Washington Dulles International Airport
A copy of the program from the grand opening of the airport on November 17, 1962.
Photo of the terminal for Dulles International Airport
Aerial view of Dulles International Airport
Stephen Kinzer, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War
Backstory and Context
Hoover Field was the main airport serving Washington, until 1941 when it was replaced by Washington National Airport. In 1948, the Civil Aeronautics Administration considered another airport to serve the Washington area. The Washington Airport Act was passed in 1950 by Congress to fund another airport for the area. The current site was chosen by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958. The name Dulles was chosen by Pete Quesada; who would later become the head of the FAA.
The lead contractor was the civil engineering firm Ammann and Whitney. On November 17, 1962, the airport was dedicated by President John F. Kennedy. When the airport opened it only had three runways, 1C/19C (11,500 ft.), 1R/19L (11,500 ft.), and 12/30 (10,501 ft.). In 1984, Dulles International Airport was changed to Washington Dulles International Airport. The main terminal at Dulles was designed by a famous Finnish-American architect known as Eero Saarinen; the terminal is highly regarded for its graceful beauty, suggestive of flight.
Incidents and Accidents
- There were three deaths during a nine-day air show held at Dulles in 1972.
- First death occurred on May 29, 1972, on the third day of the show. The pilot of a Kite Rider crashed when performing a stunt.
- The second death occurred on June 3, 1972. Pilots were competing in a sport plane pylon race when a trailing aircraft's wing and propeller hit the right wing tip of a leading aircraft, causing the right wing to rip off causing the pilot to lose control and crash.
- The third death occurred on June 4, 1972, on the last day of the air show. The pilot lost power during a vertical maneuver.
- TWA Flight 514 was diverting to Dulles on December 1, 1974, it crashed into Mount Weather and all the passengers and crew members died on impact.
- June 18, 1994, a Learjet 25 crashed in trees when approaching the airport; twelve people died.
- June 14, 1979, some of the tires blew out on an Air France flight causing shrapnel to fly damaging one of the engines, puncturing multiple fuel tanks.
- A little over a month later on July 21, 1979, another Air France flight blew some of it's tires during takeoff. This caused all Air France landing gear procedures to be reviewed and revised.
- September 11, 2001 attacks, American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked and was the plane that flew into the Pentagon.
- 1958 - Construction began
- 1962 - Main Terminal complete
- 1966 - Dulles handles more than 1 million passengers
- 1977 - Jet ramp expanded on the north side
- 1978 - Construction on main terminal additions begins
- 1982 - First economy parking lot opens
- 1983 - Access road to I-66 complete
- 1984 - Airport officially named Washington Dulles International Airport
- 1986 - Dulles handles more than 10 million passengers
President Ronald Reagan signed a bill transferring operation of Nation and Dulles to Airports Authority
- 1991 - International Arrival building opens
- 1992 - Main Terminal expansion begins
- 1996 - Main Terminal expansion completed; Terminal is 1,240 feet long and 1.1 million square feet
- 1998 - First permanent concourse opens with 20 gates - Concourse B
- 1999 - Airport acquires 1,000 acres for future expansion
19.8 million passengers travel through Dulles
- 2000 - 20 million passengers travel through Dulles
- 2004 - Walkway opens connecting Main Terminal to Concourse B
830 acres acquired for future expansion
- 2005 - New Air Traffic Control Tower completed
- 2007 - New Air Traffic Control Tower becomes operational on Sept. 17 by the FAA
- 2008 - Fourth runway opens on Nov. 20
- 2010 - AeroTrain System opens on January 26
- 2011 - Major expansion of International Arrivals building completed