1928: The Inauguration of a Record-Setting Airport in California

August 16, 1928

San Diego Municipal Airport-Lindbergh Field was dedicated. The construction of this California-based airport, made possible by a bond issue passed by the city government of San Diego, had been inspired in large part by Charles Lindbergh’s historic solo transatlantic flight the previous year. 

The site of the new facility was near the airstrip for the Ryan Airlines factory where Lindbergh had test-flighted his plane Spirit of St. Louis before piloting it between New York and France. Lindbergh not only encouraged the construction of San Diego’s new airport, but agreed to lend his name to it. 

As part of the inaugural festivities for the airport, there had been plans for a 400-plane flyover in the skies above that location. Due to inclement weather, however, this flyover was ultimately reduced to 222 planes. A total of 140 of those planes belonged to the U.S. Navy, while the remaining 82 were U.S. Army aircraft.

The facility, which had its original terminal on the northeast side of the field along Pacific Highway, was the first federally certified airfield to serve all aircraft types (including seaplanes). The airport achieved “international airport” status in 1934. San Diego International Airport, which also remains widely known as Lindbergh Field, is the busiest single-runway commercial airport in the United States. 

(The above 2013 photo features a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis that is on display at the airport.)

Photo Credit: Billy Hathorn (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)

Additional information on the opening of San Diego Municipal Airport-Lindbergh Field is available at https://www.sandiego.gov/digital-archives-photos/dedication-lindbergh-field-1928

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