Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (‘PHX’) in Postcards

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Written by Marvin G. Goldman

‘Sky Harbor’ Airport, named by the owner of the original Scenic Airways, opened in Phoenix, Arizona, in early 1929 with one modest runway. It was soon nicknamed ‘The Farm’ because of its rural, isolated location. Its first scheduled passenger flight was operated by Maddux Air Lines on 23 February 1929. The City of Phoenix acquired the airport from its developer six years later, on 16 July 1935.

The airport’s first modern terminal was Terminal 1 which opened, together with the first control tower, in 1952. The control tower became an iconic symbol of the airport at that time.

‘Phoenix Sky Harbor Municipal Airport’ soon after its opening in 1952. Curteich no. 3C-H898, distributed by Lollesgard Specialty, Phoenix. On the ramp you can see two American Airlines DC-6s, a TWA Constellation, and a DC-3. The postcard back says “Its unique Control Tower, one of the world’s tallest, over 125 ft. in height and built of a steel tube 9 ft. in diameter, is the first of its kind in the world”.
Closeup of the Terminal 1 Control Tower, 1950s. Pub’r Petley Studios, Phoenix, no. C10786.
Beechcraft Queen Air 65, N110Q, with passengers arriving at Phoenix Sky Harbor, 1960. Promotional postcard issued by Beechcraft.

In 1962 Terminal 2 opened, a major and modern addition with 19 gates. That same year Sky Harbor handled one million passengers for the first time. In 2019 more than 46 million passengers utilized the airport.

Ramp view showing Terminal 2 which opened in 1962, with a mix of jet and prop aircraft at the gates, including TWA and American 707s. Terminal 1 is in the background. Pub’r Petley Studios, no. C15570, color photo by Mike Roberts.
Parking and entrance view showing Terminal 1 in foreground and Terminal 2 in background. Pub’r Petley Studios, Mike Roberts photo, no. B847. Ex Allan Van Wickler collection.
Interior waiting room at Terminal 2. The back wall features a 3-panel, 3-dimensional mural by Paul Coze, a Phoenix artist, with the center panel displaying a mythological ‘Phoenix’ bird. Pub’r Petley Studios, no. 66283.
American Airlines Boeing 737-200, N459AC, at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Pub’r Terrell Pub. Co., nos. 1699 and 02890042, photo by Ken Raveill.

Terminal 1 was demolished in 1991 (except the iconic control tower was relocated to Cutter Aviation in the general aviation section of the airport), and Terminal 2 was closed on 4 February 2020. The airport’s website states that the noted Coze mural of Terminal 2 was saved for display in the Rental Car Center in 2021.

Terminal 3 with an additional concourse of 23 gates, and a new control tower and large parking garage, all opened in 1979. Since then portions have been modernized, and an additional concourse opened in 2019. In that year Terminal 3 was officially named the ‘John S. McCain III Terminal’.

Aerial view of Terminal 3, its concourses, the parking garage, and the control tower that opened in 1979. Downtown Phoenix can be seen in the distance. Pub’r Petley Studios, no. X115599, photo by Don Ceppi. The 1979 control tower has since been replaced by a more modern one that opened in 2006.

Terminal 4, the largest of the airport’s terminals, opened in November 1990. Originally having 44 gates, it now has 86, with several concourses. It is also known as the ‘Barry M. Goldwater Terminal’.

United Airlines 737-500, N957UA at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Pub’r: Mary Jayne’s no. MJ1226, issued in 1994 with photo sourced from Ken Bateman.
Southwest Airlines 737-300, N383SW, in special ‘Arizona’ livery, at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Pub’r ljm 15, no. 09/94b, photo by Fliteline/B. Shane.

Notes: All postcards shown are in the author’s collection except for the Beechcraft and United cards. The Beechcraft postcard is uncommon, and the rest are fairly common.

Best wishes for the success of Airliners International 2021 PHX,
Marvin Goldman

Trackback from your site.

Comments (2)

  • Avatar

    Stephen McGourty

    |

    Thanks so much for the Great memories of the 1960’s. My Father was with American 🇺🇸 Airlines in operations. Great place to grow up & visit Sky Harbor!

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Ken Miller

    |

    Great Postcards and descriptions Marvin. I’ll look for the Paul Coze mural in the rental car center.

    Reply

Leave a comment

45th Airliners International™

 Chicago, IL

June 23-25, 2022
The World's Largest Airline Collectibles
 Show &
Convention will be in
Chicago, Illinois in 2022!

WAHS LogoWorld Airline Historical Society, Inc.
PO Box 13693, Tampa, FL 33616 USA
Contact Us

Archives