Crest History 1963 – 1983

Airport entrance in 1971.

The east side of the airport has an FBO and several homes. The West side of the runway has most of the homes with homes sharing a taxiway. This is what Crest looked like starting in the 1970’s.


History of Crest Airpark by Janet Gundlach
1963 to 1983

The history of Crest Airpark is varied and interesting. Ownership has changed from time to time and each change has brought new improvements to the airport. The original families involved in the ownership and development of Crest Airpark have a long history of aviation involvement. Janet Gundlach, a previous Airport Manager, has prepared the following history of the facility and much of the information comes from the memories of the users of Crest Airpark, rather than detailed records. This history can be looked upon as a chronological record of the airport’s past.

1963 The Beginning – Al and Virginia Knechtel

The land, later to be developed as the Crest Airpark, was purchased by Mr. Al Knechtel. Mr. Knechtel previously owned the “old” Auburn Airport, Auburn, Washington. Virginia Knechtel, Al’s wife, also had a past involvement in aviation. Her family owned the “old” Kent Airport, Kent, Washington. Also involved in the development of the airport, was Einar Nielsen, who by himself, graded the runway, tilling as much as 12 feet in areas to provide a level surface. Hyserman Construction of Auburn laid and graded the crushed rock, which remained for a period as the finished runway surface.

1964 Need Fuel?

An aviation fuel contract was signed with Chevron, U.S.A.   The fixed base operation, Skycrest Aviation owned and operated by the Knechtel’s, had Chevron install the gas island.

1965 Moved Old Auburn Airport Hangars

The present “T” Hangar, rows C, D, E and F were brought to and installed on the airport. These three hangars were relocated from the “”old” Auburn Airport which was closed to allow construction of a new housing development.

1965 First House

The first house located at the airpark was constructed. This house, located on the southeast side of the airport, was assured access to the runway.

1966 Al Knechtel Dies

In this year tragedy struck with the untimely death of Al Knechtel in an aircraft accident. Virginia Knechtel continued as the principal owner and manager of the Airport.

1967 Virginia Marries Stan Nesland

The management of the airport expanded with the marriage of Virginia Knechtel to Stan Nesland. Shortly thereafter the runway was improved with an oilmat surface. This work was done by City Transfer of Kent. At the same time, the parallel taxiway was added. The surface of the taxiway remained crushed gravel for several years.

1968 Office and More Hangars

Modernization of the airport took place with the construction of the present office and pilots’ lounge. Hangar rows B and E were also added. All these facilities were developed by Stan Nesland. Night use of the airport was initiated during this year with the addition of low intensity runway lights which include standard household type light bulbs.

1970 More Pavement and First Subdivisions

Both the parallel taxiway and gas island area were improved with an oilmat surface in this year. Subdivision 1 plat was filed with King County. This was the first development to take place on the west side of the airport with provision for 50 lots, all with runway access. Subdivision 2 plat was also filed this year. This 18 lot subdivision is parallel to the runway on the east side of the airfield.

Construction starting on various houses in 1972

1971 First Homes Constructed

The first dirt roads in subdivision 1 were constructed, and the adjacent lots were put up for sale. Later in the year, the dirt roads were surfaced with an oilmat layer and three homes were built.

1973 Subdivision 3

Further development of the west side of the airport was facilitated with the filing of subdivision 3 plat.

1975 Bill Lardent and Norm Grier buy Crest Airpark

In December of this year, Bill Lardent and Norman Grier purchased the airport and commenced service under the name of G & L Enterprises, doing business as Crest Airpark. The areas subdivided for housing development remained the property of Virginia Nesland.

1976 More Hangars and Last Subdivision

Additional “T” hangars were added to the airport. Rows A and G were built providing space for an additional 21 aircraft. This year Virginia Nesland filed subdivision 4 plat with King County. This was the last area on the west side for homesites.

1979 Paved Tiedowns Added

Thirty-four (34) asphalt tiedown pads were constructed in the area north of the airport office building.

1980 Norm Grier Buys Bill Lardent Share

In January of this year, Norman Grier purchased total interest in the airport from Bill Lardent. At the same time, the paving around the gas island was improved.

1981 Cleared North of Runway and Added Tiedowns

Einar Nielson again went to work on the airport, clearing and grading an area 500 feet beyond the end of Runway 33. Dick Mowry installed anchors for 35 additional aircraft to be tied down.

1982 Paved Gas Island Area

The gas island went through a major renovation with new asphalt and concrete improvements.

1983 Installed Unicom and Cleared Trees

Airport/Aircraft communications moved forward with the addition of a unicom radio. Major gains were made this year in the battle to remove obstructions to air navigation. Trees located in the approach to Runway 33 and on the west side of the runway were removed.

Residential information: All 110 residential lots with access to the runway have been sold by Virginia Nesland. Homeowners who purchased the lots are guaranteed access to the airfield until the year 2000. At the present time, 82 homes have been constructed in the subdivisions, with 79 of them having hangars which house a total of 150 aircraft. (Editor’s note: Flying Acres had more than 110 lots at the time and one lot remained unsold until 1984.)

Looking North around 1985. So many airplanes that we had them tied down on both the east and west side of the runway.

Existing Airport Facilities in 1983

Crest Airpark is located on a 63.56 acre site 5.5 miles east of Kent, Washington, and southeast of Kent, Washington, and southeast of Highway 18 (see figures 1 and 2). The airport is owned and operated by Mr. Noman C. Grier. Mr. Grier has a designated Airport Manager who is responsible for the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the facility.

Crest Airpark is a unique facility. Not only is it the base for a large number of aircraft, but also the home for approximately 79 owners of based aircraft. The facility, as indicated in the History Section of this report, provides airfield access to privately owned residential units, each having its own aircraft hangar.

The airport has limited long-term development potential due to the location, which is on top of a hill surrounded by residential development. The airport provides a valuable service to the greater Puget Sound Regional Aviation System and, through quality service at fair prices, attracts aircraft from a greater distance than might be expected.

The existing airport facilities are shown on Figure 3.

(Editor’s note: The figures referenced are not available.)

An early view of some of the houses being built. Notice the gravel taxiways that grew into nice grass over the years. Also all the short trees at the time now tower above the airport and houses!