A Little History
Meridian Regional Airport ( KMEI) is a public airport located on Key Field, a joint civil-military airfield located 3 mi (4.8 km) southwest of the city of Meridian in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, USA. The airport is served by one commercial airline, but is primarily used for general aviation and military traffic. At 10,004 feet, Key Field is home to the longest public use runway in Mississippi.
Meridian Regional Airport opened in November of 1930 with the completion of the terminal, hangar, powerhouse and a graded and packed dirt runway. With the onset of the Great Depression, the City of Meridian considered abandoning the airport because of the cost of maintenance.
Brothers Algene and Frederick Key, managers of the airport, devised a scheme to keep the airport operating. They hoped that by breaking the standing flight endurance record of 23 days they would focus worldwide attention on Meridian and its airport.
From June 4 until July 1, 1935, the brothers flew over Meridian; a total flight time of over 27 days. Key Field is named in their honor. The hangar and offices used by the Key brothers preceding and following the flight are still in use today and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Key Field is the site of the famous flight by brothers Fred and Al Key ("The Flying Keys") which set a world endurance flight record in 1935. At 12:32 p.m. on June 4, 1935, brothers Al and Fred Key lifted off in their Curtis-Robbins monoplane, the "Ole Miss," from Meridian's airport. The record they established in their 27 days aloft, totaling 653 hours and 34 minutes, remains unbroken in conventional flight. Working with other Meridianites such as A.D. Hunter and James Keeton, the Key brothers devised a workable method of air-to-air refueling in order to attempt this feat.