Development began in 1942 with the purchase of 670 acres of land by Floyd County. Shortly after development, the land was turned over to the Department of the Navy for use as a Naval Auxiliary Air Base. After building three asphalt runways, the Navy discontinued its use of the airport and the airport was deeded back to Floyd County in 1945.
After the Navy deeded the airport back to Floyd County, the airport was named for Senator Richard B. Russell. An influential figure in Georgia’s history and a former member of the Senate Armed Services Commission, Senator Russell played a key part in the advancement of Georgia’s infrastructure.
In 2007, the terminal building was named after Admiral John H. Towers, the Father of Naval Aviation. Born and raised in Rome, Georgia, Admiral Towers conceived, organized, and commanded the first Transatlantic flight in Curtiss NC Flying Boats in 1919. He also served as the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet during the early days of the Cold War and was the first military officer from the State of Georgia to reach four star status. Along with his many accomplishments, Admiral Towers was recognized as the head of the Bureau of Aeronautics and forged the carrier doctrine that spearheaded the defeat of Japan. He was also a personal friend to every U.S. President from Taft to Eisenhower.