Grand Central Airport (1928-1959)


Grand Central Airport in Los Angeles had the first paved runway west of the Rocky Mountains. It was also the departure point of the first transcontinental airline service in the U.S.

After opening in 1928 for passenger airline service, Grand Central Airport hosted the departure of the first airline service between Southern California and New York City, piloted by none other than Charles A. Lindbergh in 1929.

In the following year, the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport opened, and would slowly eclipse Grand Central as the major airport in the area.

In 1933, 2 pilots, New Jersey surgeon Albert Forsythe and Charles Anderson, landed at Grand Central Airport, becoming the first African Americans to complete a transcontinental flight. The historic journey led to the creation of a famed World War II corps of black aviators.

During World War II, the airport became a center of military activity. Thousands of pilots were trained at the airport for the British RAF. The airport also served as base of operations for Army Air Corps P-38 Lightings that provided air protection for Los Angeles at the onset of the war.

After the end of the war, the airport's main runway was shortened to allow for a connecting road between San Fernando Road and Riverside Drive. This doomed the airport, and in 1959 it was shut down, around the same time commerical airlines were moving to LAX.

After its demise, the airport was eventually acquired by Prudential Insurance and rebuilt it as an industrial park. The Walt Disney Company leased space there for its Imagineering division, eventually purchasing the land in 1997. Disney plans to transform the site into a tree-shaded media campus and restore the historic Grand Central Air Terminal and control tower (all that remains of the old airport) as a visitor center. The air terminal is located at 1310 Air Way in Glendale.


Sources

http://www.losangelesalmanac.com/topics/Transport/tr62.htm

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