ATLANTA AIRPORT'S FIRST PASSENGER TERMINAL
Commercial flights at Atlanta during the late 1920s picked up patrons from the early hangars, structures that were built to shelter and repair aircraft, not handle passengers. The first true passenger terminal at Candler Field was the Eastern Air Transport building opened in 1930. The building included a passenger depot, administrative offices and a hangar and was located on the eastern end of the row of airport buildings seen on previous pages. The photo below is the view from the aircraft apron. The door at left led from the parking lot to the ticket counter and waiting room. A covered patio can be seen to the right of that and served as the boarding area. The canopy at right led from the patio to the aircraft. The second floor of the building housed Eastern offices and the hangar can be seen in the background at right.
Ground was broken for the new building on Friday October 4, 1929. The facility was designed to house the expanding operations of Pitcairn Aviation which had outgrown the small hangar they had occupied at the center of the field since 1927. Pitcairn Aviation, Inc changed its name to Eastern Air Transport, Inc in January 1930. At left in this photo is Atlanta Airport's first manager Jack Gray. Mr. Gray managed the airport from 1929 until 1962, from the days of dirt runways through the early years of the jet age.
In slightly over 3 months, the steel frame of the hangar was in place and the adjoining administration building was nearly complete as seen in this photo from the January 26, 1930 Atlanta Constitution. During this period, writer Gene Hinton had a regular column about news and happenings at Candler Field.
This March 16, 1930 article shows the outdoor boarding area as seen from the waiting room at the new terminal. The gate at right led to the aircraft. Yes, the gate at the airport was literally the gate at the airport.
Employees pose in front of the nearly completed building in March 1930. The area in the foreground would become the parking lot.
This aerial photo from the March 30, 1930 Atlanta Constitution shows the new Eastern Air Transport hangar located on the site of the Beeler Blevins hangar that had been constructed only 2 1/2 years earlier. Blevin's hangar was presumably moved prior to the October 1929 groundbreaking for the E.A.T. building. Earlier in the month, the newspaper reported that the Blevins hangar and seventeen planes were destroyed in a fire on March 4, 1930, causing $140,000 in damage. (That would be about $2.1 million in 2020.) Blevin's hangar and his three aircraft were reportedly uninsured.
Within months of completion, Eastern began the addition of a second story to the building as seen in this October 12, 1930 article.
A view of the newly expanded building circa late 1930.
This is interior of Atlanta's first airport passenger terminal as it looked in late 1930. From this perspective, the parking lot is outside the door at center right and the aircraft would be parked outside the windows to the left. The door leading to the covered patio and gate seen in previous photos would be directly behind the photographer.
A Curtis Condor CO on the ramp of the E.A.T. building circa early 1931 showing the former Pitcairn hangar at center and the new American Airways hangar, on the site of the old Doug Davis hangar at left. (More about that on the next page.) The Condors entered service with Eastern in November 1930.
Yet another expansion project took place in 1931-1932 and a second story was added to the north end of the administration building.
This April 1933 view shows Eastern employees in front of the expanded facility. After Eastern constructed a much larger maintenance base in the early 1960s, this building was taken over by Southern Airways and a second, larger hangar was added to the south end of the former boarding area. The entire complex was demolished along with the 1961 "Jet Age" terminal in 1984. This area is now a parking lot for Delta employees.