For two decades, the three static display jets proudly mounted at the main entrance and West side of the Missouri National Guard at Lambert were a memorable part of visits to the Airport. The planes were commemorative pieces of the 131st Bomb Wing legacy, and several individuals close to the aircraft came to watch as they were removed from their pedestal displays. For some, it proved to be an emotional moment.
The fighter jets are being relocated to their new home at Whiteman Air Force Base Heritage Park. In a process that took nearly a year to plan, moving the aircraft required expert manpower, huge harnesses, and massive cranes.
The first plane to be removed was the F-4 Phantom II (top). The story of this aircraft and removal was featured for our Lambert Photo of the Week: Final Flight. You can view that photo and article HERE. It was flown between 1978-1992, and had two confirmed MiG kills during the Vietnam War. One of the stories that didn't make the article, is how an exterior nook of the aircraft had become home to a beehive, and workers could be seen swatting the few remaining bees away as they moved about the plane.
Several days later, the F-100 was lifted (middle). This was the oldest of the three aircraft, and in the most fragile state. It was in service between 1962-1979, and was once part of the USAF's Thunderbird flight demonstration team, but was grounded after a crack was found in the wing. Of the three planes, The F-100 was mounted closest to Terminal 1, and had a cracked windshield as a result of the Lambert Terminal 1 tornado strike in 2011.
Weather delayed the removal of the final aircraft by more than a week. The F-15, arguably the most recognizable plane, was received from the 48th Fighter Squadron in 1991 (bottom). F-15s were flown by the 131st Bomb Wing (then known as the 131st Fighter Wing) from 1991-2009.
Each of the planes were lifted via harness onto flatbed trucks where they were partially disassembled. The last remaining elements of the aircraft were removed from the Missouri National Guard base this week. Before the ribbon cutting ceremony at Whiteman Air Force Base on June 12, 2015, the planes will receive a fresh coat of paint and partial restoration. An interesting fact: The special paint used on the aircraft requires a full week of mixing before it can be applied.
January saw the biggest jump in traffic for the quarter with total traffic up 4.3 percent or 878,410 passengers. February saw a passenger increase of 1.5 percent with 829,393 passengers. March improved by .6 percent with 1,079,574 total passengers. Click here for 2015 Year-to-Date passenger statistics.
The first quarter of 2015 also recorded a 1.5 percent increase in passenger aircraft departures totaling 18,916. Cargo flight activity is also trending up for the quarter with a 9.5 percent increase with 335 departing flights versus 306 in 2014.
Lambert’s 10 airlines currently serves 64 non-stop destinations, which includes seasonal service to four charter vacation destinations: Cancun, Mexico; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. This summer, Lambert will add daily service to three additional destinations: Austin, Texas on Southwest Airlines, Portland, Oregon on Alaska Airlines and Jackson, Tennessee on Air Choice One.
Signature Flight Support celebrated a $3.3 million transformation of its fixed based operations (FBO) at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport during a grand reopening event. The company, which serves corporate and private aviation customers, operates on the north side of Lambert's airfield.
Signature's renovations can be seen throughout it's FBO with a modern and upscale waiting lobby, more access to technology and power ports, upgraded conference facilities, restroom enhancements and more choices for food and beverages. The amenities are for both flying customers as well as pilots.
The project also included improvements to hangars and fueling operations.
Southwest Airlines Captains Randy Hansen (left) and Rusty Jensen (right) wave to the crowd as “Missouri One” arrives at Lambert.
After 30 years of service in Missouri, Southwest Airlines surprised St. Louis with a gesture of dedication by unveiling the Missouri One Boeing 737-700 aircraft. Nearly two weeks of painting done in secret in Kansas City paid off, as the big reveal was made at both Kansas City International Airport (MCI), and later at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport Thursday afternoon. Missouri One is detailed with images of the Missouri State flag, and is one of only ten planes with state flagship liveries in the Southwest fleet. Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly was aboard the debut flight and gave a brief presentation, followed by words from City of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “Kansas City and St. Louis have been vital cities in our network for more than 30 years,” Kelly said. “I couldn’t think of a better way to show our love to our employees, customers and friends in the great state of Missouri than by dedicating this high-flying salute to them.”
Melanie Diane Gilmore embraces her brother for the very first time amidst family and news media outside the A Concourse.
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport was the backdrop for a very emotional moment Thursday, and a truly incredible family reunion. Melanie Diane Gilmore (left) is 50 years old, and for her entire life, her family didn’t even know she was alive. Hours after giving birth, before even holding her child, Melanie’s mother was told her baby had died. For reasons unknown, Melanie was then adopted by another family, and currently resides with her husband and three children in Oregon. It was her children who uncovered the unbelievable story, and actually found the long-lost family members on Facebook, living in St. Louis. This image captures the first time Melanie and her brother met. Happily, she and her mother reunited that evening.
The exhibition showcases the vast collection of his hand-crafted robots that are created with everyday finds, from antique ceramic insulators to milkshake blenders. He’s also re-purposed discarded mechanisms like old phones, hair dryers, circuit boards and remote controls for parts, which find new life in his robots. Besides the collection within several art cases, the exhibition also features a 6-ft tall robot and an 8-ft welcome sign that allows passengers and guests to take their very own “robot selfie” as a little takeaway for visiting.
Christman has been building robots since 1952 when he was 6 years old. His first robot was an oatmeal box covered in tin foil and animated by wind-up toys that he had disassembled for their moving parts. Like many other children of the 1950s, he dreamt of making a robot that would do his chores for him.
Christman uses what he describes as “a form of gentle parody and genteel anarchy” in his craft while addressing robots as a serious contemporary issue, that of machines and automation eliminating the cultural usefulness and value of human labor. Christman sees the cuteness of robots as a “seductive quality of advancing modern technology.” Christman, through his alter-ego, Otto von Bismark Schnarr, currently displays his robots at the Robotorium exhibit in the City Museum in downtown St. Louis.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge are leading a delegation this week in Mexico City that has already yielded a major agreement to develop international cargo activity through St. Louis.
The St. Louis delegation, which also includes the World Trade Center of St. Louis, has been meeting with the Governor of the State of Mexico, Eruviel Ávila, as well as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, E. Anthony Wayne. The Governor of the State of Mexico announced Tuesday the intent to form an official partnership with St. Louis and Lambert Airport to develop an international cargo program with St. Louis as a key hub for the State of Mexico’s international imports and exports. The partnership would involve Toluca International Airport (TIA), which serves the largest industrial region in the country of Mexico.
“This advances the Airport’s strategic plan to establish and grow scheduled international cargo activity and it certainly advances our dual customs project that would be key to facilitating Mexican cargo shipments through St. Louis,” said Lambert Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge.
Governor Ávila pledged great support to promote the project, which still needs to be approved by the government of Mexico. During these meetings, U.S. Ambassador Wayne also pledged to support this important commerce development. The St. Louis delegation also shared letters of support for the project from Missouri Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt as well as U.S. Representatives for Missouri, Ann Wagner and WM. Lacy Clay.
"We are here on an important mission for St. Louis, Missouri, and the Midwest to improve logistics between moving cargo between St. Louis and Mexico," Mayor Francis Slay said. "I want to thank the honorable Governor Eruviel Ávila, for his warm welcome, and I am encouraged by his enthusiasm, support, and partnership to work with us to bring a dual-customs facility to St. Louis."
Mexico is the third largest foreign trade partner for the St. Louis region valued at more than $3.5 Billion in total trade (commodities). The delegations meeting in Mexico this week are still working on next steps and timetables for additional meetings that will focus on the details of a formal commerce agreement.
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is proud to recognize and award three Outstanding Employees of the Quarter. Tina Graves, Administrative Assistant II with Materials Management, and Lead Airfield Operations Specialists Jonathan Longo and Norman Schlaack, all received honors at Lambert's Airport Commission Meeting.
Graves (left) was presented her award by Assistant Director of Finance and Accounting, Antonio Strong (right). When the Procurement Manager II retired recently, Graves did a superior job of taking on the additional responsibilities of that position to keep Materials Management highly functional and running smoothly.
Assistant Director of Operations and Maintenance, Ronald Stella (right), awarded both Longo (left) and Schlaack (middle). Longo updated Lambert's latest Airfield Certification Manual amendment in a record time of 3 weeks, expediting a process that can often take two months or more to complete. Schlaack developed and formatted the new Lambert Airfield Condition Report, also in just 3 weeks, making it easily readable and containing more specific information that is distributed to Lambert's tenant airlines.
The Missouri National Guard at Lambert removes 1968 F-4 Phantom from display on Tuesday.
Lots of folks are saying their goodbyes to the three historic fighter jets that have been proudly displayed for two decades outside of the Missouri National Guard at Lambert. Two of the iconic jets flew for the last time this week, and for those close to their heritage, it became a very emotional moment. This tactical fighter jet served in the Vietnam War, and is a legacy piece for the 131 Bomb Wing. The stars painted near the cockpit memorialize the aircraft’s two confirmed enemy planes it brought down in combat. Even with most of the avionics removed, at 15 tons, it required a massive 100 ft. crane to lift the fighter jet from its display pedestal to an awaiting flatbed truck. All three jets will be dismantled and relocated to their final resting place in Whiteman Air Force Base Heritage Park. On Friday morning the F-100 was removed in similar fashion, and the F-15 will come down next week.
Jacqueline Taylor of Lambert’s Business Diversity Development Office shares information at the Business Diversity Forum.
Avoid parking fees the next time you pick up a passenger. Lambert provides free waiting zones for motorists near each terminal.