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Flashback Fridays: Love Field A Month Before DFW Opened

Aviator C

It probably doesn’t keep you awake at night, but it is of comfort to me that I am not the only person my age who is a total aviation (and railroad) geek.  You might find several folks of either persuasion, but finding one with both qualities is exceedingly rare.  Fortunately, George Hamlin is such a person.  We are about the same age, and George’s father-n-law worked for an airline.  At a young age, we both had an innate sense to know when our surroundings were changing, and when familiar things would become historical rarities.  For example, the new Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (DFW) opened on January 13, 1974.  If memory serves me right, that was a Sunday.  On Friday evening January 11, I took my camera to Love Field’s wonderful observation deck to record the scene for posterity.  Unfortunately, I was shooting black and white film and had a camera without a telephoto lens.  Half the country away, George also knew that aviation in North Texas would be forever changed when DFW opened, and he nonreved down here in December 1973 to spend a day at Love Field to record Love’s last few days as the primary airport in the area.  George had a nice Nikon and a telephoto lens, and his color shots provide a nice Flashback Friday perspective.  George graciously has given us permission to use some of his photos for this post.

Back in 1973, Boeing 707s were still common aircraft.  The view above features no less than four examples of the four-engine classic Boeing.  The 707 on the left is being pushed back from the West Concourse, which is our current concourse at Love.  Don’t worry, we will get back to that scene on the North Concourse later.

Over on the East Concourse above, we see two Continental DC-9-15s at the airline’s gates.  In the background are some Texas International and Ozark aircraft.  My father was Continental’s Station Manager at this time.

Texas International had built a single-story extension off the East Concourse to house their operation, which featured DC-9-30s and Convair 600 turboprops.  Even at this relatively late date, the Convair on the right wears an older livery.

Braniff was the largest carrier at Love Field, and their 727-200 above is taxiing past their maintenance base.  (The building still stands.)

Three airlines operated 747s into Love at this time, American, Delta, and Braniff.  Above, we see the Braniff pumpkin heading out for its nonstop trek to Honolulu.  Notice that the driver on the bag tug has stopped to watch the view.  About a year and a half before this photo, I had taken my first 747 flight in this aircraft.

Prior to the introduction of the 747, the largest airliner was the “stretch eight.”  The airplane pushing back is a Delta DC-8-61, and if my memory serves me correctly, it held about 240 passengers.  This aircraft would later be re-engined with the same CFM engines that are on the 737-700. You wouldn't believe the amount of freight, mail, and bags that fit in those long, long cargo bins.

And finally, I have saved the best for last.  Here is a rare color photo of N22SW, one of the three original Southwest aircraft parked at the far end of the North Concourse next to two American 707s.  It is parked at an out of service gate.  Note that the cargo bins are closed.  The air stairs are extended on the far side of the aircraft, and if you look closely, you can see a Maintenance step ladder next to the air stairs, along with a Company pickup truck.  It looks like this is where the fuel hydrant trucks were parked also.

This is the same scene a few months ago as the North Concourse was razed for the terminal modernization, which is currently underway.