First air mail flight through N.C. landed here May 1, 1928. Charles Lindbergh, on Oct. 14, 1927, landed nearby to open field.
Greensboro businessmen in the 1920s touted their city as the site for a major airport, their city being the mid-point between northern cities and those in the Deep South. Leaders from Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem worked to establish an air field on property purchased by Guilford County and Greensboro from Paul C. Lindley in 1927. Drawing visitors to the opening ceremony for Lindley Field was national hero Charles Lindbergh in his airplane, Spirit of St. Louis. Lindbergh in May 1927 completed the first nonstop solo flight from New York to Paris. Drawing on his success, he flew throughout the United States to encourage air flight. He visited Lindley Field as part of a three-month tour that took him to forty-eight states and eighty-two cities, racking up 147 speeches and 1,290 miles of parade routes. As a result, interest in the uses of air flight particularly the use of air mail, exploded.
Bryan Boulevard at Burgess Road in Greensboro
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© 2009 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources
Lindbergh’s Greensboro visit, one of only two in North Carolina during the tour, highlighted the potential prominence of the city as an aviation center. As soon as he landed, he was seated in a convertible and escorted through the heart of the city by motorcade to Memorial Stadium. The visit was short, lasting only about two hours before he was back in his plane, headed to Winston-Salem and then on to Richmond. His Winston stop featured the same degree of awe-filled turnout by the local population and included an overnight stay plus a 300-person banquet.
Although officially designated Tri-County Airport after its establishment in 1927, the area was still known as Lindley Field; improvements soon were made, to the runways, the hangars, and administration buildings. City leaders sought to improve the status of the airfield by petitioning the U.S. Mail to designate the airport as a stop for planes carrying air mail. Pitcairn Aviation was given the contract to fly an air mail delivery route along the eastern seaboard, using Greensboro as one of its five stops. The first air mail delivery for North Carolina arrived there on May 1, 1928. The field was closed during the Depression because of a decline in service and sub-standard facilities. The airport was a project of the Works Progress Administration during the late 1930s and was re-opened in 1937. The airport has since grown into a major hub for both transportation and commercial shipping.
Blackwell Robinson and Alexander Stoesen, History of Guilford County, North Carolina, USA to 1980 AD (1980)
Alexander Stoesen, Guilford County: A Brief History (1993)
Ethel S. Arnett, Greensboro, North Carolina: The County Seat of Guilford (1955)
Lindley Field History papers, MSS # 99, Greensboro Historical Museum Archives
Kenneth S. Davis, The Hero: Charles A. Lindbergh and the American Dream (1959)
Richard P. Hallion, Legacy of Flight: The Guggenheim Contribution to American Aviation (1977)
Charles Lindbergh website: http://www.charleslindbergh.com/