Most airport names are self-explanatory: Denver International Airport, or Los Angeles International Airport, for example. But what about all those major airports that have been named after major figures? Ever been to one and wondered about the person they’re named after, and you didn’t know because you weren’t from that area? Here are those stories.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
The Atlanta airport and Delta Airlines hub services more than a million passengers each year. The former Atlanta Municipal Airport underwent a major expansion in 1977 during the term of Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson. It officially re-opened in 1980 and was renamed after Jackson and the late, air travel-promoting Atlanta mayor William Hartsfield.
O’Hare International Airport
A major hub for domestic and international flight, Chicago’s O’Hare has at some points been the busiest and most traveled airport in the world. It opened in 1945 on the former Orchard Field but was renamed in 1949 to honor a World War II hero. Edward “Butch” O’Hare was a U.S. Navy flying ace and Medal of Honor recipient. In February 1942, O’Hare attacked nine enemy bombers flying toward his aircraft carrier—he shot most of them down. O’Hare died in 1943 when his plane was shot down by Japanese torpedo bombers. O’Hare had grown up in Chicago.
William P. Hobby Airport
Houston International Airport (later renamed George Bush Intercontinental Airport) opened in 1969, making Houston’s first airport, the smaller William P. Hobby Airport, its secondary portal to the skies. Hobby has been operational since 1927. Its namesake: Texas governor, lieutenant governor, and Houston Post publisher William P. Hobby.
London Heathrow Airport
The airport just outside of London is the third-busiest in the world, and one of the largest, covering nearly five square miles. It sits on a parcel of land that for hundreds of years was a small village called Heathrow. It was completely demolished in favor of the airport.
Toronto Pearson International Airport
Lester Pearson was one of Canada’s most important statesmen. He served as prime minister from 1963 to 1968, and prior to that was a diplomat who organized the U.N. Emergency Force that resolved the 1956 Suez Canal Crisis which involved Israel and Egypt. (For his efforts, he won the Nobel Peace Prize.) While the Toronto International Airport, Canada’s busiest, opened in 1939, it was renamed after Pearson in 1984.