Rolle Field doesn't look like much right now, but that could change in the future.
Located in southern Yuma County near the city of San Luis, Rolle Field is considered an auxiliary airfield. The Yuma County Airport Authority oversees it, along with Yuma International Airport.
Its history stretches back to World War II when it was used to train Army bomber pilots. The years since then were not kind to the field. It became mostly a battered strip of asphalt in the middle of the desert with no facilities and limited access.
But that began to change a few years ago when the Airport Authority saw potential for it. Significant upgrades were made to it in 2011 and it is now used primarily by local private pilots and student pilots to practice takeoffs and landings and by defense contractors located here.
But there are bigger plans for it in the future if needed funding can be found. Space is limited at the main airport, both for defense contractor operations and general aviation. Rolle Field is seen as an alternative place for those operations, as well as aircraft testing.
A roadblock had occurred recently, however, due to a dispute over the land agreement for the airfield. The site is operated under a 25-year agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. But the Arizona attorney general questioned whether that was sufficient to allow use of a $178,000 grant to master plan the site.
Fortunately, that roadblock was cleared earlier this month by including a study of ways to improve the land agreement as part of the master plan.
That's good news for our community. Interest in both military and civilian aviation here is growing, two opportunities that could have significant economic impact locally.
Yuma County already has the necessary weather conditions to encourage this growth. Now it needs the space and facilities to make it happen. Rolle Field could potentially fulfill both of those requirements.