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18 Airports Named After People (Including a Cartoonist)

If you’re doing any air travel this winter, chances are you’ll end up spending quite a bit of time sitting in airports. During those layovers, your mind may wander. Who is this O’Hare fellow? What made LaGuardia worthy of an airport? How about Hartsfield and Jackson? Here’s a look at some namesake airports whose origins you might not have known.

1. O’Hare International Airport (Chicago)

ohareO’Hare International Airport is named after Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare, a World War II flying ace for the Navy. O’Hare won the Medal of Honor for engaging a group of Japanese torpedo bombers in a dogfight during an attempted attack on the aircraft carrier Lexington. O’Hare and his wingman gunned down three Japanese bombers and damaging several others to ward off the potentially catastrophic attack. Sadly, O’Hare later crashed while leading a dangerous night mission off of an aircraft carrier to ward off Japanese bombers.
If you ever have a delay at O’Hare—and if you’re flying through O’Hare, you’re going to have a delay—check out Lieutenant Commander O’Hare’s restored F6F Hellcat in Terminal 2.

Another interesting O’Hare fact: his father was a lawyer who was originally friendly with Al Capone before turning against the gangster. Unknown gunmen mowed down the elder O’Hare while he was in his car in 1939, and just last week the Chicago Police Department reopened the long-cold case in an attempt to uncover the murderers’ true identities.

2. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport used to just be named after William B. Hartsfield, whose stints in office from 1937 to 1941 and 1942 to 1962 made him the longest-serving mayor Atlanta’s ever had. In 2003, the city amended the airport’s name to also honor Maynard Jackson, the Atlanta mayor who helped modernize and rebuild the facility during the 1970s and ‘80s.

3. Logan International Airport (Boston)

Logan International Airport in Boston also takes its name from a military hero. General Edward Lawrence Logan was a Boston native and Harvard grad who served in the Spanish-American War and later commanded infantry in World War I.

4. Charlotte/Douglas International Airport

Charlotte/Douglas International Airport bears the name of Ben Elbert Douglas, Sr., Charlotte’s mayor from 1935 to 1941. Douglas actually made his big money in the fur trade. He owned Douglas Furs, a Charlotte-based furrier, and sold the government a method for cleaning the fleece trim of bomber jackets.

5. McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas)

McCarran International Airport welcomes gamblers to Las Vegas. The slot-machine-filled airport is named in honor of Pat McCarran, who served as a Democratic Senator from Nevada from 1933 to 1954. He seems like a somewhat curious character to have a namesake international airport, since he made a name for himself in the Senate as a hard-line anti-Communist who favored strict entry quotas into the United States.

6. LaGuardia Airport (New York)

LaGuardia Airport, the smallest of the New York area’s three major airports, bears the name of Fiorello LaGuardia, who served as New York’s mayor from 1935 to 1945 and oversaw the airport’s construction.

7. Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport

snoopy-air
Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport is much smaller than the other airports on this list, but how can you not love an airport named after the creator of Peanuts? The airport’s logo even features Snoopy in his full flying-ace getup. The airport is located in Santa Rosa, CA, where Schulz lived for 30-plus years.

8. William P. Hobby Airport (Houston)

The William P. Hobby Airport, Houston’s older, secondary airport, is named after a former newspaperman who served as Texas’ governor from 1917 to 1921. The city could have just as easily named the airport after his wife, though. In 1953, Oveta Culp Hobby became the first Secretary of what would become the Department of Health and Human Services.

9. Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (Alabama)

Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport got its name in 2008, when the old Birmingham International Airport tweaked its existing moniker to honor Fred Shuttlesworth, an influential civil rights leader. Shuttlesworth was instrumental in founding the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and planning the Birmingham Campaign in 1963.

10. Jackson-Evers International Airport (Mississippi)

Jackson-Evers International Airport follows in the same vein as Birmingham-Shuttlesworth; the Mississippi airport is named after civil rights activist Medgar Evers.

11. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport

Anchorage named its airport after longtime Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who became internet famous with his “Series of Tubes” speech.

12. Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport

san-jose-airportNorman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport is named after the San Jose native who has been active in a number of government offices, including Secretary of Commerce under Bill Clinton, Secretary of Transportation under George W. Bush, Congressman, and Mayor of San Jose.

13. Bradley International Airport (Connecticut)

Connecticut’s busiest airport bears the name of Lt. Eugene M. Bradley, an Army pilot who crashed his P40 during a training drill when the air field was still a military base. The base’s soldiers led a movement to rename the field after Bradley, and the name stuck even after the conversion to civilian traffic.

14. Eppley Airfield (Omaha)

Eppley Airfield in Omaha is named after late hotel magnate Eugene C. Eppley, but the name is equal parts tribute and thank-you note. When the airport upgraded so it could accommodate jets in 1959, a million dollars from Eppley’s estate helped the cause along.

15. Lambert-St. Louis International Airport

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport also shows that it can’t hurt to be proactive if you want to get your name on an airport. Albert Bond Lambert won a silver medal with the American men’s golf team at the 1904 Olympics, and in 1909 he met the Wright Brothers and bought a plane from them. In 1920 Lambert shelled out $68,000 for a 550-acre plot of land just outside St. Louis and built and maintained an early airport at his own expense. After eight eventful years—Charles Lindbergh took off for Paris from Lambert Field—Lambert sold his airport to the city of St. Louis for the same $68,000 he’d paid for the land.

16. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was quite the birthday present. In 1951, the city of Cleveland officially named the airport after its founder, former city manager William R. Hopkins. The naming ceremony took place on Hopkins’ 82nd birthday.

17. General Mitchell International Airport (Milwaukee)

General Mitchell International Airport takes its name from William “Billy” Mitchell, an American flying ace in World War I who is often referred to as “the father of the modern Air Force.”

18. Washington Dulles International Airport

Washington Dulles International Airport is named after John Foster Dulles, who served as Secretary of State under Eisenhower and helped shape a number of American Cold War policies.

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