With the holiday season upon us, travel will be a more and more important aspect of our daily lives. Flying home to families, family flying home to us… Whether you’re coming or going, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the planning and execution of a successful trip. And how often do we stop to look at how we are getting there? At the miracle that is air travel. And at the history of the very methods we use to get from one place to another. Today, we want to take a look at our nearby gem, John Wayne International Airport.
What started as a small flying school in 1923 has become the second busiest airport in the greater Los Angeles area, with more than 10 million travelers passing through each year. In 1935, Howard Hughes took off from there on his way to setting a world speed record of 352.39 MPH. Though the average cruising speed of commercial airliners today is about 575MPH, Hughes made an impressive showing in those early days of aviation. During World War II, the field served as the Santa Ana Army Air Base. After the war, the landing strip was used as a drag racing venue, making it the world’s first commercial drag strip. In 1964, the airfield got an upgrade to a new, longer runway, which measured 5,701 feet. But even with this lengthening, it is still one of the shortest of any major airport in the US.
One might think that living near to an airport would be loud and distracting, but luckily, legislation was passed that prohibits planes from taking off or landing during nighttime hours. Due to noise restrictions and the short runway, pilots have to take off at almost full power and at a much steeper incline than at other airports, making John Wayne International either the scariest or most exciting airport to take off from, depending on your point of view.
After spending many years known simply as the Orange County Airport, the name was changed in 1979 to commemorate The Duke himself, John Wayne. Shortly after, a 9-foot bronze statue of the movie star was erected to welcome visitors. Over the years, John Wayne Airport has become incredibly popular. They were even rated the #1 Large Airport in America in customer satisfaction in a survey by J.D. Power & Associates. When you are doing something as stressful as traveling, every little detail makes a big difference. The efficiency, cleanliness, and friendliness of an airport can make a trip good or bad. John Wayne is one of the best!
View this post on Instagram
Today marks the 36th Anniversary (Nov. 4, 1982) when the nine-foot statue of late actor John Wayne was dedicated to the @ocgov. The statue is located on the Arrival (lower) Level in the center of the Riley Terminal and rests atop a pedestal covered in the same marble that graces the entire facility. If you’re visiting JWA as a traveler or picking up guests, take some time to visit the statue and learn more about its history. #JohnWayneAirport #FlySNA #FlyJWA #airport #airporthistory
Whether you are heading out for the holidays or your family or friends are heading in, John Wayne International is a great option! Do you have a John Wayne story? Let us know on Facebook or Instagram. And of course, follow our blog here for more Orange County tidbits.