Airport Virtual Walking Tour

St. Louis Lambert International Airport (IATA: STL, ICAO: KSTL, FAA LID: STL), formerly Lambert–St. Louis International Airport, is an international airport serving St. Louis, Missouri. Commonly referred to as Lambert Field or simply Lambert, it is the largest and busiest airport in Missouri.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport is one of the most historic airports in the United States.  It is named for Albert Bond Lambert (1875 -1946). He learned to fly with the Wright Brothers, received his pilot’s license in 1911, and served in the U.S. Army in World War I, reaching the rank of Major.  Throughout his life he worked tirelessly to make St. Louis a leader in aviation.

In 1920, Major Lambert and the Missouri Aeronautical Society leased 170 acres of farmland in St. Louis County to serve as an airfield for St. Louis. Major Lambert paid the rent and had the site cleared, graded and drained, and a hangar built at his own expense. He then offered free use of the field to anyone wishing to use it.  World War I veterans William and Frank Robertson accepted this offer, and began operation at what became known as St. Louis Flying Field.  In 1923, the Missouri National Guard formed the 110th Observation Squadron at the field, commanded by William Robertson.

Major Lambert was responsible for bringing the 1923 International Air Races to St. Louis, and the airfield was christened “Lambert St. Louis Flying Field” in recognition of his achievements.  Twenty-one year old pilot Charles Lindbergh flew to St. Louis to attend the Air Races, and decided to remain at Lambert as an instructor.  

When the lease expired in 1925, Major Lambert bought the airfield property.  In that year the Post Office awarded Robertson the contract for airmail service between Chicago and St. Louis, and they hired Charles Lindbergh as the chief pilot.   This mail route is the earliest predecessor of American Airlines. While flying the mail Lindbergh decided to seek the Orteig Prize for the first non-stop flight between New York and Paris. Major Lambert and other air-minded St. Louisans agreed to support him, and his May, 1927 flight aroused worldwide interest in aviation.

Black Americans in Flight is a mural that depicts African American aviators and their contributions to aviation since 1917. It is located in Terminal 1 / Main Terminal on the lower level near the entrance to gates C and D and baggage claim. The mural consists of five panels and measures 8 feet tall and 51 feet long. The first panel includes Albert Edward Forsythe and C. Alfred Anderson, the first black pilots to complete a cross-country flight, the Tuskegee Institute and the Tuskegee Airmen, Eugene Bullard, Bessie Coleman and Willa Brown (first African American woman commercial pilot in United States). The second panel shows Benjamin O. Davis Jr., Clarence “Lucky” Lester and Joseph Ellesberry. The third panel shows Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James, Capt. Ronald Radliff and Capt. Marcella Hayes. The fourth and fifth panels show Ronald McNair, who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, Guion Bluford, who in 1983 became the first African American in space, and Mae Jemison, the first African America woman in space. Spencer Taylor and Solomon Thurman created the mural in 1990.

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