Our first feature on Charlotte-Douglas was in May 2016. Check it out here!
In November 1935, the Charlotte City Council voted to facilitate the pruchase of land for a new municipal airport site, after Mayor Ben E. Douglas successfully led an appeal to President Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration (WPA) for funding. The city's only previous airfield was Charlotte Airport, a small private venture operated by famous Charlotte aviator Johnny Crowell, whose field was only open on weekends for air shows and pilot training. Mayor Douglas envisioned a large airport for the growth of the city at a time when commercial flight was relatively new, and he saw the WPA mission to create work during the massive economic devastation created by the Depression as a perfect opportunity. Upon completion in June 1937, the Charlotte Municipal Airport featured a terminal building, a single hangar, a beacon tower, and three runways. Eastern Air Lines, whose terminal is seen in this image from 1949, flew the first plane into the airport on May 17, 1937.
This postcard image shows how the Douglas Municipal Airport had developed in the 1960s.
Senator John F. Kennedy Jr. arrives at Douglas Airport for a visit to Charlotte during his presidential campaign in September 1960.
The site witnessed significant expansion by the federal government in 1941, when the City of Charlotte leased it to the War Department. The airport was conveyed back to Charlotte after the war in 1946, and the city officially renamed it Douglas Municipal Airport in 1954 in honor of the mayor who spearheaded the movement to build it. Delta Air Lines began passenger service there in 1956, and Eastern Air Lines began the region's scheduled jet service with the Boeing 720 in early 1962. After airline deregulation in 1978 passenger numbers at the terminal doubled, and a new runway and control tower were opened in 1979 to handle the increased customer loads. A new passenger terminal designed by Odell Associates opened in 1982, and the airport was renamed Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Douglas is currently US Airways' largest hub, with service to over 175 domestic and international destinations, is the 10 busiest airport in the United States and 32nd busiest in the world (2017). A new terminal with modern amenities recently opened, offering passengers a new experience. The extremely busy and modern international airport has obviously come a long way from the days of the original wooden Eastern Airlines terminal.
View outside the drop-off/pick up section before the more recent renovations and movement of the Queen Charlotte statue.
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
Charlotte Then and Now, Brandon Lunsford, 2013.
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass