The Airport is located on the west shoreline of Tampa Bay north of St. Petersburg, the birthplace of commercial air transportation. Barely a decade after the Wright brothers' pioneer flight at Kitty Hawk, the first ticket for air travel was sold by the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line to a fare-paying passenger. This historic event on January 1, 1914, marked the beginning of commercial air transportation anywhere in the world and is commemorated by a plaque at St. Petersburg- Clearwater International Airport's terminal building. A replica of the Benoist amphibious airplane flown on the inaugural flight is displayed at the Airport. The Tampa Bay area celebrates pioneers in commercial aviation with the Tony Jannus Distinuguished Aviation Award - for more information visit http://www.tonyjannusaward.com
Construction of the Airport at its present site started in March 1941. After Pearl Harbor, the airport, known as Pinellas Army Airfield, was used as a military flight-training base. The 304th Fighter Squadron, a combat training unit of the 337th Fighter Group (Third Army Air Force) based P-40's and, later, P-51's here for the duration of World War II. A plaque dedicated at the airport terminal in 1994 by the P-51 fighter Pilots Association and Brigadier General James H. Howard, the only European Theater fighter pilot to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in WWII and the last wartime base commander of Pinellas Army Airfield, commemorates the airport's vital war role. A permanent exhibit honoring General Howard is located in the terminal.
After WWII, the Airport property was given to Pinellas County by the U.S. Government to operate as a commercial airport. It was originally called the Pinellas International Airport and given the Airport call letters, PIE.
Today, the St. Petersburg - Clearwater International Airport is a 2,000 acre fully certified facility with ILS-equipped 9,730-foot runway and two 5,500-foot runways. It is home of the busiest Coast Guard Air Station in the world. U.S. Customs, FAA-operated control tower and the Central Florida Region Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS), the busiest in the U.S., are also important federal government services at the airport along with the Airport Industrial Park. The entire 2000-acre tract of the Airport is designated as a Foreign Trade Zone.
United Parcel Service, Air Cargo and General/Corporate Aviation are also major activities. The airport includes a 24-hour Airport Rescue and Fire-Fighting (ARFF) Department, Facilities, Operations, Engineering, and Administrative personnel.