Port Columbus 90th Anniversary
Port Columbus 90th Anniversary in July 2019 attracted hundreds for chance to tour the original air terminal and support “Hangar One Celebration”
On Saturday, July 13, 2019, the non-profit Ohio Air & Space Hall of Fame and Museum (OASHOF) partnered in events marking the 90th anniversary of Port Columbus; its original air terminal and Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT), both starting service on July 8, 1929. With planning support from the Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA), the OASHOF collaborated with the Columbus Historical Society, Columbus Landmarks, Ohio History Connection, and Preserve Original Columbus Air Terminal (POCAT) in hosting the milestone celebration on the southeast corner of the former Port Columbus, now John Glenn International Airport.
A free-to-the-public OCAT open house featured displays set up on the first and second floors chronicling the original terminal’s colorful history along with that of early Central Ohio aviation personalities, sites and milestones. Throughout the day, event volunteers helped over a thousand visitors tour the terminal and answered their questions about the exhibits, photos and artifacts on display. Several organizations also marked that month’s 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and Ohioan Neil Armstrong taking man’s first steps on the moon.
OASHOF’s Executive Director, Ron Kaplan, and trustee George O’Donnel manned a booth at the entrance where they fielded hundreds of inquiries about plans to transform OCAT into a civic showpiece and the OASHOF’s new home. They were heartened by the diversity and enthusiasm of visitors, including some who had worked in the terminal and had not been in it since it ceased airport operations in 1958. Several guests insisted on making donations, on the spot, as well as pledging photos, artifacts and future support to the OASHOF.
That evening the celebration transitioned to Hangar One for a ticketed event that featured food, beverages, guest speakers, and aircraft and automobile displays. Proceeds were shared by the supporting non-profit historical organizations. With Tom Kromer of POCAT serving as emcee, presentations were made by representatives of the Walt Disney Company who shared the story of their restoring the Grand Central Air Terminal, TAT’s western terminus in Glendale, California; pilot and historian, Robert Kirk, author of both the TAT history, “Flying the Lindbergh Line: Then and Now,” and the recently released “The Building of an Airport: Port Columbus;” and the OASHOF’s Ron Kaplan, who shared both plans for the OCAT renovation and the OASHOF’s statewide education mission.
Just outside the hangar door was a display of restored antique aircraft and autos whose owners graciously facilitated their display for the evening. These included a 1940 Waco UPF-7; a North American P-51D Mustang; and a 1980 Cessna 180 (similar to the type flown by record-setting Columbus pilot, Jerrie Mock, when in 1964 she became the first woman to fly solo around the world, from and to Port Columbus Airport. Jerrie’s sister was among those attending the celebration!); and a brand new Citation Latitude business jet from airport neighbor, NetJets.
Everyone agreed that they look forward to an even bigger OASHOF celebration on the 100th anniversary of Port Columbus in 2029!
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Ron Kaplan, Executive Director
Ohio Air & Space Hall of Fame and Museum