St. Louis Lambert International Airport

Fresh art (and history) at St. Louis Lambert Int’l Airport

There’s a new glass mural at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) honoring the life and legacy of airport founder Major Albert Bond Lambert.

Born in 1875, Albert Lambert was an avid balloonist and an accomplished golfer who competed in the 1900 and 1904 summer Olympics. And, lucky for us, he was also an aviation enthusiast who, after taking a ride in a plane piloted by Orville Wright, took flying lessons from the Wright Brothers’ company. In 1911, Lambert became the first licensed pilot in St. Louis.

In 1920, Lambert and the Missouri Aeronautical Society leased farmland to serve as an airfield for St. Louis. And it was Lambert, whose family owned the pharmaceutical company that made Listerine, who paid to have the land developed as an airfield. In 1925, when the lease ran out, Lambert purchased the airfield property. He sold it in 1928 to the city of St. Louis, at cost.

The new mural, “Dream Beyond the Clouds,” was designed by Martin Donlin. And in the video, below, Donlin describes the artistic inspiration for the mural design, the ‘making-of’ the mural, and what he learned about the airport’s namesake.

You’ll want to see the mural up close. Look for it in Terminal One, across from entry door 4.

Stuck at the Airport: Friday Round-up

Happy Friday. We’re ending the week here at Stuck at The Airport with some tidbits that caught our attention, like this #TBT – “Throwback Thursday” – tweet from O’Hare International Airport

And this #TBT tweet from Houston’s Hobby Airport (HOU)

All month long, we’re been paying attention to – and learning from – the tweets from St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) highlighting the people featured on the airport’s Black Americans in Flight mural.

We’re sad we missed seeing this exhibit at Orlando International Airport (MCO).

And we’re impressed that Delta’s Flight Museum is being used as a mass vaccination site in Georgia.

STL: 5 Things We Love About St. Louis Lambert International Airport

[Updated August 30, 2020 with two ‘bonus’ items]

Our “5 Things We Love About…” series celebrating features and amenities at airports around the country and the world lands today at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL).

The airport is named in honor of Major Albert Bond Lambert, who learned to fly with the Wright Brothers and in 1911 was the first person in St. Louis to receive a private pilot’s license.

Keep in mind that some of the modern-day amenities we love at STL may not be available or accessible due to health concerns. We’re confident they’ll be back.

If we miss one of the STL features you love, be sure to leave a note in the comments section below.

And be sure to take a look at the other airports in the “5 Things We Love About...” series as well.

5 Things We Love About St. Louis Lambert International Airport – STL

1. The Historic STL Terminal

In 1956, famed Japanese-American architect Minoru Yamasaki’s iconic arched terminal opened at Lambert.

Yamasaki also designed the original World Trade Center in New York City and many other iconic buildings.

The signature terminal at STL was originally built as a multi-level facility with a grand ticketing hall topped with three 30-ft high domed, concrete vaults.

The STL terminal expanded in 1965 with a fourth identical dome.

That original mid-century design has been credited with influencing the designs for other iconic terminals, including the TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York (now the TWA Hotel) and Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., both designed by Eero Saarinen. 

2. The art collection at STL

St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) has an art museum feel, with ten major works on temporary or permanent display in both terminals.

One of the most notable art pieces at STL is Zhu Wei’s China China bronze statue (above), on loan from the Gateway Foundation.

Here’s a sampling of some of the other artwork you’ll find at STL in the Lambert Gallery (in Terminal 1) and on Concourses A and C.

The Confluence, by Joan Hall. Gate C5 in Terminal 1

Nucleic Life Formation – by Amy Cheng

3. STL’s Historic Black Americans in Flight Mural

August 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the dedication of the impressive and important Black Americans in Flight mural.

The 5-panel mural is eight feet tall and 51 feet long. It pays tribute to African-American achievements in aviation from 1917 onward.

You’ll find it on the lower level of Terminal 1, outside of security, near Exit 11.

4. STL’s Red Rocking Chairs

Rocking chairs are one of the calming amenities travelers most enjoy when they’re stuck at the airport.

At some airports, the rockers are white or plain brown. Elsewhere, they’re painted by artists and each is different.

At STL Airport the rocking chairs are bright red and emblazoned with the STL logo.

Is it the cardinal red of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team? Maybe. But these rockers are hard to miss and clearly very, very comfortable.

5. The bonus views

In the 1960s, Lambert International Airport was the home to a McDonnell Douglas facility that built the Gemini space capsule.

Today, there’s a Boeing plant on the STL property that builds the U.S. Air Force’s F-15 Hornet jet fighter, which can reach a maximum speed of Mach 2.5. The plant also produces the T-7 Air Force trainer jet and the Navy’s MQ-25 refueling drone.

Passengers landing at STL are sometimes treated to the sight of a military or Boeing test pilot making a vertical ascent.  

Like this:

Even more thing we love at STL Airport

Here are two extra bonus items we love at STL Airport: Vending Machines for Ted Drewes Ice Cream and the Glatz Monocoupe.

Ted Drewes Ice Cream Machines at STL

If you live in St. Louis – or have visited – you’re probably a fan of Ted Drewes frozen custard. Lucky thing, then, that there are four Ted Drewes vending machines at STL airport. Two are in the Southwest Airlines Terminal 2 near Gates E10 and E20. Two other machines are in the historic Terminal 1, by Gate A15 and Gate C15. first wrote about the arrival of the Ted Drewes vending machines at STL airport back in 2015.

The Glatz Monocoupe at STL

In STL Terminal 2 you’ll find a Monocoupe 110 Special on display.

The “Glatz” Monocoupe, as it is known, is on loan from the Missouri Historical Society and was manufactured by the Mono Aircraft Corporation of Moline, Illinois in March 1931. The plane has been on display at STL since 1998.

Did we miss one of your favorite features or amenities at STL? Be sure to leave a note in the comments section below. And let us know where our “5 Things We Love About …” series should land next.

STL Airport’s Black Americans in Flight mural turns 30

Make sure to see this historic mural at STL Airport

August 13, 2020 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the dedication ceremony unveiling the Black Americans In Flight mural that now hangs in Terminal One (T1) at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL).

The five-panel mural is eight feet tall and 51 feet long. It pays tribute to African-American Achievements in Aviation from 1917 onward.

Included in the historic mural are 75 portraits, 18 aircraft, five unit patches, and one spacecraft.

In 1986 the Committee for the Aviation Mural Project Success (CAMPS) commissioned St. Louis artist Spencer Taylor to create the mural.

The initial assignment was to honor St. Louis African-American pilots that flew in World War II, also known as Tuskegee Airmen. But Taylor worked with another local artist, Solomon Thurman, and expanded the mural to include the much broader story of African-Americans in aviation and the history they made.

Notable people featured in the mural

A few of the notable people you can spot in the mural include:

Capt. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. On September 2, 1941, David became the first African-American to solo an aircraft as an officer of the U.S. Army Air Corp.

Capt. Wendell O. Pruitt. A St. Louis native, Pruitt was one-half of the famed “Gruesome Twosome.” Capt. Pruitt along and Capt. Lee Archer are considered the most successful pair of Tuskegee pilots in terms of air victories. Both men were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Capt. Marcella A. Hayes. Hayes is the first African-American woman to complete U.S. Army pilot training in 1979. Following her training, she became an Army helicopter pilot.

Capt. Edward J. Dwight, Jr.  He is the first African-American candidate for NASA’s space program.

Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D. McNair was a specialist aboard the fatal launch of the Challenger space shuttle in January of 1986.

Mae C. Jemison, M.D. She is the first African-American female astronaut.

In 2017, STL held an event to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the mural’s installation. COVID-19 means no formal ceremony or event can take place now, for the 30th anniversary.

If you can’t visit STL right now and see this mural in person, you can find more information about it on the STL website. There’s also a report on the time Lt. Colonel Marcella Ng (formerly Capt. Marcella Hayes) visited St. Louis and got her first chance to see her portrait in the mural and meet with one of the artists.

Will more airports ban religious services?

A wing and an organized prayer: OK at some airports, but no longer in Orlando

Chapel at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

My story this week for CNBC is about airport chapels. Here’s a very slightly different version of that piece.

They’re not as ubiquitous as cocktail bars and souvenir shops, but chapels and inter-faith prayer spaces, many with full or part-time chaplains and regularly-scheduled services, are among the amenities offered by more than three dozen airports around the country.

Some prayer rooms occupy what has, over time, become prime real estate in pre or post-security areas of airport terminals. Others are tucked away and may be hard to find on mezzanines, down back corridors or in bag claim areas. 

But a recent rise in violence at churches, mosques and synagogues prompted Orlando International Airport to rethink holding religious services at its interfaith chapel and reflection space, prompting some concern about whether other airports will make similar changes. 

Interfaith chapel at Orlando International Airport

Earliest airport chapel

In 1951, Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) was the first U.S. airport to set aside dedicated space for prayer. “It was explicitly meant for people working at the airport. A neon light pointed to the chapel,” notes Wendy Cadge, an expert in contemporary American religion, in “A Brief History of Airport Chapels.”

Today Logan’s appropriately named Our Lady of the Airways is located in the airport’s public area. It seats 250, is open around-the-clock and offers mass daily for passengers, airport and airline employees and the general public. 

Orlando International Airport makes a change

At Orlando International Airport (MCO), an interfaith chapel with a Tree of Life stained glass window dates to the airport’s 1981 opening. A second reflection space for prayer, with accommodations for Muslim travelers, was added in 2015, as part of a customer service enhancement project.

Both spaces are located post-security and for many years Catholic mass has been offered in MCO’s chapel each Sunday morning and during holidays. But, citing increased passenger volume, space allocation and safety, the airport board recently revised it policies.

Now, while ticketed passengers and employees are welcome to visit the prayer spaces anytime, organized religious services of any kind are not permitted.

“Every airport authority has to make the decisions that they think are the best for their environment and location,” said Susan Schneider of the Interfaith Airport Chapels of Chicago, which offers religious services and passenger support services at both O’Hare and Midway Airports. “If Orlando feels this is something they must do at this time, you have to trust the decision. You just hope it’s the right decision.”

Reverend Rodrick Burton, a pastor is St. Louis, is certain the authorities at Orlando International Airport have made the wrong decision.

“I believe Orlando’s actions are stunning in their shortsightedness and in an effort to be politically correct or to misinterpret the constitutional right of freedom of religion,” said Burton, who serves as president of the St. Louis Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy, an organization that has offered “prayer, religious services, spiritual guidance, empathetic listening” and other assistance at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) for more than 33 years.  

“There’s nothing sacred about those spaces if Chaplain’s don’t attend to them. Those chapels will become quiet rooms,” he added.

Status of other airport chapels

I polled about two dozen other airports around the country on the status of their interfaith spaces and organized religious services.

Reflection room at San Diego International Airport

Airports in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle and many other cities have chapels, quiet rooms, meditation spaces and/or reflection rooms that welcome travelers at all hours, but do not offer religious services. “No regular services are held here. It is strictly self-service,” said Greg Willis, Marketing Program Manager at Florida’s Jacksonville International Airport, “We provide a book where customers can write down their thoughts and prayers.”

Interfaith chapel at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Some airport chapels have been ensconced in airport terminals for a long time. At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the ATL Interfaith Airport Chapel was established in 1979. Pittsburgh International Airport opened its post-security interfaith chapel in 1992, along with the current terminal. And the quiet room at Philadelphia International Airport was created just last August.

T1 chapel entry at St. Louis Lamber International Airport

In addition to the scheduled religious services offered at Boston Logan and St. Louis Lambert International Airport, airport chapels in Atlanta, Cleveland, San Francisco, Denver, Dallas, New York (JFK) and a handful of other airports offer organized religious services. All airports that responded to my query say they currently have no plans to follow Orlando’s lead in banning these services.

A solution that works

Meanwhile, back in Orlando, after some scrambling and, no doubt some prayers, there’s now an alternative arrangement for those seeking to attend Sunday mass at the airport.

Instead of being offered in the post-security airport chapel, starting this Sunday, mass will be held in the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport hotel, which is attached to the main terminal of the airport.

The solution is being hailed as a godsend for the both travelers and the airport.

“Security and Safety will always be a top priority at Orlando International,” said Tom Draper, Senior Director of Airport Operations for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, “By moving these activities to a larger and more private location, we are minimizing activity in secure areas while enhancing the guest experience for those traveling through the airport.”