When the United States Post Office opened its doors to Fresno in 1926, it didn’t have a word for “air travel.”
And until the TSA took over, that didn’t mean the world to the city’s residents.
So, in 1931, the airport was named after a famous passenger, the legendary Ernest Hemingway.
Fresno’s airport is still known today as “Hemingway Airport.”
It’s also the location of one of the busiest airports in the United Kingdom, home to the first British Airways flight to Los Angeles.
“Hemingway Airport was the largest airport in the world,” says Chris Dolan, president of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce.
“It was the gateway to the world, so it was one of our first choices for world travel.”
Hemingways favorite destination was in California.
He was a lifelong Fresno resident, who spent his childhood on his father’s farm.
But he was always thinking of the future, and when he landed in Fresno, he decided he wanted to do something different.
So he built the first airport in California, one that would be a model for other cities.
It was the airport he’d come back to again and again.
“I wanted to go somewhere new, and I didn’t want to go to a place where I was used to a lot of the things that are still happening there,” Hemingys son says.
“So I started looking for a place that would make the airport safer, so I could go to the airport and take the trains to wherever I wanted to be.”
Hemings son says it took a lot to convince the Post Office to allow the airport to open to the public.
“In 1929, the post office had just moved from New York to San Francisco, so the people who worked at the Post office and the people in the airport knew that Fresno was going to be a big city, and they knew that we wanted to make Fresno the best airport for flying,” he says.
So the Post opened a new facility on the north side of the airport.
The new facility, named the “Fresno Post Office” (and known as “Fropomay”) opened in 1928, and was designed to handle the mail for the new airport.
Heming was one half of the development team, with other engineers.
“The thing that was so exciting was that the people that worked on the new Fresno Post Office wanted to use the airport as a place to be,” Dolan says.
It had a small terminal, a few cars, and a few benches, but no restaurants.
The airport had a name and the airport would be known as Fresno.
The city was also excited about the new facility because of its proximity to the rail lines that went from Fresno to Los Angels.
“When we got there, we had no idea that the rail line would be so popular,” says Dolan.
“And we were in the early days of the airline, so there were no routes, and there were little airports, so you couldn’t really have the same amenities.”
But, in the years since the airport opened, the area has become a major hub for tourism and is known as the “Golden Triangle” for the vibrant restaurants and bars in the area.
“Fretting is a good word for the area,” says Jana Hahn, a travel agent in Fresno.
“We have lots of people who work in the city, who love to go out and see Fresno and Fresno airport, so we get a lot more tourists.”
“Frenchie has always been a hotbed of tourists,” says Dan Breen, owner of Fresno-based travel agency Fresno Travel Agency.
“They came out of Fresno, and Fresno was a place they wanted to visit.”
And while Fresno is not the best place to visit, it’s still a great choice for tourists.
“For Fresno to be an easy destination to visit in the summer, you’ve got to be at least a year or two away from Fresno,” Breen says.
And the airport has become an especially popular destination for the tourists.
In 2014, Fresno Tourism and Tourism Infrastructure Inc. (FUTI) launched Fresno Airport Travel, which launched its “Fremont Passport” program.
It offers free, one-way travel to the Fresno International Airport and offers a $20 credit toward Fresno-area hotels, and includes a complimentary, full-service hotel and taxi to any Fresno hotel.
“This is one of those things where, once you’ve gone and done it, you can go back and do it again,” says Breen.
“You just don’t have to get it a second time.
And Fresno is a place you can really go to and be a tourist.
And if you want to visit Fresno, it would be nice to do it in the right way.”
For more information about Fresno Airport, visit www.fresnob