Grand Central Air Terminal
On February 13, 2016 the American Aviation Historical Society dedicated the newly restored Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale California at their 60th Anniversary Annual Meeting. Located on the Creative Campus of Walt Disney Imagineering, the restoration was overseen by Disney’s Corporate Real Estate Design and Delivery team. More than just a restoration project, Disney has bought back to life America’s very first International Air Terminal where the entire airline industry was launched in 1929.
This terminal’s illustrious history had been nearly forgotten as the facility slowly decayed into a ghost building until Disney chose to bring back to living glory this special place. And for me, special place indeed! As a small child living close by, starting in 1938, I roamed this magical airport filled with spectacular airplanes. In 1958 I was an official at a sports car race held on the weed filled runways. During my final year as a Disney Imagineer, my office was located here, in what was then referred to as the Tower Building, a part of the previous WED Enterprises facility, later renamed Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI).
To be a part of, not just the Disney restoration effort, but to give an opening speech at the private December 17, 2015 dedication, then be a part of the American Aviation Historical Society dedication was a very special treat. This Terminal had been central to my aviation passion for over 78 years, prowling it’s environs. Before becoming a car stylist, I had originally planned to attend the Grand Central Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute after high school graduation.
Wait… there’s more. The next day after the February dedication I joined a group of American Aviation Historical Society members in a dedication flight circling the Grand Central Air Terminal in a Douglas DC-3 airliner, just like the ones that flew there in the 1930s. For me, more than anyone else there that weekend, the emotional connection of a lifetime to to such a hallowed American historical treasure was most overpowering.
And even more… you can appreciate my wild enthusiasm for GCAT, so here’s a story originally posted on MiceChat in March 2013.