The airstrip was built by the United States Army Air Forces about 1942, and was known as the Lahonton Airstrip. It was an emergency landing airfield for military aircraft on training flights. In 1945, Hale Bennett, a World War II bomber pilot, was forced to land on the airfield when an accident closed Reno-Stead Airport. Although the airport was shut down after the war, Bennett remembered the desert airstrip.
More than 40 years
later, Hale Bennett
and his wife Kay, both
private pilots, rediscovered
the abandoned airfiled.
Although the runway
was crumbling and weedy
after so many years,
they recognized the
value of the open approach
and level land. Together
they have built an
airport to be proud
of. Hale passed on
March 9, 2014 - he
was 93 years old.
Article from Nevada Appeal, March 15, 2013, by Sally Roberts
At an age when many Americans are relaxing in retirement Hale and Kay Bennett
decided to open an airport. “It isn’t just kids who things like
that” said Hale, who just turned 93, about the visionary project.
The couple met while serving on the Carson-Tahoe Hospital (now Carson Tahoe
Regional Medical Center) board of directors. Kay was a nursing supervisor
at the hospital and member of the Carson City Board of Supervisors. She
to represent the city on the hospital board. Hale, retired director of the
State Division of Data Processing, was chairman of the board. They celebrated
their 25th anniversary in 2013. Together, they worked toward improving the
In 1989, they heard about an economic development project in Fallon and decided
to drive east on U.S. 50 to take a look. Kay Bennett said that Hale turned
off U.S. 50 and down a rough road. A new pilot at the time, Kay gradually
realized that they were on an old runway. Hale informed me that he had
landed a B-29
on this strip. That was during World War II, during which Hale was a bomber
pilot with the 553rd Squadron. He flew 68 combat missions over Europe,
including two on D-Day. After the war, he helped train pilots.
In 1945, he was bound for Reno Stead Airport in a B-29 with a crew he was
training, but an accident had closed that airport. He was diverted to the Lahontan
Airstrip, as it was known then. Fast forward 44 years, and “There was
nothing here except a runway that had almost evaporated” Hale said. They
both recognized the potential buried under the weeds, and the Silver Springs
Airport took root. “What we both saw right away was the open approach”,
Kay Bennett said. “So much level land here. We could see a tremendous
“We were pilots”, Hale said. “We both love to fly. One way
or another we were going to fly when we retired. I had acquired a nice airplane.
We enjoy flying to new places and thought this was a good place for an airport”
The timing was right. The people who controlled the property wanted to get
rid of it. The Bennetts took over the lease, transferred the land back to
Lyon County and negotiated a new 50 year lease that includes development
land surrounding the runways and taxi ways. In return, the Bennetts operate,
maintain and insure the airport.
Kay Bennett, now 77, admitted that starting an airport was a daunting task,
but together they brought political strength, creativity and knowledge to the