The History and Origin of Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

by Jordan Knapp

by Jordan Knapp

It's sometimes called Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Detroit Metro Airport, Metro Airport, or simply DTW. It's also the metro Detroit area's only and largest international airport and it's located in Romulus, Mich., a Detroit suburb. The Detroit Metro is a major hub and the operational headquarters for Northwest Airlines as well as its Northwest Airlink partners, Mesaba Airlines, Compass Airlines, and Pinnacle Airlines. The airport is also a hub for Spirit Airlines. Operated by the Wayne County Airport Authority, the airport is one of the nation's most recently expanded and modernized airports, with six major runways, three terminals, 158 gates, and an attached Westin Hotel and conference center. It has maintenance facilities capable of servicing and repairing aircraft as large as the Boeing 747. As of 2006, Detroit Metro Airport is the tenth busiest airport in the United States and the nineteenth busiest airport in the world serving more than 36,000,000 passengers. Metro Airport also serves the Toledo, Ohio, about an hour away.Wayne County authorities began planning for a new airport in the western portions of the county as early as 1927. It was then that the county acquired one square mile of land for an aviation facility, to be called Wayne County Airport, at the corner of Middlebelt and Wick Roads, which is now the northeastern corner of today's airport. Construction was completed in 1929, and the first official landing took place on February 22, 1930. That same year, Thompson Aeronautical Corporation, a forerunner of American Airlines, inaugurated service from Wayne County. And from 1931 until 1945, the airport housed Michigan National Guard operations. The original runway was later decommissioned. However, parts of it remain today as Taxiway Ark.Between 1947 and 1950, officials expanded the airport to become Detroit's primary airport. The airport was renamed Detroit-Wayne Major Airport in 1947 and over the next three years expanded in size as three more runways were built. During this time, most commercial traffic shifted from small Detroit City Airport -- now Coleman Young International Airport -- northeast of downtown Detroit to the larger Willow Run Airport over twenty miles west of the city, and ten miles west of Wayne County Airport.During the early 1950s, Pan-Am and BOAC began operations at Detroit-Wayne Major. 1956 was a major turning point of the growing airport. American Airlines agreed to shift operations to Detroit-Wayne, accompanied by four other carriers. Also that year, the Commercial Aviation Administration, now the FAA, announced the inclusion of Detroit-Wayne in the first group of American airports to receive new long-range radar equipment, enabling the airport to become the first inland airport in the U.S. certified for jet aircraft operations. Also in 1958, the L.C. Smith Terminal was completed to accommodate the new carriers, and the airport was renamed to its present name.During the next decade, the remaining passenger traffic at Willow Run gradually shifted to Detroit Metro Airport, and the North Terminal -- later renamed the Davey Terminal -- opened in 1966 to accommodate the new arrivals. With the growing international traffic, the airport built a third terminal, the Michael Berry International Terminal, in 1974. The last of its original three parallel runways was completed in 1976. A new parallel cross winds runway opened in 1993.Republic Airlines began hub operations in 1984, and its merger with Northwest Airlines in 1986 greatly expanded the hub. Transpacific operations began in 1987 with non-stop flights to Tokyo. The last of Metro's six runways was completed in December 2001. The most recent addition to Metro airport, as well as the most significant, was the opening of the mile-long, 122-gate, $1.2 billion McNamara Terminal in the airport's midfield in 2002.Checker Sedan, www.checkersedan.com, was established in March 2000 and has become the fastest growing chauffeur-driven licensed luxury sedan company in Metropolitan Detroit. Checker Sedan is an affiliate of Soave Enterprises, a privately held management and investment company founded by Detroit businessman Anthony L. Soave. Checker Sedan is the official curbside luxury sedan provider for Detroit Metro Airport.

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