Big Houston airport marks 40 years

June 8, 2009 5:11:43 PM PDT
Monday marked the 40 year anniversary since the opening of what is now known around the world as Bush Intercontinental Airport. It's a place where travelers from all over the globe visit Houston even if it's just for a quick layover. The big airport was previously named the Houston Intercontinental Airport. It was built on suburban ranch land and ushered the Bayou City into the modern jet age. The international airport was comprised of two terminals and was built to supplement Hobby Airport.

"The cities that have air transportation and air mail are the cities that grow and prosper," said AJ High who was one of the first pilots to fly into the new airport.

In its first year, five million passengers travelled through what was billed as the world's most modern airport. Even so, it was in the middle of nowhere at the time.

"It was awful," said Dixie Franklin who used to work at that airport. "You might as well go to Lufkin as to go to the Intercontinental Airport when I first worked here."

These days, 43 million passengers move through five terminals. Now the FAA is studying air traffic capacity and the possible of new runways. One of those could take houses in a new neighborhood.

"It breaks my heart because we are 58 years old and you take that from us, what are we going to do," asked Deborah Baack who could lose her home.

That study could take at least two years and there could be a chance that no new runways would be required. If the past 40 years are any indication though, Houston's thirst for air travel could lead to more expansion.

"There is no telling considering this is Space City, I think we have everything in the world going for us here," Franklin said.

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