Kansas City’s Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport marked its 80th anniversary last month.
Charles Lindbergh dedicated the Kansas City Municipal Airport, as it was known then, in 1927, less than three months after his historic flight.
In 1928, a passenger terminal was built for Transcontinental Air Transport and Western Air Express. By April 1929, MKC was home to more airlines than any other airport in the nation, giving it the title “Air Hub of America.”
TAT merged with Maddux Airlines and Western Air Express to become Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc., or TWA. When appointed to lead a committee to select TWA’s world headquarters, Lindbergh convinced the committee to choose Kansas City. The original TWA headquarters, built in 1932, still stands today as home for Executive Beechcraft, one of the nation’s premier FBOs.
Growth continued through the years until the 1970s when MKC could no longer accommodate the larger planes and increased jet and passenger traffic. Kansas City International Airport opened in November 1972. In 1977 MKC’s name was changed to Kansas City Downtown Airport and then again to Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport in 2002.
Today, MKC serves more than 83,000 aircraft each year and generates more than $280 million in annual economic impact. More than 200 aircraft are based at the airport, which has 11 large community hangars. Construction of a 12th is underway. Also planned is a complex that will include T-hangars, box hangars and tie-down positions, a self-serve fueling station and an outdoor aircraft washing area.
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