Washington National Airport (DCA)

On June 16, 1941, Washington National Airport opened for full-time operations. President Roosevelt attended a ceremony and observed the first official landing. The airlines drew straws to determine who could land at National Airport first, and American Airlines won the honor. The plane was piloted by Bennett H. Griffin, who later became the manager of National Airport in 1947. The second inaugural landing was made by Eastern Airlines. On opening day, just one hangar was completed and in operation. Five hangars were under construction with a seventh in the planning stage.

When it opened, National Airport was considered the “last word” in airports – a concentration of the ultramodern developments in design of buildings, handling of planes, air traffic and field traffic control, field lighting, facilities for public comfort and convenience, and surface vehicle traffic control.

Currently, aircraft are required to take unusually complicated paths to avoid restricted and prohibited airspace above sensitive landmarks, government buildings, and military installations in and around Washington, D.C.


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