1937: First passenger flight was early

About 1,000 people turned out to greet the arrival of an Eastern Air Lines Lockheed Electra on May 17, 1937, heralding the first scheduled passenger service at Charlotte’s Municipal Airport. The 26-seat, DC-2 picked up passengers and then made its way to New York.

The Charlotte News reported that “the ship arrived over the airport about five minutes before its scheduled time and circled about the area before dropping gently down from the north to a perfect landing. The crowd was silent as the plane taxied to a designated point near the administration building, and then there was a concerted but orderly rush of men, women and children, public officials, officers in uniforms and workmen in overalls to form a wall of humanity around the plane.”

Mayor Ben Douglas, for whom the airport was later named, was unable to attend the 1937 ceremony. He was at Mercy Hospital with an infected throat, “not resting comfortably,” his attache reported. Four years later, a passenger terminal was added and the facility was renamed Douglas Municipal Airport in honor of Douglas. The name lives on today, as Charlotte Douglas International Airport.