The airport may be officially named Pierce County Airport but to anyone who has ever been around the airport it is Thun Field and Friday, Sept. 18, Pierce County dedicated a plaque to the man, John Thun, who built the airport on Puyallup’s South Hill and ran it for about 20 years before selling it to Pierce County.
A crowd of about 300 friends and many family members turned out on a beautiful sunny day to see the plaque honoring Thun be unveiled. It is located on a grassy area just south of the house in which Thun and his wife Babe, who attended the event, raised their family. They also operated the airport from the house. The grassy area now holding a flagpole and the plaque at one point held a cafe that they erected and which Babe ran. It was, the community center of its day and where, according to Bruce Thun, airport operations manager for the county, the local CAP and EAA chapters and many other groups were formed.
The airport originally opened in 1944 and Thun acquired the property in 1949. Today, businesses located on the airport employ about 300 people, Clover Park Technical College operates its maintenance and flight schools on the east side and plans are underway to develop more operations on the east side on land acquired by the county. According to County officials, the airport produces a $20 million economic benefit to the area.
Numerous antique and home built aircraft were flown in for the celebration, including a recently completed DC3. Photos from the airport’s earliest days were displayed inside the house.