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The History of Oakland Airport you may not know

Ed Downing 
Vice President, CLASS  

Aerial view of Oakland Airport in mid 1940s

In 1925, the city of Oakland began to consider construction of an airport to serve Bay Area communities. In 1927, James Dole, head of the Dole pineapple corporation, offered a $25,000 prize to the first pilot who could fly nonstop from the west coast of California to Hawaii. What became known as the Dole Air Race prompted the city of Oakland to purchase 680 acres of land and build what was at that time the longest single runway in the world (7020 ft.). Construction of this runway was completed in just 21 days and the airport was dedicated on September 17, 1927 by none other than Charles Lindberg. Eleven aircraft entered the Dole Air Race. Before the race was completed, 6 aircraft and 10 lives were lost. Two aircraft made it to Hawaii only to find that this feat had already been accomplished by two Army Air Corps lieutenants with very familiar last names…Lt.’s Hegenberger and Maitland. On March 17, 1937 Amelia Earhart took off from Oakland headed west in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. During World War Two, Oakland Airport was converted to Naval Air Station Oakland and used for transpacific cargo flights to support the war. After the war, Boeing and United Airlines established flight training and maintenance bases at Oakland. In 1962, millions of tons of bay fill were used to construct terminal 1 and Oakland’s 10,000 ft. main commercial runway.

So, here we are 60 years after that terminal was built and that runway went into service. Today Oakland Airport has 2 terminals, more than 241,000 flight operations and handles more than 13 million passengers every year. Almost 1.5 million tons of cargo pass through this airport annually. Expansion is in the future for the Oakland Airport. As always, our goal is to work with the airport and the FAA to mitigate the impact of this growth on our communities. We continue to have three primary areas of focus: (1) Work with the airport and the FAA to limit the number of jet departures from the North Field runways (2) Work with the FAA to implement procedures that will take departing commercial jets further away from the Harbor Bay and Alameda shorelines (3) Closely monitor growth by participating in the Port of Oakland’s creative process for airport expansion.

We continue to greatly appreciate your continued support of our efforts.

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