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

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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