HISTORY OF AIRLINE SERVICE AT COLUMBUS, GA
Part one: 1920s - 1950s
Air service at Columbus, Georgia dates back to June 1929 when Southern Air Express began tri-weekly flights along an Atlanta - Columbus - Montgomery route. These flights used the original Columbus Municipal Airport that was located south of the city along Victory Drive.
Eastern Air Lines inaugurated passenger service at Columbus, GA on August 1, 1944 as a stop between Atlanta and Montgomery, Alabama using Columbus Muscogee County Airport, now known simply as Columbus Airport. These short flights were segments of a multi-stop New York to Houston route flown once daily in each direction. Below: A highlighted excerpt from Eastern's 1944 Annual Report announcing the new service.
A crowd awaiting the arrival of the first Eastern Air Lines flight at Columbus' modest airport terminal on August 1, 1944. This and the following three photos are courtesy of David H. Stringer.
Columbus Mayor Sterling Albrecht (left)receiving the first shipment of Air Express from Eastern Air Lines station manager T.J. Peddy. Photo from the David H. Stringer collection.
Left to right: Eastern manager T.J. Peddy, Chairman of Muscogee County Commissioners L.R. Alridge, Postmaster Leighton McPherson and county attorney Bentley Chappell load mail on Eastern's first "Houston Flyer" flight on August 1, 1944. Photo from the David H. Stringer collection.
Ray Saffold, Eastern's first passenger at Columbus is welcomed aboard the first flight by stewardess Chancey Oven. A photo of Mr. Saffold celebrating the 30th anniversary of this flight can be seen in part two of the history of CSG. Photo from the David H. Stringer collection.
Nearly three years later, on July 1, 1947, Delta added Columbus as a stop along a new alternate route between Atlanta and Fort Worth. This article appeared in the July 2, 1947 Atlanta Constitution.
Columbus gained a third airline on June 25, 1949 when Southern Airways started multi-stop service between Atlanta and Jacksonville. The airline would also add an Atlanta - Charleston route via Columbus later in the year. The trio of Southern, Delta and Eastern dominated airline service at Columbus through the late 1970s. Timetable from the Craig Morris collection via timetableimages.com.
This aerial photo circa 1949 shows the airport with essentially the same basic X shape layout that still exists today with the passenger terminal located north of the intersection of runways 5/23 and 12/30. Photo from the Digital Library of Georgia.
Early 1950s view of a Delta DC-3 on the ramp at the newly constructed passenger terminal. Press photos from the Columbus Ledger Enquirer archives show the terminal under construction during 1949.
Here's a detail of the above photo. It's difficult to make out the tail number, but this appears to be ship 42, NC28342 (s/n 3279).
A map of Columbus Muscogee County Airport revised August 11, 1953. Courtesy of John Hewson.