UMSL aviation expert talks to KSDK about Lambert Airport history

Daniel Rust, assistant director of the Center for Transportation Studies at UMSL, talks with KSDK (Channel 5) about the history of Lambert. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Daniel Rust, assistant director of the Center for Transportation Studies at UMSL, talks with KSDK (Channel 5) about the history of Lambert. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Have you ever wondered where Lambert-St. Louis International Airport gets its name?

“Most people, even in the St. Louis region, do not realize that Lambert-St. Louis International Airport played a starring role in all aspects of aviation from the airport’s inception in the 1920s,” said Daniel Rust, assistant director of the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. “Other American airports, such as those serving New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, lack both the longevity of Lambert and its range of historically significant aviation activity.

“For example, the earliest flight of a predecessor of American Airlines was flown between Chicago and Lambert Airport on April 15, 1926, by an obscure airmail pilot named Charles Lindbergh. Tens of thousands of civil and military aircraft, including the World War II-era C-46 transport, the first U.S. Navy jet fighter and the first U.S. manned spacecraft, were all built at Lambert. For over 80 years, Lambert was the scene of intensive military aviation activity, including the training of thousands of U.S. and British naval pilots in World War II. Lambert was one of the first U.S. airports with commercial jetliner service starting in the late 1950s, soon after the opening of Minoru Yamasaki’s iconic arched terminal.”

Rust recently talked with KSDK (Channel 5) about Lambert and the man behind the name.

“Yes, Albert Bond Lambert is the person whose name is on the airport. He’s the one who first selected the site,” Rust told KSDK. “In fact, Orville Wright taught him to fly in 1910.”

Lambert was the first person in St. Louis to have a pilot’s license and without him, according to Rust, Lindbergh’s famous flight probably wouldn’t have happened.

“(Lindbergh) went to Lambert here in St. Louis, and said, ‘Hey I have this idea’ and Lambert said, ‘Oh, I believe in you, and I’ll put the first $1,000 towards your endeavor,” Rust told the station. “And with that seed money others got on board and funded his flight and the rest is history so they say.”

Rust is currently working on a book as part of the Lambert Airport History Project of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society. The book, “Airfield of Dreams: Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and American Aviation,” will be published by the Missouri History Museum Press next year.

The UMSL Experience

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