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FFF: Before They Were Airports

Major airports cover hundreds of acres of land in order to accommodate the miles of landing strips, terminals and concourses. Have you ever wondered what this land was before it became a home to our major airlines?  Much of the land that is now occupied by the world’s largest airports once consisted of auto racetracks, golf courses and farmlands.

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is one of the busiest in the world. But before 1925, the land was an abandoned auto racetrack that was used as a make-shift landing strip for local airplanes. The mayor finally signed a lease committing the city to develop an airfield in the 1930s.

In 1942, Idlewild Airport was established, named after Idlewild Golf Course. This airport, named for the former golf course, was officially renamed in 1963 to John F Kennedy Airport. This is not an unusual trend; only a minimal amount of work is needed to be done for a golf course to be converted to an airport. Trees and bushes are simply cleared from the perimeter of the course and its bunkers are leveled.

Most common though, is the conversion from farmland to airports, which is logical due to the flat elevation of farmland. In the 1950’s the area of land currently home to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport was once a farming community. Local peach farmer, Paul Wood, owned and operated a 2,600-tree peach orchard. He and his family lived in a home that stood where the GSP runway is today.

– The Terminal

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