1947: A Major Milestone for an Airport in the Bluegrass State

November 15, 1947

Standiford Field airport in Louisville, Kentucky, was opened for commercial flights, replacing Bowman Field as the main airport for the Bluegrass State’s largest city. Bowman Field had been providing plane flights for passengers since 1924. With the introduction of passenger services at Standiford Field, just about all of the commercial airline operations were transferred to the area’s newer and larger airport.

The genesis of Standiford Field can be traced to 1941, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) built a 4,000-foot runway at that site. This air base was subsequently used during World War II for the large number of military aircraft flying to and from the area. In 1946, the federal government handed over the property – including the runway and other infrastructure set up there by the USACE – to the Louisville and Jefferson County Air Board (the present-day Louisville Regional Airport Authority).

Starting in 1947, the three original airlines providing commercial flights at the facility on a regular basis were American, Eastern, and TWA. The cafeteria that had been built on the grounds became the temporary terminal for the new airport, while the three carriers initially used one-time army barracks for their respective operations.

The airport was named for Elisha David Standiford (1831-1887), a Kentucky businessman and public official who strongly advocated for a strong transportation network for the Louisville region. The airport has experienced tremendous growth over the years and is now a key transportation center for much of Kentucky and southern Indiana. An especially huge milestone took place in 1981 when United Parcel Service selected the airport as its main air hub for overnight delivery services. The airport now ranks third in cargo traffic among U.S. airports and seventh among airports throughout the world.

This airport was renamed Louisville International Airport in 1995 to reflect its considerably expanded services and size by that time. Another name change took place in 2019, when the airport was officially redesignated as Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport. Boxing champion Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) was born and raised in Louisville.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on the history of Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, please check out https://www.flylouisville.com/corporate/sdf-history/

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