1 Nov /13


The Wright brothers didn’t complete the first power-driven flight until 1903, but forward-thinking New Yorkers had already begun making plans for safe places to land. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle of 10 April 1902 dared to dream that “New York will be the greatest airport in the world”, and interest soon spread across the Atlantic. In 1914 the Times newspaper saw a future in which “every town of importance will need an airport as it now needs a railway station”.

The word airport was first applied to a specific location in a 1919 newspaper article, describing Bader Field, a site in Atlantic City. The airport description fitted well. Bader Field was a strip of land surrounded by water on three sides. It opened to aircraft in 1910 but didn’t take the airport name until journalist Robert Woodhouse used it to describe the venue and the seaplane service that ferried passengers to New York and back.

The romance of flight soon captured public imagination. In 1927 the first ever Academy Award for Best Picture was won by “Wings”, a silent film about aviators. That same year, Charles Lindbergh astonished the world with his non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic. As the first person in history to spend one day in New York and the next in Paris, Lindbergh became a symbol of the possibilities opened up by powered flight, and in the decades that followed new airports dotted the globe.

By the end of 2012, the world had 43,794 airports, and the experience of air travel, once so exotic and thrilling, has become mere routine. Sadly, that list of 43,794 did not include Bader Field. Modern day airports and the giant craft they accommodate simply left it behind. Its runways, just under 3,000 feet long, were too small to accommodate jets and the humble outpost where it all began was permanently closed in September 2006.

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