Vero Beach Municipal Airport (IATA: VRB, ICAO: KVRB, FAA LID: VRB) is a public-use airport located 1 mile (1.6 km) northwest of the central business district of the city of Vero Beach in Indian River County, Florida, United States. The airport is publicly owned. Vero Beach Municipal Airport also is the home of Piper Aircraft.
Vero Beach Municipal Airport was dedicated in 1930 and commercial airline service began in 1932 when Eastern Air Lines (EAL) began using the airfield for refueling stops. In 1935, EAL instituted passenger and mail service from Vero Beach AirportEastern continued to serve Vero Beach with scheduled passenger flights until the early 1970s. By the end of the decade, war clouds were gathering and some far sighted local citizens initiated further development of the airport facility by installing permanent runway lights and adding radio and teletype machines. In 1939, using Public Assistance workers, the runways were extended and one year later the Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) spent an additional $250,000 on additional improvements. With the beginning of the 1940s, the airport would become a major player as the U.S. became involved in World War II.
In the early 1940s, the focus was on war. In 1942, the U.S. Navy notified Vero Beach officials that it had selected their municipal airport as the site for a naval air station and purchased an additional 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) surrounding Vero Beach Airport. The base was formally commissioned as Naval Air Station Vero Beach in 1942 and pilot training began at NAS Vero Beach in February 1943. At the peak of its activity, NAS Vero Beach was home to 1,400 U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps servicemen and 250 aircraft. After the war ended, NAS Vero Beach was reduced to a skeletal staff, and in 1947 the Navy closed NAS Vero Beach and returned the airport to the city.
In 1948, major league baseball came to Vero Beach as Bud Holman, a local businessman, invited the Brooklyn Dodgers to take over former barracks facilities from the closed naval air station as a winter and spring training facility. The Dodgers liked the area so much that Dodgertown was born, a 109-acre (0.44 km2) tract adjacent to the airport, as their winter and spring training grounds. The Dodgers continued to use the facility even after they moved to California and became the Los Angeles Dodgers. This facility remained in operation until 2008, when the Dodgers moved to a new spring training facility in Glendale, Arizona.
In 1957, Piper Aircraft selected Vero Beach for their research and development center, which was also built on part of the grounds of the former naval air station. In 1961, Piper moved its administrative and manufacturing operations here after completing building additions. By 1967, Piper had expanded its facility to 11 acres (45,000 m2) and its work force to over 2,000 employees. Manufacturing of Piper Aircraft at the Vero Beach facility ceased in the mid-1980s when, together with other sellers of light aircraft in the USA, as increasing product liability insurance premiums made continued operation financially impossible. Upon limitation of liability provided by new legislation by the U.S. Congress in the early 1990s, manufacturing re-commenced in 1995.
FlightSafety Academy, a leading flight training school and an integral part of FlightSafety International, is also located at VRB. The facility’s primary focus is on ab initio flight training for prospective U.S. and international commercial airline pilots who are not graduates of a military flight training program.
Today, VRB is a 1,707-acre (6.91 km2) tower-controlled facility with a full FAR Part 139 operating certificate. Although the airport has had commercial service, primarily regional service, in the recent past, it currently has no scheduled commercial airline service.