Mobile Municipal Airport, 1952

Fly back to 1952 to a terminal at the Mobile Municipal Airport.

Photo courtesy Museum of Mobile Collection, Thigpen Photography, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama.

In the 1950s, mobile municipal airport, also known as Bates Field, pictured above, saw an uptick in traffic thanks to the sharp increase in commercial air travel during that decade known as the Golden Age of Flight. The airlines pictured closest to the camera, Eastern Air Lines and National Air Lines, were the first two to service Mobile, both arriving to Bates Field in the 1930s. They flew out of the Downtown airport until it was purchased by the Army Air Corps in 1938, and later renamed Brookley Field. Bates Field relocated approximately 10 miles west. The terminal you see here pictured in September 1952 was built in the late 1940s as part of a million-dollar renovation and expansion but was eventually replaced in 1986. Bates Field was renamed Mobile Regional Airport in January 1991.

1950s Flight Fun Facts

– Turbulence was much more of a problem than it is now, and injuries were prevalent.

– Passengers had 3 – 6 more inches of leg room than they do on flights today.

– Smoking on flights was allowed, but not in the terminal due to fears of igniting fuel flames.

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– Up until the late 70s, no form of ID was required for passengers to board planes.

– Passengers received a postcard when they boarded a plane to write down their in-flight experience and mail once they landed.

By the numbers

The average salary percentage a person could spend for a plane ticket in the 1950s. Today, it costs fliers an average of 1% of their salary.

The year that Mobile’s inaugural airmail flight landed at Legion Field, the city’s first municipal airport, that was essentially a grassy field west of Arlington Pier.

10 cents
The cost of using one of the bathroom stalls in the Mobile Municipal Airport. Both the ladies’ and the men’s stalls were coin operated and required a dime for the door to open. 

The Wings of Man
In the 1930s, Eastern Airline’s one flight a day each way between Newark and San Antonio stopped at Bates Field. The airline continued to service Mobile until its dissolution in 1991.

Do you know any further details about this photo? Let us know! Email [email protected].

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