Patrick H.

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

Avalon Regional Heritage Fair

Reaching New Heights - The History of St. John's International Airport

My project on the St. John’s International Airport follows both its exciting history and its continuing growth into the future. As the Torbay Airfield of 1941 developed into the modern airport we know today. It not only connected Newfoundland to Canada, it continued to provide more opportunities to expand our economic and cultural growth in the global world. I am so proud that my generation will be part of the future development of the airport.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

The most interesting thing I learned about St. John’s International Airport was that its unique location in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean was its most important quality. I was amazed to discover that Torbay Airfield was built to protect Canada from Nazi Germany attacks in World War II. Many trans-atlantic flights used the airport for refuelling and emergency landings. On September 11th, 2001, St. John’s Airport welcomed 21 diverted flights and over 4000 passengers to Newfoundland, making each person feel safe and at home.

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

I have learned that our international airport connects Newfoundlanders with the rest of Canada. This gives us more opportunities to expand our cultural and economic markets across Canada and the globe. Air travel from St. John’s Airport provides Newfoundlanders with more options for both business and leisure travel. I value the history of our airport and all the efforts made by the province, and more recently, the airport authority, to be prepared for what the future may hold.

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

In the early 1940s, it would have been impossible to imagine that St. John’s Airport would have 1.5 million passengers traveling all over the world to many global destinations each year. Many years ago, only the military or the elite had the opportunity to fly, and today, air travel is available to anyone who can purchase a ticket. In recent years, high-tech security systems have been added to enhance passenger safety and comfort. With increased air traffic, there also came a need for more advanced landing systems.