The Piedmont Triad Airport Authority – the board that calls the shots as to how the airport is run – is turning 80 in April.

On Tuesday, March 23, airport officials called attention to that milestone and used it to thank all those who have contributed to the airport’s success over the years.

The North Carolina General Assembly created the Airport Authority in 1941.  In many ways, the Authority is like a mini-Board of Commissioners governing its own territory.  The Authority can buy or sell land and set rules at the airport, and it has the ultimate authority to operate and manage the airport.  The airport even has its own police force.

The Piedmont Triad Airport Authority is a very interesting board because, at least in this century, almost all, if not all, of the votes have been unanimous. In a May 2019 article, the Rhino Times reported that top airport officials couldn’t remember with certainty a dissenting vote on the seven-member board.

Piedmont Triad International Airport itself was around long before the authority was established to manage it.  The airport was born in 1927.  At that time, it was known as Lindley Field.  On May 28, 1927, the airport’s first passenger boarded a charter flight and flew out of Lindley Field to New York City.

According to the birthday announcement sent out Tuesday by the Authority, a racing pilot in the ‘20s called Lindley Field the “best landing field in the South.”

in April 1942. about a year after the airport was established, the Airport Authority held its first meeting.

Current Airport Authority Chairman Paul Mengert stated in the press release that the airport has only gotten better over the years thanks to the contributions of many.

“Our airport has come a long way in nearly 100 years of service to this community,” Mengert stated. “We are now an essential element in the economic vitality of the Piedmont Triad and the state of North Carolina.”

“Many people have worked hard over the last century to build this airport into what it is today,” he added. “On the 80th anniversary of the formation of this governing body, I believe this to be a fitting time to honor and remember all of those who have gone before us.”

A recent joint study by the NC Department of Transportation and North Carolina State University found that the airport generates nearly $9 billion in “economic impact” in the area every year and that it is responsible for about 30,000 local jobs.

Roughly 8,600 people work on the airport’s campus alone.

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the airport served about 16 non-stop destinations.  Like airports across the country, the passenger flow in and out of Piedmont Triad International Airport has been severely reduced by the pandemic – but that traffic is slowly coming back, and airport officials point out in this week’s birthday press released that passengers using the airport can get to almost anywhere in the world with just one stop.