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Hey, Where’d the Word Airport Come From?

Now that many of us are travelling again, what probably comes to mind when we think of the airport is what a hassle air travel has become. But, do you know where the word "airport” comes from?

Maybe you thought it started in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina where the Wright brothers made the first flight in 1903? Nope.

It was first used in Atlantic City, New Jersey! What? Yep. So, if you want to impress your friends with some aviation trivia or be able to answer a question on Jeopardy, now’s your chance! And here’s the story.

The Wayback Machine (for all of you Mr. Peabody fans...)

According to Wikipedia,

“The word aerodrome derives from Ancient Greek ἀήρ (aḗr), air, and δρόμος (drómos), road or course, literally meaning air course. ... Αεροδρόμιο is the word for airport in Modern Greek, which transliterates as aerodromio.”

Fast Forward to the 20th Century....

The first time the word “airport” was used in reference to a specific location - the airfield in Atlantic City, Atlantic City Municipal Airport, aka Bader Field. Opened in 1910, Bader Field was (and still is) a strip of land surrounded by water on three sides. The word airport wasn’t used until 1919 when journalist Robert Woodhouse used it to describe the place and the seaplane service that ferried passengers back and forth to New York. Because of its location, the airport could accommodate both seaplanes and land planes.

Scheduled commercial airline service continued until 1990, but Bader Field was still used for private airplanes until the late 1990’s when the control tower was removed.

The 21st Century

Sadly, Bader Field is no longer used as an airport. After the airport completely closed in 2006, part of the property became a minor-league baseball stadium. That too, is closed.

Today, Bader Field has been used for concerts, festivals and other events.

Other cool facts about Bader Field

  • The airport was named after Edward L. Bader, the former mayor of Atlantic City during the 1920’s. He got Atlantic City to buy the land that became the airport.

  • Bader Field covers an area of 143 acres at an elevation of 8 feet above sea level. Yep, 8 feet folks.

  • It had two runways: 4/22 measured 2,595 feet long (less than .5 mile) and 11/29 measured 2,948 feet long (just over .5 mile). I flew out of Bader Field a number of times, both commercially and on private planes, and it was always an adventure! Yeesh, the wind!

  • To give you some perspective about the size of Bader Field’s runways

- World’s longest runway: Qamdo Bamda Airport in China is 18,045 feet or 3.3 miles.

- World’s shortest runway: The Caribbean island of Saba, Juancho E Yrausquin Airport claims the world’s shortest runway at 1,312 feet or less than .25 miles. I have flown into Saba numerous times and it’s hair-raising.

- LAX has runways that are 8,925 feet or 1.7 miles.

- Miami International has a runway that is 10,506 feet or just under 2 miles.

- JFK Airport has a runway that’s 14,572 feet, or 2.75 miles.

- The Space Shuttle Landing Facility, has a runway that’s 15,000 feet.

  • The largest plane to fly into or out of Bader Field was a 4-engine De Havilland Canada DHC-7-102, owned by Resorts International Casino.

  • Bader Field was the founding location of the Civil Air Patrol in 1941. Read more about the Civil Air Patrol.

  • There was a football field at Bader Field, where Atlantic City High School played.

  • Bader Field also had tennis courts used by the high school. When my high school tennis team played Atlantic City’s tennis team at Bader Field, I remember stopping play from time to time because the airplanes landing were too low, the noise from the planes was too distracting, or the wind was too strong. True story.

So, there you have it! The origin of the word airport.

Have you heard of Bader Field? Have you ever flown into or out of it? Let me know about it on Facebook or in Traveleidoscope’s comment section!


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