1941: Hoover/National/Reagan Airport was born, Happy Birthdayshe’s older, though

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
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(apologies for reusing this cake from the LHR LXX birthday on June1, 2016 article)

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Ronald Reagan Washington National AirportDon’t tell anyone, but she’s actually older than 75, though the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority declared that Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport’s celebrates its 75th anniversary on June 16, 2016. The airport was really “born” in 1926 and has had operations since then. She’s really 90!

If you dig back into the history of what now is known as DCA, you will find that Hoover Field opened as the first airport near the Capital with a terminal in 1926. Since congestion was not a problem then, the airport’s single runway had a traffic crossing. A street intersected the tarmac and a policeman stopped the cars when a plane approached or departed.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

By Historic American Engineering Record – The left image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID hhh.va1677. Right image by Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress.

Hard to believe, but in 1927 a private owner opened Washington Airport adjacent to Hoover. Three years later, the Depression’s hard times brought the competitors to the financial reality that two airports should merge to become one- Washington–Hoover Airport.

Even consolidated, the safety of this facility was poor—surrounded by high-tension electrical wires, obstructed by a high smokestack on one approach and a dump nearby. True to the history of Washington airports, while 37 studies found that a new airport MUST be built, there was no movement until Congress deleted a statutory prohibition against the federal government from owning/operating an airport. President Roosevelt then funded the construction in 1940and the project was completed in 1941—thus the claim that the lady is only 75.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

MWAA has an interesting full history of this airport, which surrounded by National Park Service land (what’s the other?). Here are the highlights of DCA, its operations, commercial service, building development, ground transit additions/revisions, policies and legal authority.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

1938 President Roosevelt selected the site for the new Washington National Airport.
1940 Dedication of the Washington National Airport by President Roosevelt.
1941 Airport opened for business June 16th with one hangar completed and five under construction.
1949 First fixed-based operator (private aircraft service business) opened for general aviation business.
1950 South extension of Main Terminal completed.
1956 Runway 9/27 closed, became taxiway Alpha.
1958 North Terminal opened. Pan American Airlines first jet (Boeing 707) christened at National Airport.
1964 Construction of air cargo building.
1965 Construction of United Airlines holdrooms and ticketing facilities completed.
1966 Jet aircraft began operating at National Airport.
1968 Opened new American Airlines’ facility and gates.
1970 Commuter Terminal Opened. NW/TWA facilities opened.
1973 Start of Metrorail construction on the airport.
1977 One-way road system placed into operation. Metrorail service to the airport began.
1982 Nighttime noise level limitations policy put into effect.
1986 Bill transferring the operation of National and Dulles to a new regional Airports Authority was signed by President Reagan.
1987 The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority began operations.
1989 Interim Terminal (Hangar 11) opened. Commuter Terminal closed.
1991 First parking garage (Garage A) opened on the airport on November 26.
1993 Construction of the New Terminal started.
1996 Parking Garage B/C opened.
1997 A new Airport Traffic Control Tower was commissioned by FAA on May 12.
1997 Terminal B/C opened on July 27.
1998 Abingdon Plantation site restored and Exhibit Hall opened.
1999 Completed improvements to Mt. Vernon Bridge Trail.
2001 Reagan National Airport reopens to commercial aircraft operations on October 4 after being closed for 23 days following September 11th terrorist attacks.
2004 The airside façade (facing the runways) of Historic Terminal A is restored.
2005 With many new restrictions in place, the federal government allowed General Aviation to return to Reagan National for the first time since September 11, 2001.
2007 18.7 million passengers travel at Reagan National Airport – a new record.
2008 The landside façade (facing the roadways) of Historic Terminal A is restored.
2010 A 1400-space expansion of the parking garages is completed. The former American Airlines ticketing lobby in Terminal A is renovated to become the new JetBlue ticketing lobby.
2011 A 9-foot bronze statue of Ronald Reagan is dedicated along the Airport entrance roadway on November 1.
2012 Projects to resurface Runway 1/19, install new Runway 1 approach equipment and extend the Runway Safety Area are completed.

In 2014, the renovation of Terminal A was completed, adding new lighting, new floors and an expanded security mezzanine area.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

We promise not to tell anyone what’s your real age!!!


ARTICLE: Reagan National Airport 75th Anniversary Celebrations and Events

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