An ample academic literature discusses airports’ utility as economic development anchors for metropolitan areas, yet very little is known about the administrative apparatus of these important local government enterprises. To better understand airport structure and management in the United States, directors of primary airports were surveyed. Based on this national survey, the administrative structure and position of airports with regard to local government—i.e., special district or functional department—were examined to determine the place these entities occupy on the local government management landscape, as well as the implications of retaining airport authorities in studies of special-purpose governments. This essay concludes that airport authorities do not follow the conventional form and function of special-purpose governments. Consequently, analyses of special-purpose governments should exclude airport authorities because these nonconforming entities may cloud rather than clarify our true understanding of special-purpose governments.