I love historical aerial photos because they not only freeze an object in time, they place the object in the context of its surroundings. For example, I wrote an article for Trains magazine about Dallas Union Station, and in the Dallas Public Library’s photo collection, I found an aerial view of the terminal from the late 1940s. The photo was a perfect companion to the article I wrote.
While going through a binder of black and white negatives that we recently acquired for our archives, I found some cool aerial views of Dallas Love Field that were taken in 1981. As any of you who travel regularly know, an airport is a constantly changing creature and Love Field is no exception. With the massive modernization currently in progress for Love Field, I thought this look back would be interesting. These photos not only show how the airport has changed, they show how Southwest has changed.
Evidently, Southwest ordered these photos, probably for our old inflight magazine, Southwest Magazine. The view below is a wide shot showing most of the terminal. The building still wears its original red and green façade, and the control tower is still in use on top of the terminal. In the foreground is the West Concourse (the former American gates) that are still in use by Southwest. The enclosed passageway from the bagage claim area to the concourse can be seen next to the lower right of the terminal. In the middle of the photo is the North Concourse looking pretty much the way it did after the other airlines moved to DFW. The white hangar on the left of the concourse was the first of two similar hangars which eventually housed our Dallas Provisioning Station. (Provisioning just moved into a new facility recently, see video.) Sharp-eyed airline geeks will notice the former Piedmont YS-11A parked to the left of the hangar. Behind are two general aviation hangars under construction—which eventually would house our Ground Service Equipment repair facility. Private aircraft line the North and East Concourse ramps. A new control tower was eventually constructed near where the North and East Concourses intersect. Moving up to the East Concourse (coming out of the upper right of the terminal building), we see two Air Force KC-135s parked at what were the old Texas International gates. At the very top right portion of the photo is the Braniff maintenance base, which is still in operation, and there are three Braniff DC-8s parked to the left of the hangar. Just behind the DC-8s is a building that kind of looks like a ski chalet. This was the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant that opened after the other airlines moved to Love Field. The former Legend Terminal sat on this site.
As can be seen in the bottom two photos, Southwest was only using six gates on the West Concourse at this time. (We now use the entire concourse.) The other gates have no jetbridges attached. It looks as though five aircraft are parked remotely at the other gates. My guess is that the photos were taken just after sunrise (on an overcast day), and that these are overnight aircraft that will move to a working gate once a flight departs.
The next photo shows that the jetbridges were painted in an approximation of the Southwest colors. Because of the fuel tanker truck, it appears that underground fuel hydrants have yet to be installed. The small tower on top of the concourse is American’s old ramp tower. The same basic gate configuration is currently in place today.
Moving back out to a wider shot, we see that this was before the first parking garage was completed. Look at how few cars are in the parking lot. Runway 18/36 runs from the top to the bottom of the photo on the left, and today there are several general aviation hangars next to the runway at the top of the photo. Runway 13Right/31Left runs from left to right across the bottom of the photo. (Bachman Lake is out of the frame to the left.)
Here’s one final view looking generally back to the southeast.