Andy Zimmerman

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Andy Zimmerman - It was a day that put Salem o n the map — for...
It was a day that put Salem o n the map — for airline de- p artures and arrivals — for t he first time in the city’s history. On Dec. 5, 1941, Salem joined other cities across the nation and the world in having commercial airline service. The Oregon Statesman proclaimed: “Salem officially takes its place on the air-map today, a small white dot on a r ed ribbon that represents s wift passenger, mail and e xpress service from Vancou- v er, BC, to San Diego, Calif., and from the Pacific to the Atlantic.” At 10 a.m., the first United Air Lines Mainliner plane landed at Salem Airport, with airline officials and other dignitaries. The airline offered courtesy flights to civic leaders throughout the day on the same 21-passenger seat plane. Speeches by public officials, civic leaders and airline officials were given throughout the day. Salem High School’s 85-piece band performed during the historic event. And a luncheon and dinner were held at the Marion Hotel. “By air and highway, traffic streamed to the Salem m unicipal airport throughout the day, filling automobile parking spaces and shoulders of nearby roads with constant- l y changing groups of cars u ntil police and other observe rs ceased all attempts to tally the crowd.” The Oregon Statesman reported “several thousand persons” were on the airport g rounds during the ceremony c elebrating the first commer- c ial flight’s arrival. The first official scheduled United Air Lines flight into Salem landed at 1:05 p.m. B lanche Sprague, wife of G ov. Charles Sprague, broke a bottle of champagne across the hub of the 12-ton Mainliner, proclaiming: “I christen thee the City of Salem!” The first flight also inaugurated airmail service in Salem. Residents sent more than 12,000 letters to the Salem P ost Office to receive a special stamp commemorating the first airmail out of Oregon’s capital city. About 8,000 o f those letters were on the s outhbound flight. A bout 15 minutes after its arrival, the plane left Salem full of passengers and mail, headed to San Francisco. The first Salem resident to a rrive by commercial airplane w as George T. Scott of the W est Coast Beet Seed Company, the Oregon Statesman reported. He arrived from Seattle. Mrs. T.J. Amspoker p urchased the first commer- c ial airline ticket out of Salem. A ir service culminated a 31-year journey for aviation in Salem. According to a Dec. 5, 1 941, story in the Capital Journ al by historian Ben Maxwell, t he first airplane seen in the city was on May 8, 1910. “After days of advertising in Salem papers, a primitive Curtis model in charge of C.B. E ly was placed on display at M cMinn hall in the D’Arcy b uilding on Court Street. For an admission charge of 10 cents, aviation enthusiasts saw the first plane displayed i n Salem and the first exhib- i ted in the Northwest,” Max- well wrote. One of the first successful flights in Salem, however, was almost a month later when Eugene Ely flew around the old state Capitol dome on June 4, 1910. Scheduled commercial p assenger air service ended in April 1993, when Horizon Airlines left McNary Field, according to the Statesman J ournal archives. D elta Airlines brought b ack service from June 7, 2007, until Oct. 9, 2008. Sea- Port Airlines served Salem briefly in 2011. Andy Zimmerman is a form er Statesman Journal copy e ditor who writes a column about local history twice per month. You can contact him with comments or suggestions f or future stories at SJTime C Passenger air service lands in Salem SALEM PUBLIC LIBRARY HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTIONS, SALEM, OREGON Blanche Sprague, wife of Oregon Gov. Charles Sprague, christens a United Air Lines plane as the “City of Salem” o n Dec. 5, 1941. Event heralded with speeches, b and, dinner Andy Zimmerman Special to the Statesman Journal ‘‘ Aviation enthusiasts saw the first plane displayed in Salem ... .” BEN MAXWELL Historian, 1941

Clipped from
  1. Statesman Journal,
  2. 27 Dec 2015, Sun,
  3. Main Edition,
  4. Page E2

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  • Andy Zimmerman

    Ferg89 – 02 Feb 2017