The history of Pearson Field goes back almost to the origins of mechanized flight itself. The landing site of Lincoln Beachey's groundbreaking flight across the Columbia River from Portland to Vancouver, during the 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition, marked the future location of the Vancouver Barracks Aerodrome. Soon after that, a growing number of aviators used the field for aerial exhibitions and experimental flights until the field was transformed into a spruce mill during World War I. At the end of the war, the Army Air Service established a presence at the field, teaming up with federal and state fire officials to begin aerial fire patrols and forest fire spotting, as well as conducting routine air-mail service and providing a training ground for young pilots.
In 1925, the Vancouver Barracks Aerodrome was renamed Pearson Field, in honor of Lt. Alexander Pearson, a young army pilot killed while piloting an experimental aircraft.
A separate field for civilian aviation was established by the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, later to be controlled by the City of Vancouver. The dominating military presence was soon overshadowed by the civilian presence, with passenger flights, air-mail flights, flight schools, and local air services. All civilian activity at the field was suspended when the U.S. entered World War II. At the conclusion of the war, the military declared the field surplus to their needs and transferred title to the military portion of the field to the City of Vancouver in 1949.
Today Pearson Field is jointly owned by the city and the National Park Service, and remains one of the oldest active air fields in the country.