It was officially dedicated by an Army Air Corps chaplain, Reverend Claude Bond. Upon its conversion to a civilian airport, Northeastern Airlines began offering commercial travel, and the airport has primarily been used for this purpose ever since.

ACK Today

Today, you may travel from ACK airport to some of the busiest destinations in the northeast, including Logan International Airport in Boston and JFK International Airport in New York City. If you’re a seasonal visitor traveling to or from any of these locations, you may prefer to store boats, fishing equipment or other similar items on the island until you return. If so, please contact Nantucket Storage Center to find a suitable unit.

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