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Facts about West Palm Beach Airport including Trump, JFK

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Palm Beach International Airport has been around for almost a century and offers a convenient, less-traveled location than the nearby, busier and more hectic airports of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Miami.

PBIA has three runways, the longest being 10,001 feet. The airport actually has a longer baggage runway at 12,516 linear feet, or 2.37 miles, on which baggage travels from the counter on the third level to the aircraft on level 1.

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For passenger support and convenience, the airport travel berth is located at 2050 Belvedere Road, on the southwest corner of Florida Mango and Belvedere Road. It has free Wi-Fi, arrival / departure screens, Dunkin ‘Donuts, 7-11, mobile gasoline, car wash, electric car charging stations and parking for mobile phones.

Here are five more facts you probably didn’t know about West Palm Beach Airport:

1. Palm Beach International Airport had a different name

Palm Beach International Airport, or PBI, was inaugurated on December 19, 1936 as Morrison Field. The cost of construction was approximately $ 175,000. It carried this name until a few years after World War II, when the County Commissioners Council in 1948 voted to change the name in an attempt to boost tourism.

Morrison Field’s first commercial flight was an Eastern Air Lines flight to New York. The airline had daily flights between Miami and New York, making stops in West Palm Beach and 11 other cities. The trip lasted over 13 hours and a one-way ticket cost $ 81.78.

2. So who is the “Morrison” of Morrison Field?

Unlike some army officers who thought Morrison was a decorated general, the airfield was named after Grace K. Morrison, secretary to Palm Beach architect Maurice Fatio. Morrison became interested in flying and received lessons on an airstrip built by lawyer and two-time West Palm Beach mayor, Murray D. Carmichael. She will become the first “aviator” in the region, a term used at the time to describe a woman aviator, to fly solo on June 19, 1932.

Morrison pushed West Palm Beach to seek federal dollars to build a bigger, safer airport. When her persistence didn’t work, she went to Washington DC herself. Tragically, she never saw the fruits of her labor. Three months before the airport opened, Morrison died in a car crash near Titusville on her way to Auburn University with her half-brother.

3. The airport played a role in two wars

Morrison Field served commercial passengers for four years before the US Army Air Corps began to modernize it for military purposes, officially activating the site in 1941. Residents at the time remembered the bombers constantly flying over the Brazilian avenue. Some airmen took off from Morrison Field to Normandy during the D-Day invasion.

P-35 plane of the 49th Pursuit Group flying over Morrison Field, the precursor to Palm Beach International Airport, in 1941. [U.S. Air
Force Historical Research Agency, Historical Society of Palm Beach County]

After the end of World War II, military operations slowly shifted to Mobile, Alabama. The airport was returned to county jurisdiction for commercial use and was renamed. But in September 1951, the airport was reactivated for military use for the Korean War. The airport could have become a permanent Air Force base, but Palm Beach County regained control in 1959. Over 45,000 airmen were trained or flew from Morrison Field during WWII world, and 23,000 more during the Korean War.

4. More than half of the flights departing from PBI today are private jets.

General aviation, as opposed to commercial flights like Delta or United, accounted for about 63% of all 9,049 flights departing from PBI in August. Would you expect less, with some of the wealthiest of us living just 7 miles away? This figure increased in the first months of the pandemic, as commercial flights almost came to a screeching halt. As of May 2020, 86%, or 5,766 of PBI’s 6,688 flights, were general aviation.

Business jets parked at Palm Beach International Airport.  About 40 percent of traffic at PBIA is made up of private planes.

The airport is home to three fixed-base operators, or companies that provide refueling, hangars, maintenance and other services for private planes. These operators are Atlantic Aviation, Jet Aviation and Signature Flight Support. PBI also has a terminal for NetJets, a timeshare company through which customers can purchase part of a private jet depending on how often they intend to fly.

Palm Beach County also operates three general aviation airports in Lantana, Pahokee and west of Palm Beach Gardens.

5. The Air Force One of the two presidencies landed frequently at the PBI

Donald Trump – real estate mogul, reality TV personality, and ultimately the 45th President of the United States – has often visited Mar-a-Lago during his presidency. A school bus wall lined a fence at PBI when he visited to thwart any potential attack from the road. But before his private club was dubbed the Winter White House, the name was used for a property six miles north: the Kennedy family estate.

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President, would spend Christmas and Easter at 1095 N. Ocean Blvd. as a child as well as during his presidency, during which he spent portions of 104 days in Palm Beach. Kennedy was known to drive around town on his own and stop at local stores. A Cold War era bunker colloquially known as the Kennedy Bunker is a short walk from Peanut Island.

Information from the Palm Beach County Historical Society, Palm Beach International Airport, and the Palm Beach Post Archives was used in this report.

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Cory E. Barnes

The author Cory E. Barnes

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