This airport replaced Richards Field as Kansas City's main airport. It was dedicated as New Richards Field in 1927 by Charles Lindbergh. It was quickly renamed Kansas City Municipal Airport. Its most prominent tenant was TWA which was headquartered in Kansas City because of its central location. The airport was built in the Missouri River bottoms next to the rail tracks at theHannibal Bridge. At the time air travel was considered to be handled in conjunction with rail traffic.
The airport had limited area for expansion (in fact, Fairfax Airport directly across the Missouri River in Kansas City, Kansas was actually bigger area wise before it closed). Airplanes had to avoid the 200-foot (60 m) Quality Hill and the Downtown Kansas City skyline at the south end of the main runway. In the early 1960s an FAA memo called it "the most dangerous major airport in the country" and urged that no further federal funds be spent on it. Kansas City replaced the airport in 1972 with Kansas City International Airport.
The April 1957 OAG shows 40 weekday Braniff departures, 39 TWA, 9 Continental, 4 United, 2 Delta, 2 Ozark and 2 Central.
The downtown airport has been renamed for Charles Wheeler who was mayor when Kansas City International opened. Richards Road which serves the airport is named for John Francisco Richards II, a Kansas City airman killed in World War I (and whose name was also applied to Richards Field and Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base).
Despite the concerns about the airport's being unsafe, Air Force One frequently uses it during Presidential visits. 
Today, the airport is used chiefly for corporate and recreational aviation. Its location just north of the downtown business center provides excellent highway access.
It is home to the National Airline History Museum which focuses extensively on commercial airlines.