REMEMBERING WHEN: Tweed, the beginning of commercial aviation in our backyard – Shoreline Times


Tweed New Haven Airport, located on the border of New Haven and East Haven, is a direct link to the beginning of commercial aviation.

The small regional airport for southern Connecticut operates daily along the coastline out of New Haven’s East Shore. One of many 20th century industries that today we take as a given, the field of aviation is relatively new. The growth and regulation of flight took place after World War I, when it could be argued that it had been still fairly experimental.

In 1922, New Haven Mayor David E. Fitzgerald put called for a commission to investigate the prospects of a local airport. New Haven Municipal Airport was dedicated on Saturday, Aug. 29, 1931.

At the time, it was the most economically built airport in the country at $475,000, which equaled $2.80 per citizen of New Haven. Designed by Westcott and Mapes of New Haven, the airport featured a singular 4,000,000 candlepower floodlight that illuminated the entire field.

In 1961, it was renamed Tweed-New Haven in honor of John H. Tweed of Madison, a pioneer of Connecticut aviation, who had served as the airport manager for 30 years.

Originally the runways were graded dirt, but as wartime concerns arose in the late 1930s, the runways were paved in affiliation with FDR’s WPA program.

During World War II, the airport was under the control of the U.S. Air Force (1943-1945), who used the facilities for the training of radio and maintenance personnel, along with a makeshift airfield at the Yale Bowl.

American Airlines began to fly out of New Haven in 1934. At the time, they were not only operating a passenger service, but the first Air Mail and Air Express services. Their route system entailed most of the United States.

In 1952, the first commercial jet landed at Tweed, and in 1969, the first control tower opened in the old terminal building, which was later replaced in 1982.

Pilgrim Airlines, an early commuter airline, began flights to Kennedy International Airport in 1967. They would late be replaced by US Airways, along with service by larger airlines Delta and United. Continued…

Tweed New Haven Airport, located on the border of New Haven and East Haven, is a direct link to the beginning of commercial aviation.

The small regional airport for southern Connecticut operates daily along the coastline out of New Haven’s East Shore. One of many 20th century industries that today we take as a given, the field of aviation is relatively new. The growth and regulation of flight took place after World War I, when it could be argued that it had been still fairly experimental.

In 1922, New Haven Mayor David E. Fitzgerald put called for a commission to investigate the prospects of a local airport. New Haven Municipal Airport was dedicated on Saturday, Aug. 29, 1931.

At the time, it was the most economically built airport in the country at $475,000, which equaled $2.80 per citizen of New Haven. Designed by Westcott and Mapes of New Haven, the airport featured a singular 4,000,000 candlepower floodlight that illuminated the entire field.

In 1961, it was renamed Tweed-New Haven in honor of John H. Tweed of Madison, a pioneer of Connecticut aviation, who had served as the airport manager for 30 years.

Originally the runways were graded dirt, but as wartime concerns arose in the late 1930s, the runways were paved in affiliation with FDR’s WPA program.

During World War II, the airport was under the control of the U.S. Air Force (1943-1945), who used the facilities for the training of radio and maintenance personnel, along with a makeshift airfield at the Yale Bowl.

American Airlines began to fly out of New Haven in 1934. At the time, they were not only operating a passenger service, but the first Air Mail and Air Express services. Their route system entailed most of the United States.

In 1952, the first commercial jet landed at Tweed, and in 1969, the first control tower opened in the old terminal building, which was later replaced in 1982.

Pilgrim Airlines, an early commuter airline, began flights to Kennedy International Airport in 1967. They would late be replaced by US Airways, along with service by larger airlines Delta and United.

Today Tweed continues to operate commercial passenger services to Philadelphia along with private aircraft.

This is part 1 in a series of columns on Tweed, Next week we meet Jack Tweed of Madison, early aviator.

Editor’s note: Jason Bischoff-Wurstle is the director of Photo Archives at the New Haven Museum, and co-host of “This Day in New Haven History” which airs everyday Monday through Friday on the New Haven Independent’s WNHH 103.5 FM (streaming on Soundcloud and iTunes).

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