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Originally called the Hillsgrove State Airport upon its opening in 1931, the Rhode Island State Airport is the very first airfield in the United States to be state-owned and operated. On the day that it was operated, it attracted over 150 thousand people, the largest crowd that has ever attended a public function, hosted by the government in the country. Most people came for the air shows that were held during the ceremonies.

The Rhode Island State Airport was originally composed of 158 acres of turf and cleared brush runways. It only had cemented runways in 1935, and a two-way radio station was also installed that year. Aside from these official events, there were also a good number of historical incidents on the site, including the 1972 Rolling Stones arrest and the 2007 CRJ incident.

By 1938, the Rhode Island State Airport was renamed as the Theodore Francis Green State Airport, after the governor executed an executive order.
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