Since the creation of the first airport in 1909 by Wilbur Wright, cities in the United States have come together to create one of the most expansive airport systems in the world. Over the next few months, our writers have taken an in-depth look to see what airports each state has to offer, what its history entails, and what changes we can expect in the future that will continue to shape the airline industry.
The “Pine Tree State”, also known as Maine, is the second most northern in the United States right after Alaska. It was the 23rd state to join the United States in 1820. As we will see, Maine plays an important role in transatlantic flights.
Portland International Jetport – Portland, Maine
Portland international Jetport is not to be confused with Portland international Airport. This airport is situated in Portland Maine, while the other is in Oregon. To make matters even more confusing, while the airport is owned and operated by the city of Portland, a portion of it, including the main runway is in the neighboring city of South Portland. But enough of this geological confusion.
The airport was founded in 1920 by Dr. Clifford Stange as Stoutwater Field. It was renamed Portland-Westbrook Municipal Airport when it was purchased two years later by the city of Portland.
The first jet flights took place from 1968, and many airlines have come and gone since those days. Boston-Maine Airways (later named Northeast Airlines), Atlantic Airways, Aroostook Airways, Air New England and Delta all flew from the field between the 1960s and 1970s. Later, they would be joined or replaced by Air Vermont, Peoplexpress Airlines, United, Pan Am and US Airways. Currently American Airlines, Delta, Elite, Jetblue, Southwest and United Airlines offer flights to the airport.
“Like many community airports, Portland International Jetport had its beginnings as the private field of a flying fan. Today, the Jetport is one of the nation’s fastest-growing airports, serving most of the major domestic airlines and over 1.6 million passengers a year.”
Bangor International Airport – Bangor, Maine
One of the most unique facts about this airport is that it was designated by NASA as an emergency landing location for the Space Shuttle. The joint civil-military public airport is still home the the 101st Air Refueling Wing of the Main Air National Guard and its location makes it a perfect diversion location for transatlantic flights.
The airport’s most important aspect is it’s position on the major corridors between Europe and the East Coast of the United States. This corridor helps diverting aircraft to find a safe and easily accessible airport to land in case of an emergency. It’s the first major American airport encountered by airliners on their way from Europe. Because of the high number of unscheduled landings, ranging from fuel to medical reasons, maintenance problems or weather, it is quick to assemble firefighters, ambulances, police officers or federal agents.
A quote from the airport states: “Offering over 60 daily jet flights to and from major metropolitan centers, Florida and the Caribbean. Conveniently accessible to the best of the coastal and highlands areas of Maine, BGR is your intelligent travel alternative. Travel smart, fly through Bangor.”
Northern Maine Regional Airport – Presque Isle, Maine
What makes this airport special is that it holds the second longest runway in Maine, right after the previously discussed Bangor International Airport. With its North to South 7439 feet long runway, and a second runway that spans the length of 5994 feet faced East to West it offers good landing options regardless of most wind conditions.
During World War II, the airport was appointed an air base for planes bound to and from Great Britain. It played a vital role and became a busy war center during the war. Nowadays, the airport serves airline flights to Logan International Airport, which are subsidized by federal government’s Essential Air Service program.
“The airport offers business and leisure air travelers non-stop service to and from Boston’s Logan Airport aboard PenAir’s Saab 340 aircraft, a modern, pressurized 34-seat turbo jet prop with a restroom, flight attendant and a spacious interior. PenAir provides daily schedule service with 19 flights per week between Presque Isle and Boston’s Logan Airport, providing worldwide connections to all of your favorite business and vacation destinations.”