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Your copy of the "Davis-Monthan Airfield Register" with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-0-1.


The source for this page is the book titled, "Airports and Established Landing Fields in the United States, 1933", published by The Airport Directory Company, Hackensack, NJ. Refer to page 21 of that book.


As of 02/01/10, this page is Google rank #2.


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United Airport, Burbank, CA, ca. 1933

United Airport, or United Air Terminal, at Burbank, CA in 1933 boasted a, "Five-finger asphalt paved runway system, directional N/S, E/W, and NE/SW, each 3,650 ft. x 300 ft."

As well, it had 130 acres of alfalfa landing turf and concrete taxi and hangar strips. The image on the right, from 1933, shows all of these amenities.

The airport was located 11.5 miles northwest of Los Angeles, adjacent to the Southern Pacific Railroad route.

Complete aircraft and pilot services were available, including fuel, oil and storage day and night, repairs, spares and accessories, fire apparatus, service trucks and first aid. It had five steel and concrete hangars (with "UNITED" and "BURBANK" written on the roofs), a restaurant, lounge, barber shop and rest rooms. Bus fare from the airfield to Los Angeles was $1.00. It had 24-hour air travel, information and ticket sales.

United Airport must have been a wonderful place at night. It was well-equipped with pilot guidance devices. White boundary lights, a 64-million candle power flood lighting system, red obstacle lights, green approach lights, a green/amber/white rotating beacon and a lighted wind sock were installed. During daylight, a smoke wind indicator operated at the runway intersections.

United was the base for several government and commercial operations. The U.S. Weather Bureau and U.S. Department of Commerce Aeronautics Branch offices were located there. A U.S. Airmail Post Office was on the field, as was Western Union's Postal and Telegraph Branches.

Commercial transport operators maintained ground stations there, including United Air Lines Radio Ground Station ("KEU"), American Airways Radio Ground Station ("KGUR"), and Western Air Express Radio Ground Station ("KSI"). What was it like to board a United Airlines aircraft? The photograph below, courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOC), illustrates the covered walkway to a departing aircraft. The airplane in this case is the United Airlines Boeing 247 NC13345, S/N 1727 (not a Register airplane).

Passengers Boarding United Airlines Boeing 247 NC13345, Pre-1934 (Source: LOC)
Passengers Boarding United Airlines Boeing 247 NC13345, Pre-1934 (Source: LOC)

Notice the rails in the foreground. They allowed the "Passengers Only" protective canopy to be rolled in and out.

The business tenants at United Airport were leaders in Golden Age aviation. Besides the three transport lines listed in the paragraph above, Bird Aircraft Co., Consolidated-Fleet Aircraft Co. (Reuben Fleet signed the Register in 1929), Stearman Aircraft Corp., Waco Aircraft Co., Western Air Express and Varney Speed Lines were located there. An assortment of flying clubs and maintenance facilites were also present.


Below, from Popular Aviation (PA) magazine, June, 1935, are two photographs of United Airport. United Airlines is cited as a main resident. The view in this image, compared to the image above, appears to be of Hangar #1 with the camera being pointed to the left looking down the 3,000' x 300' paved runway. Note the people and automobilesaround the Burbank City Park, as well as the airplanes in rank on the opposite side.

United Airport, Burbank, CA, Popular Aviation, June, 1935 (Source: PA)
United Airport, Burbank, CA, Popular Aviation, June, 1935 (Source: PA)

The second image, below, is of the terminal building from the front.

United Airport, Burbank, CA, Popular Aviation, June, 1935 (Source: PA)

Below, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM), is an undated photograph of the terminal and surrounding areas. This must have been a major event, given the numbers of automobiles and aircraft present. The canopy on rails in the photograph just above would be moved out from under the roofed structure in the foreground to greet aircraft and passengers on the "UNITED AIRPORT" pad.

United Airport, Pre-1934 (Source: SDAM)

This photograph was taken diagonally opposite from the 1935 Popular Aviation image, above.


United Airport was renamed Union Air Terminal in 1934. It was United Airport from 1930–1934, and Union Air Terminal from 1934–1940. Interestingly, Register pilot Dudley Steele managed Union Air Terminal beginning in 1937. Below, from site visitor Tim Kalina, a 1934 photograph of the terminal building from the runway side. Note the rotating beacon on the top, and flood lights around the base of the cupola.

Union Air Terminal, 1934 (Source: Kalina)
Union Air Terminal, 1934

Photo owner Kalina states, "Written, in pencil, on the back of the photo is ‘Burbank Airport. December 1934’. Since the airfield was sold in 1934 the correct title would be Union Air Terminal. Before that the field was owned by United Transport and known as United Air Terminal."

A nice, short history of the United Airport, along with an airport diagram from 1930, can be found here. Note, the image of the terminal at the link is from the front entrance. The image above is the rear entrance from the aircraft landing, ramp and taxi areas. Note the flood lights arrayed around the cupola.


UPLOADED: 05/06/05 REVISED: 01/15/06, 01/30/09, 06/29/14, 12/04/14, 02/03/16

The Register
Who Went to Burbank United Airport?
Thirty-eight pilots who landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield called Burbank their Homebase.

Twenty-one pilots arrived at Davis-Monthan Airfield from Burbank, and 12 listed it as their final Destination.

---o0o--- Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of and the 10th year of effort on the project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.



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