Thursday, January 28, 2010

Belize... the International Airport Experience

When I first landed in Belize in the early 1980s, the airport, in the (then) capital of Belize City, was little more than a single small building and airstrip lined with a bunch of British Harrier jump jets. One of those jets remains as a reminder in front of the terminal building of (BZE) Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (PGIA). Thanks to Darren's Page - KG Imagery LLC for the great photo. Does anyone have any older photos of the airport terminal and the jump jets?

Daily flight arrivals and departures for BZE can be tracked here. Wikipedia article on BZE here.  The Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (PGIA) was originally constructed in 1943, when a 5,000 feet asphalt runway, a taxiway and small apron were constructed.  In 1944, a terminal building was constructed and inaugurated on January 15, 1945.  Today, the PGIA boasts a 7,100 feet runway and 615,800 sq. ft. of parking apron... Expansion of the runway and apron to accommodate wide body, longer haul aircraft is in progress.

Barely two years after airport construction in 1945, this ad appeared in a major US newspaper (? NY Times)... still British Honduras and the capital is called Belize... not Belize City. Formerly known as British Honduras, until the name was changed in 1973.  Belize gained its independence September 1st, 1981 and was then admitted to the United Nations. The capitol city of Belize is now Belmopan... fifty miles inland.

TACA Airways System’s Central America – "Now, Taca offers daily, scheduled flights to Central America" (1947)

Those of us who fly in and out of PGIA with any regularity, get to know "Jet" at his famous Jet's Bar and hot dog stand... for a humorous bit of "flavor" of the departure waiting area at PGIA, have a look at this. Thanks to for the great blog. There must be a ton of other stories out there... send them in! And then there's this blog from the "Travel Boomer."


Wilma said...

Drew -- thanks for the history of the airport in Belize and the link to the review of Jet's Bar. It is my favorite international airport in all the world [except for our little international airport in Rochester, MN. The Rochester airport has no scheduled international flights and does customs and immigration "by appointment". LOL.] PGIA has more true character (and true characters, for that matter) than any other airport I have had the pleasure of visiting. It always feels like a homecoming when we arrive at PGIA and exile when we leave. cheers, Wilma

Drew Travers said...

Wilma... I had fun doing the post on PGIA. Thanks for the comment and your observations. Airports are like the "bus stations" of many years ago and they are just getting more (or sometimes less) funky as the countries of the world adjust to the realities of international travel! Jet is one of the true "characters" left on the planet. I think I will have a rum punch with him next time...

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