Photos from the Vault

Photos: See how much SLO County airport has changed

1987: A maintenance crew works on several of the Wings West/American Eagle fleet on Nov. 19, 1987. Wings West/American Eagle once had headquarters in San Luis Obispo with 250 employees. They maintained their fleet of aircraft at the San Luis Obispo airport.
1987: A maintenance crew works on several of the Wings West/American Eagle fleet on Nov. 19, 1987. Wings West/American Eagle once had headquarters in San Luis Obispo with 250 employees. They maintained their fleet of aircraft at the San Luis Obispo airport. The Tribune

The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport will celebrate a milestone on Nov. 1: The opening of a new 56,000-square-foot terminal.

Here’s a look back at some of the other big moments in the airport’s history, as well as how McChesney Field has changed over the years.

»» Read: Take a peek inside the SLO airport’s new terminal

Did you know?

▪  The airport opened in 1939 and was run by the military until after World War II.

▪  After the war, Southwest Airlines started passenger service in December 1946.

▪  The airport has hosted politicians of all political stripes: Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson stopped at SLO County airport in 1956. Republican icon Ronald Reagan visited often as California’s governor in the 1960s. Author-turned-politician Gore Vidal visited in 1982.

▪  The airport expanded and trained pilots during World War II and now hosts air shows that feature the 1940s aircraft.

▪  It was once home to a San Luis Obispo-founded airline, Swift Aire.

▪  In the 1960s, the airport was used so infrequently that it could be shut down for hours at a time to run road races.

In photos: A history of San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport

1956 05-07 Stevenson
1956: Mayor Timothy O’Reilly in glasses next to presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson Monday, May 7, 1956, in San Luis Obispo. History Center of San Luis Obispo County

1963 08-18 road race
About 5,000 race fans turned out for the sixth annual road race at the San Luis Obispo airport on Aug. 18, 1963. The event was sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Junior Chamber of Commerce and the California Sports Car Club. There were about 200 entries, with many imported convertible cars. David Middlecamp The Tribune

1963 SLO Airport
1963: San Luis Obispo Airport and Islay Hill. The terminal is where the Spirit of San Luis restaurant is now. The airport did not have a tower. Tribune archives

1966 Reagan airport64089
1966: Ronald Reagan campaigning in the Central Coast area at the San Luis Obispo airport. He won the election for California governor. Tribune archives

1966 Reagan handshake
1966: Ronald Reagan campaigning on the Central Coast for California governor. At left is state Sen. Vernon L. Sturgeon. Tribune archives

1969 03-18 Swift-Aire10
1969: Swift Aire’s “Executive” plane is on the flight line for San Luis Obispo duty on March 18, 1969. This nine-passenger plane made two roundtrips to Sacramento. The airport terminal used to be what is now the Spirit of San Luis restaurant. Tribune archives

1982 05-28 gore vidal64091
1982: Gore Vidal visits San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly while campaigning for the Democratic nomination for governor on May 25, 1982. Tony Hertz The Tribune

1982 12-01 airplane wedding
1982: Former Swift Aire pilot Fredd Driggs and Martha Estrada are greeted by friends after their wedding aboard one of the planes on Dec. 1, 1982. Tony Hertz The Tribune

1983 07-01 slo airport cons_1
1983: Construction on San Luis Obispo airport terminal that will be retired Nov. 1, 2017, when a new, larger terminal opens. Wayne Nicholls The Tribune

1987 11-19 Wings West-American Eagle01308
1987: A maintenance crew works on several of the Wings West/American Eagle fleet on Nov. 19, 1987. Wings West/American Eagle once had headquarters in San Luis Obispo with 250 employees. They maintained their fleet of aircraft at the San Luis Obispo airport. Tony Hertz The Tribune

1987 11-19 Wings West-American Eagle01312
1987: Beth Silva sprays the wing of a plane while washing it outside a giant hangar at McChesney Field in San Luis Obispo on Nov. 19, 1987. The maintenance crew works nightly shifts that begin at 9:30 p.m. Wings West/American Eagle once had headquarters in San Luis Obispo with 250 employees. Tony Hertz The Tribune

1987 11-19 Wings West-American Eagle01316
1987: Wings West/American Eagle once had headquarters at the San Luis Obispo airport, with 250 employees. Tony Hertz The Tribune

2006 06-21 San Luis Obispo airport64092
2006: A view of the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

2006 09-28 San Luis Obispo airport64093
2006: Gary Sparks pilots a Cessna Turbo 182 over the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport on Sept. 28, 2006. Aaron Lambert The Tribune

2007 05-09 San Luis Obispo Airport
2007: World War II-era bombers parked at the San Luis Obispo County airport. From left: B-17 flying fortress, B-24 Liberator and B-25 Mitchell. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

2007 8-18 airport64094
2007: A 1937 Lockheed Electra 12A was on display at Airport Day at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport on Aug. 18, 2007. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

2009 01-23 San Luis Obispo airport64095
2009: Spectators watch as a Boeing 737-400 carrying the San Francisco Symphony taxis into position after landing at the San Luis Obispo airport on Jan. 23, 2009. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

2015 11-25 San Luis Obispo airport64096
2015: An airplane flies over a full rainbow as it lands at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport on Nov. 25, 2015. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Airport_2
Central Coast residents traveling to and from Seattle on Alaska Airlines will have to use smaller carry-on luggage beginning in June 4, 2018. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Airport
2017: Work continues on the San Luis Obispo County regional airport terminal expansion on May 23, 2017. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Airport_3
2017: A look at the ticket counter in the new San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport terminal in San Luis Obispo in October. The new terminal opens Nov. 1, 2017. Laura Dickinson ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

Airport_5
2017: A view of the new SLO County airport terminal during a preview in October. The terminal opens Nov. 1, 2017. Laura Dickinson ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

Airport_4
2017: People walk out of the front entrance of the new San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport terminal during a preview in October. It opens Nov. 1, 2017. Laura Dickinson ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

David Middlecamp: 805-781-7942, @DavidMiddlecamp

Visit www.sanluisobispo.com/photos-from-the-vault to see old photos and read selected archives.

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The new San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport terminal's official opening date is Nov. 1, 2017. The facility is 56,000 square feet — almost 40,000 square feet larger than the existing terminal. High ceilings and a new outdoor courtyard are among

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The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport's new $39.5 million terminal is expected to be complete and open for incoming flights Nov. 1, 2017. Here's a look at the inside and outside of the new building in a SLO County promotional video.

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