Back in the 1940s and 1950s residents would frequently hear airplanes and jets roar across the skies of southern New Hampshire. The southeast Manchester and Londonderry areas were particularly affected.
It was not unusual to be wakened at night by the roar of engines from planes flying low enough to shake our house. My parent's home sat on top of a hill, and sat in a popular flight path. Some days for entertainment, we would climb the fire escape, and lay on our backs on the rooftop to watch the airplanes fly over.
On the 22nd of February 1942 the Manchester airfield was named “Grenier Field” to honor 2nd Lieut. Jean Bonet Grenier. He was born in 1910 in Manchester, New Hampshire, the son of Alphonse and Ursula Grenier. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire, and was killed in a Utah plane crash (on 16 Feb 1934) while making a survey of a new mail route for the army.
After the war, the Federal Government downsized its presence at Grenier Field until finally, in 1966, it was given back to Manchester and Londonderry, New Hampshire. In 1978 the airport was once again called simply the “Manchester Airport.” In 1994 a 158,000 square foot passenger terminal was built and opened. In April 2006 this airport was officially renamed Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
Despite this airport's many name changes, there are a few of us who still call it “Grenier Field.” Some habits are difficult to break.
This airport is the same place where Alan Shepard Jr. cleaned hangars and took flying lessons in the 1930s.
-New Hampshire Aviation Historical Society. (added December 2010)