Stavanger Airport, Sola is Norway's second oldest airport, opened by King Haakon VII 29 May 1937. The airport was the second to have a concrete runway in Europe. The airport was attacked and captured by German fallschirmjägers from 1st battalion of the 1st Regiment, 7th Flieger Division supported by Luftwaffe aircraft on 9 April 1940. The attack was over in an hour, and the airport remained in German hands for the duration of World War II. During the war, the German occupation forces and Luftwaffe expanded the airport considerably, as it was a vital strategic asset for the Germans. Former anti-aircraft positions are also still visible along the neighboring beach Solastranda.
Originally, the idea was to locate the Stavanger airport at Forus, but after the war the Royal Norwegian Air Force decided to use Sola temporarily until the new airport was built, and nothing ever became of Forus. Sola Air Station has since been of vital importance for the Norwegian armed forces, but gradually lost assignments, and in 1982 the last fighter squadron left the airport.
Stavanger Airport has two passenger terminals, one for airplanes and one for helicopters. When the present terminal was put into use 28 January 1987, it was the first airport in Norway to have jet bridges, nine in total. The old terminal was then converted into a heliport. The airport has two crossing runways: the main runway, north/south (18/36) and the main runway for helicopters, which is oriented northwest–southeast (11/29).
Expansion of the airplane terminal took place in 2009. The new gates were built without jetbridges. The airport's two largest airlines, SAS and Norwegian, showed little interest in such amenity and desired quicker turnaround times. SAS though later said that they did want jetbridges for their larger jet aircraft, and only wanted gates without jetbridges for their smaller turboprop aircraft. The lack of jetbridges angered the societies representing the disabled and multiple sclerosis afflicted, and prompting several Rogaland politicians to put pressure on Avinor to reconsider the building. In April 2009, Avinor decided not to build jetbridges.
Offshore helicopter flights out of Stavanger commenced in 1966. Instead of operating out of Sola, the operator Helikopter Service decided to operate their services out of Stavanger Airport, Forus, a closed-down airport built during the Second World War. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s this became an increasingly problematic solution, not least due to increased development of the area. It eventually became inevitable to relocate the base to Sola. To allow for the transfer, the airport authority built a new, separate helicopter terminal at Sola, costing 56 million Norwegian kroner. It opened on 7 March 1989, at the same time as operations ceased out of Forus. At the same time Helikopter Service built an operations center at the airport, including a hangar and maintenance center. In total the relocation from Forus cost about 120 million kroner. 
Sola Airport being opened, to the right a Deutsche Luft Hansa Junkers G.38
Det Norske Luftfartsselskap (DNL, later Scandinavian Airlines System or SAS) started flying to Sola after the war, as did Braathens SAFE in 1946 on its routes to Europe and the Far East with the Douglas DC-3 aircraft. In 1952, Braathens SAFE received concession to fly the routes Oslo–Stavanger, Oslo–Kristiansand–Stavanger and the coastal route Stavanger–Bergen–Ålesund–Trondheim–Bodø–Tromsø. Widerøe established itself at Sola in the late 1980s after they bought Sandefjord Airport, Torp-based Norsk Air. For a time, SAS operated intercontinental nonstop flights between Stavanger and Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) located in Texas in the U.S., with this service being operated by PrivatAir with Boeing 737-700 jetliners configured with 44 business class seats.
When the oil exploration in the Norwegian part of the North Sea started in 1967, there was a sudden need for helicopter transport out to the oil platforms. The first helicopter service was Helikopter Service, later renamed CHC Helikopter Service, who started operations with 2 Sikorsky S-61Ns initially from a makeshift heliport at Stavanger Airport, Forus. The offshore helicopter operations were moved to the Sola in 1989. Braathens Helikopter, a sister company of Braathens SAFE, also operated helicopters from Sola in the period 1989–1994, but was then sold to Helikopter Service. Norsk Helikopter, later renamed Bristow Norway, started their offshore flying at Sola in 1993. Bristow Norway is now the biggest helicopter company in Sola, with the average of 28 departures each day Monday–Friday. CHC Helicopter Service has the average of 8 departures each day Monday–Friday.