Mangalore Airport was established by the Federal Government during World War II (1939-1945) to train pilots for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and as an enlistment centre. After the war, the airport became a busy recreational airfield for civilian flyers as well as the venue for an annual air show. Mangalore Airport was also a major player in the expansion and development of post-war commercial passenger traffic and was an alternative airport to Essendon in the event of its closure due to fog.
With the commissioning of the new Melbourne Airport at Tullamarine in 1970, its superior navigation aids and the steady increase in size of passenger planes meant that Mangalore Airport was no longer needed as an alternative airport to Melbourne. The Federal Government passed ownership of Mangalore Airport to the local Council in the 1980’s. They in turn sold the airport to private interests and it currently remains in private hands today.
Mangalore’s transition from World War II pilot training through to recreational use as well as commercial use continues to change over time. The major activities at Mangalore are now the pilot training of international students.