Los Angeles and Burbank Airports

Both opened in 1930; in 1946 Los Angeles was ready to take its place as the city’s premiere airport.

In 1928, the City of Los Angeles leased Mines Field, an existing airport on 640 acres near Inglewood, for use as a municipal airport. The city took possession of the property on October 1, 1928 and began enlarging and improving the facilities, which were formally dedicated with a 2-day celebration June 7-8, 1930.

Mines Field, Los Angeles

Mines Field dedication, 1930

Meanwhile, the United Airport at Burbank, a 240-acre privately owned facility, had its gala dedication only a few days previously, May 30-June 1, 1930.

United Airport later Burbank dedicated 1930

United Airport dedication, held May 30-June 1, 1930. LAT 5-6-1930

United Airport, Burbank, dedication May 30-June 1, 1930

As the hub for the major commercial airliners, United Airport was the metropolitan area’s main airport through 1946. The facility was renamed Union Air Terminal in 1934.

In late 1940 Union Air Terminal became Lockheed Air Terminal. Lockheed and Vega also had defense plants located here, building airplanes for the war effort.

Lockheed Air terminal

The décor changed, but the Sky Room restaurant-cocktail lounge at Burbank’s airport had been around since it was Union Air Terminal.

The décor changed, but the Sky Room restaurant-cocktail lounge at Burbank’s airport had been around since it was Union Air Terminal.

Vega Airplane Co. broke ground in July 1940 on a 30-acre site adjacent to what was then still Union Air Terminal. The following year, the company became a subsidiary of Lockheed, until the two companies merged in late 1943.

War workers needed by Lockheed and Vega, December 9, 1942.

Lockheed under canvas during World War II.

A “Rosie” Lockheed employee, WWII.

“Lockheed is here to stay.” January 2, 1945.

A Lockheed-built Constellation passenger plane at Burbank, 1945.

After World War II, Lockheed resumed building passenger aircraft that would change commercial air travel in the coming years, and the City began the process of making LAA the main air hub of Los Angeles. By the end of 1946, the major commercial airlines- Western Air, Trans World Airways (TWA), United Air, and Pan American Airways (Pan Am)- were constructing new hangars and terminals in advance of making the move from Burbank.

Los Angeles Airport was also the temporary home of the famous B-17 Flying Fortress, The Swoose, starting in April 1946, after Mayor Bowron, at the prompting of her longtime pilot, local war hero Col. Frank Kurtz, proposed the city purchase her as a war memorial.

Plan for Los Angeles Municipal Airport’s expansion, 10-26-1946

Although building materials shortages hampered the effort, the airport had a new grand opening, December 9, 1946. Western Air, United TWA, American, and the coastal line Southwest Airways had at least some flights operating from Los Angeles. Pan Am delayed its move until early 1947. Even then, however, many flights had to be rerouted to Lockheed due to fog conditions.

Los Angeles Airport was renamed Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in October 1949. Lockheed kept its name until 1967. Today it is Hollywood Airport aka Bob Hope Airport.