With students now back in school, lessons abound even for adults this fall! The Airport Authority sponsors a regular program of airport education called SAN U to teach employees about commercial aviation history and how airports work. Yours truly recently attended a class and found it to be very enlightening – so much so that I thought it would be great to share some of the interesting facts I learned on the Ambassablog! After all, I used to be a school teacher myself before I began my second career as a planner.
While we rely more heavily on electronic communication, like this blog, nowadays, once upon a time there was only the old-fashioned way to send letters: the U.S. mail. And that was how commercial aviation all got started.
<span style=”font-size: small; font-family: In 1925, the Kelly Airmail Act was passed. That law allowed private airplanes to competitively bid for contracts to deliver mail, an activity once limited to just railroad delivery … and horseback before the trains.
Times were rough in those early days of aviation: some routes had casualty rates as high as 80%! Pilots depended on signal fires to guide their paths, especially at night in the days before the city lights we’re accustomed to. Even today, many of the locations of radar stations across the country that form our current air traffic control system were once signal fire pads.
Because of the hazards of those early days, as well as the need for safety regulations, pilot and mechanic licensing, and air traffic management, in 1926 the Air Commerce Act was passed.
Mail was the priority, but passengers wouldn’t be far behind. What really made the public take notice of the potential for aviation as a means of personal travel was something close to home for San Diego.
In 1927, Charles Lindbergh ordered his famous Spirit of St Louis plane from Ryan Aeronautical in San Diego, and flew it cross-country before embarking on a the first solo non-stop, transatlantic flight – a feat so great that San Diego named its first airfield after the acclaimed aviator. Lindbergh Field was born … as was a proud aviation legacy in America’s Finest City. An exact replica of the famous plane hangs in Terminal 2 West at San Diego International Airport, pictured here.
Tune in for more lessons from SAN U in coming Ambassablog postings!