In the 1930s, a plan to develop an airport to serve the Saginaw Valley and surrounding communities led to the development of Tri-City International Airport, known since 1994 as MBS International Airport.
In 1941, a square mile of property was purchased by the cities of Midland and Saginaw and Bay County, in order to build an airport large enough to meet the anticipated needs of the area. However, our country was at war, and wartime needs took precedence. National leaders feared that Detroit Airport, where combat aircraft were being built, could be a target for bombing. As a result, the federal government took over MBS International Airport and added more land, runways and taxiways so that fighter aircraft could be stationed there, if needed, to intercept bombers en route to Detroit.
The airport infrastructure benefited significantly from this early infusion of federal dollars. And although MBS International Airport was never needed as an alternative World War II airfield base, it was used for a time as a Prisoner of War Camp, housing thousands of Hitler’s troops.
On September 19, 1943, Brig. Gen. Hoyt S. vandenBerg, who was deputy chief of staff of the U.S. Army Air Corps, dedicated the airport before one of the largest audiences in Tri-City history. On June 1, 1946, the airport commission resumed full responsibility of MBS on behalf of the three owning communities, and the airport was opened to commercial aircraft.