Owens Field, or Columbia Owens Downtown Airport, was the brainchild of Columbia mayor Dr. L. B. Owens. Dedicated on April 25, 1930, the airport was built in the Congaree River floodplain and paved by the federal Works Progress Administration. The first commercial airport in the Midlands, Owens Field is located in the Rosewood area three miles from the center of Columbia. Eastern Airlines began passenger service in 1932, and Delta Airlines followed in 1934.
Through the years Owens Field has offered general aviation services including aircraft repair, sales, service, and flight instruction. Hawthorne Flying Service and Dixie Aviation received a five-year contact to operate Owens Field in 1946. In 1964 Midlands Aviation began operating the facility.
During the 1970s the future of Owens Field was in doubt as neighboring homeowners lobbied for its closure. Richland County, valuing the convenience for business and government officials, approved funds to renovate the airport. Renovations to the field in 1982–83 added a new 4,600-foot runway, hangars, navigational aids, and lighting. A new terminal opened in 1984. To reflect these changes, the airport was renamed Columbia Owens Downtown Airport. By 1989 there were 118 aircraft based at Owens. In 2004 Richland County began work on a major upgrade, to include a new terminal and new hangars.
Maxey, Russell. Airports of Columbia: A History in Photographs & Headlines. Columbia, S.C.: Palmetto Publishing, 1987.