Wings of the Tern Blog

March 8, 2010

Airport Cafe’s

Filed under: Current Posting — wingsofthetern @ 10:14 am

The Airport Cafe at Whiteman Air Park was operated by an attractive, middle aged, brunette named Lori. Ms. Lori’s name may have adorned the nose of some fighter or bomber during the war. At least, I always imagined it so. The cafe, which had once been a residential dwelling, was in a small building just inside the airport’s entrance. The current interior decor was that of a 1940s diner with bamboo and other South Pacific trimmings. Included on one wall, was a very large round mirror with a busty South Seas girl painted on it.  Seating was provided at small aluminum legged tables and chairs,  typical of the period, or at a long curved counter on red upholstered pedestal stools. A very large and ornate juke box rested against the south wall. Next to the juke box was an access doorway to the kitchen, which was open except for bamboo curtains.

The above description is of the little airport cafe where I spent many a morning during my early air scout years. Airport Cafe’s, at small general aviation airports, are wonderful places for pilots to congregate at.  Almost everyone there is a pilot or, at least, interested in airplanes.  While there, you might overhear someone at another table talking about a familiar airplane or airport, which gives you an excuse to mossy over, introduce yourself, and compare notes.

One of my favorite Airport Cafe’s is located at Chandler Downtown Airport in Fresno, Calif.  I like to take my grandsons in on Saturday morning for Hot Cakes and to watch the airplanes land and take off.  The Cafe there has undergone many changes over the years.  I miss the rounded counter which was removed several years ago.  Currently, while clean and modernized, it has an Art Deco interior designed to give the feel of the 1930’s when the airport was in its hay day.

The airport got it’s start shortly after World War I, when the Mr and Mrs Wilber F Chandlers allowed pilots to take off and land in their fields once the crops were harvested.

In November of 1929, Chandler, who was now a US Senator, deeded and dedicated a one hundred-acre site, for public use as an air field.  At the dedication, the Senators five-year-old grandson held a ribbon, which was snapped by a Ford Tri-Motor airplane.

On March 1930, Colonel and Mrs. Charles Lindberg landed at the airport and were greeted by a crowd of 20,000.

Construction of the terminal building in a streamline Moderne style was completed by 1937 and until the new Fresno Air Terminal was completed in 1947, Chandler was the primary airport serving private and commercial airlines in the Fresno Area.

This weeks featured airplane (Aircraft Page) is a Volpar (Referenced page 9 in book)
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