Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

Flashback Fridays--1981 Aerial Views of Dallas Love Field

Not applicable

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.

Not applicable
Brian, Wow, what a blast from the past these photos are... They were undoubtedly taken on a weekend, given the multitude of "spare" aircraft and the lack of cars in that parking lot that's sans garage. Fuel trucks were indeed still in use, and the underground hydrant system was still installed, but not used since all the other airlines had headed to DFW. If memory serves, the entire system was refurbished and put back into use in the late-1980s or early-1990s. I don't recall the two KC-135s still being there when I returned to SWA ijn May of 1982, but where they're sitting became an employee parking lot that was much coveted by dispatchers, crew schedulers, and pilots since our offices (and the crew room) were all in that section of the former terminal building closest to the KC-135 in the foreground. Going outward from the terminal, I recall that Jet East had some offices out at the very end. There was a door in the then Dispatch office that led down a flight of stairs (to ground level), and the entire concourse between Dispatch and Jet East was later filled with aircraft catering equipment and supplies from the original Braniff, which folded in 1982. One minor correction: The Legend terminal didn't replace the 94th Aero Squadron site, but the Signature fixed base operator (FBO) did, and it's still there today. I know this for sure due to the embarassing late-1970s memory of my having shown up with a Valentines date there at the 94th, only to find that they had no reservation for us. It turns out I was supposed to be at Richthofen's, *another* Dallas Love restaurant with a WWI-theme, that was on the ground level underneath where "Howdy's" would eventually be. As evidenced by my having problems finding Richthofen's, so too did many others, and even with a mock-up bi-plane parked outside on the ramp, the place didn't last long. It eventually became the first site for the SWA Credit Union. Great photos.... 😉
Not applicable
Wow I love these old aerial photos of Love Field my dad worked for United Airlines since they were a mail carrier and he has old aerial photos of O'Hare and the change over the years is amazing. Thanks for the great photos!
Not applicable
Jeez, I remember flying out of that terminal when it belonged to American. I've got pics from 8/9/1972 when we flew from DAL to BAL(Now BWI)..we flew on a AA 707. Think we left from gate three judging from pics I took. Next to us at gate was a AA DC-10 going to LAX i think. wow