Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Capital Airport

Question: When was Springfield's Capital Airport officially opened?

Answer: November 2, 1947.

This picture shows the original terminal.

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I got this photo from the Springfield Aviation History link to the left. The page linked to is actually part of a larger web site called AreoKnow. This site is based her in Springfield and is dedicated not only to local aviation history but many aspects of aviation here and around the world, including aircraft model building, air shows and aviation news. I like this sort of stuff and I plan to use them as a resource here in the future.

Here's what the Springfield Aviation History page says:
What we know about Springfield, Illinois aviation-related businesses, aviators from Springfield and Springfield area airports. If you have history that should be shared here, please contact AeroKnow so that we may borrow, carefully copy your pictures or documents and return them. We also want to interview anyone who worked at Springfield area airports or had careers in flying or other parts of aviation for our oral history recording effort. Please contact us if you have a story to tell or know of someone with a story to tell.
In addition to that statement, they only have three pictures currently posted on that page. However, if you explore the whole web site (their home page is here) you will find many other old photos. Also, if you have anything of interest to them, please contribute.

In my own lifetime, I’ve witnessed a number of changes out at the airport. My first memories are from the mid to late 1960s when my mother would pack up all the kids and take us out to meet my father who would be returning from this or that business trip. Back then, there was an outdoor, second story observation deck you could go up to and watch the planes go in and out. That disappeared in the early 1970s when security first became an issue. At that point, only passengers were allowed through the “gates”.

I also remember the exhilaration I got on those early visits when the Air National Guard jets would take off. The noise and vibration were overwhelming. It was all very exiting.

Those were also the days when the airport was served almost exclusively by the now defunct Ozark Airlines; their green and white planes landing and taking off with great regularity.

I remember the control tower being on top of the terminal back then too. The new tower, the one in use today, sits apart from the terminal some distance away.

Anyone else got any Capital Airport memories? Anyone remember Springfield’s Southwest Airport located off of Chatham road somewhere (I don’t remember it but I know it was there)?

I’m sure I’ll be returning to the subject of Springfield aviation again.


Anonymous Marie said...

Glad to know that about 1947. I have a few memories of going outside in a little fenced-in area at Springfield's airport to watch the comings and goings.

I was 13 the first time I flew, and I flew alone. However, my mother was allowed to escort me all the way to my seat on the plane. (That really wan't necessary, mom.) It was Ozark Airlines from Springfield to Indianapolis in the middle of summer. My sister and her then husband were living there. He was stationed at Fort Benjamin Harrison at the time. Anyway, walking across the tarmac from the airport to the plane, I remember being a little disturbed by the fact that the pilot had his window open in the cockpit. But, the pilot turned out to be pretty cool when he buzzed the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Buzzed - as in flew close enough to the ground that you could see the brickwork!!!

As for the old southwest airport, that was way before my time. The buildings are still there. The 217 Skate Shop presently occupies the hangar. Driving south on Chatham Road, turn right into the first driveway past Westchester.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember the airport in Jerome. It was no longer active in the late 50's but people used to use the grass runways to fly model airplanes. I think there used to be a plaque commorating Charles Lindbergh flying in there on his mail runs.

My folks used to take us out to Capital Airport on a hot night (pre A/C) where the wind would always be blowing. We would watch the planes take off and land for a couple of hours before heading for the A&W, Roy's Grill or Steak & Shake.

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Anonymous Chuck Scott said...

I worked for American Airlines (SPI) 59-60. We had 4 thru flights daily with 10 mins gate time. You really had to hussle particularly since we had absolutely no motorized ground equipment. Generator, tail stand, belly stand, baggage carts. You'd unload the inbound luggage into the cart, grab the tongue and pull as fast as you could to baggage claim. Had some great memories though, in 1960 worked both presidential candidates aircrafts. Kennedy flew the family aircraft called "The Caroline" and Nixon came in on American's new 707 jet aircraft. Also got up to and close to many stars coming for the state fair. Great memories. Sadly American pulled out with the coming of the jet age.

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