Bangor International Airport 50th Anniversary

Page 1

C e le b rat ing


yea r s

BG R Fast Facts

Aviat i o n Hi sto ry

BGR has an 11,440 foot runway – long enough to accommodate any aircraft flying today including the Antonov 225 and the Airbus 380

12 million

BGR ramp space equals 12 million square feet which equals 250 football fields BGR has all-weather CAT III access & BGR is also open when most of the other airports in the northeast are closed thanks to its great Snow Team – the most snow recorded in one season at BGR is 132 inches

BGR is the closest international airport to Europe making it a strategic location in the aviation industry especially for trans-Atlantic technical stops and diversions


BGR has only had 5 directors in 50 years – directors William DePuy, Peter D’Errico, Bob Ziegelaar, Rebecca Hupp, and Anthony Caruso BGR is a joint use airfield with Maine Air National Guard’s 101st Refueling Wing

1919 – H.M. McGrew landed a Curtis Biplane in a field near what is now BGR 1923 – On August 19th, General Bill Mitchell, often referred to as the father of the US Air Force, landed the entire US Army Air Corp on the fields owned by T.W. Morse and F.A. Rick which later became Godfrey Field. There were 18 Martin bombers and 11 DeHavilland scout planes. This was the greatest number of planes ever parked on Godfrey Field. He is reported to have said at a Rotary meeting while in Bangor, “I see a great future for Bangor as an air base. It is a natural air center, and is ideally suited as an airdrome.” 1931 – Pan-American Airways came to Bangor with service between Boston and Halifax with a stop in Bangor. When the government did not renew their mail contract they ceased operations. 1933 – In August, Amelia Earhart inaugurated the start of the Boston & Maine Airways (later becoming Northeast Airlines) service from Boston to Bangor. She came to Bangor to promote the airline and encourage women to become involved in aviation.

Is i t BI A o r B GR ? Bangor International Airport was for many years always referred to as BIA. In the 80’s and 90’s Bangor International’s advertising campaigns promoting the airport and its routes used its official International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) designation of BGR. BGR has always been the ICAO designation because BIA was taken. BIA is the ICAO designation for an airport in Bastia, France – it is on an island in the Mediterranean off the coasts of France and Italy. BGR has been the airport’s branded name for advertisements, promotions, brochures, and documents for the last 30+ years.

Aviation Was Important to Bangor Before There Was Bangor International Airport

1940 – The Maine Military Defense Commission announced that it was considering the development of the field in Bangor as a forward auxiliary base for a new field being built in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Engineering again started and was to be completed by June 1941. 1941 –Field opened as an active military flying field. Probably 2,500 personnel were on site. 1942 – The airport was named Dow Field, in honor of 2nd Lieutenant James F. Dow of Houlton, killed in a training exercise in New York June 17, 1940. 1942-1945 – Dow Field became an 2nd Lt. James F. Dow important link in the Air transport Command - a stopping point for tactical bombers, fighters, and transport planes.


1945 – December 30, 1945 it was announced that the base was to go inactive. In January 1946 the date of March 31, 1946 was announced as the closing date.



1936 – In January, the public met to discuss developing the Bangor Airport into a modern Municipal Airport suitable for landing high speed planes. The city council appropriated $30,000 to be used along with $68,000 from the Federal Government towards building a modern airport. Work started on May 25th to rebuild the two existing runways and add lighting. Work continued until the fall of 1937.

Amelia Earhart came to Bangor in 1933 to inaugurate the start of the Boston & Maine Airways Service.

1947 – Reactivation of Dow Field but Northeast Airlines was required to leave. They began operating out of Old Town.



Congratulations to Bangor International Airport. This marks half a century of its contribution to aviation, to the State of Maine, and, in fact, to the entire nation. Its history is something in which all of Maine can take pride. That’s the key point during this 50-year celebration: Bangor International has always been an outstanding economic contributor to not only Maine, but to all of America. Prior to its establish-

ta b l e o f c o n t e n t s

ment as a commercial airport, Dow Army Air Base (later Dow Air Force Base) played a key role in winning World War Two, being a major center for the Air Transport Command, which kept the supply lifeline open to Europe. While we pause to look back at the history of Bangor International, it’s also exciting to consider the future, and how the airport will continue to evolve as an important part of the infra-

Foreword. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Publisher’s Note . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Transitioning to Civilian Use. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

structure America needs to compete in the global economy. Fifty years on, Bangor International is far more than a pas-

William Depuy: June 1968 – Fall 1969 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

senger airport. It is the site of 21st century economic development and of expanding global logistics. Just take a look at the

Peter D’Errico: February 1970 – September 1990 . . . .


industries and businesses that have established themselves at Bangor International. But what’s there today is just the starting point. Even a cursory glance at the trade and travel trends in the global economy, and we can confidently foresee another 50 years of growth and economic leadership generated by this world-class airport. During my time with Bar Harbor Airlines, I myself was honored to be able to live in Bangor and work in conjunction with Bangor International. Even back then, the future of the airport

BGR Timeline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24-25 Bob Ziegelaar: March 1991 – April 2001 . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Rebecca Hupp: December 2001 – March 2012 . . . . . . . 36 Tony Caruso: June 2012 – Present . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

was clear. Going forward, with new-technology aircraft and new air trade logistics between North America and all other parts of the world, Bangor will be a key player. Please enjoy reading about the proud track record of Bangor International. But keep in mind, this is just the first 50 years of exciting contribution to Maine and to the US economy. There’s a lot more coming. Michael J. Boyd President, Boyd Group International

Written by Brian Swartz Designed by Sage Solutions


BGR – The Next 50 Years

publisher’s note

I was asked to write about BGR and the next 50

BGR will also be further included in local, re-

years. What will the next half century bring? What

gional and state economic efforts. As our role as an

will be BGR’s role? My crystal ball is as hazy as

intermodal transportation point grows, BGR can be

anyone else’s, but there are areas where BGR can

utilized as a logistics cluster or hub. The direct and

play major roles.

indirect ramifications will have long lasting positive

New challenges and opportunities are always on the horizon. The key is to identify and steer

effects on our economy. Supporting this industry and job growth is vital.

around, or manage through, the challenges, and to

BGR will continue to play the role as a diversion

explore and take advantage of the opportunities.

and emergency airport. Our geographic location

Every industry has been struck by significant chal-

continues to make this a reality, supported by our

lenges, and aviation is certainly no stranger to that.

facilities, equipment and personnel. Investments

However, it’s those organizations that can survive

in each of these pillars will need to be supported

and adapt (yes, I said change!) who will prosper.

as BGR continues to position itself for this, and

As BGR has shown over each previous decade, it

other, important roles in the aviation industry. BGR

has been able to adapt and play significant roles

will play an even more important role in support-

in our industry. Whether it’s being utilized as an

ing military operations, both domestic and foreign.

emergency diversion point, or as a military transit

With the support of the Maine Air National Guard

point, or as a technical stop for Federal Inspection

101st Air Refueling Wing, BGR has the expertise to

Services, BGR has served in important roles.

handle these types of operations. The partnership

In the more recent past, BGR has been able to become more fiscally sound and has strengthened

between the 101st and the airport is crucial to the success of both organizations.

key business segments. This will serve the airport

BGR’s history has been strengthened by good

well as it prepares for aviation over the next 50

employees. This continues today, and will be even

years. BGR will continue to help support economic

more important tomorrow. Employees who take

growth in our region supported by strong air ser-

ownership and pride in the airport are the lifeblood

vice. By providing this global access, customers

of the organization. This has been evident the past

will more easily connect with the world, and the

50 years and will be crucial over the next 50 years.

world will more easily connect with our region.

I am proud and honored to have worked beside my

While BGR is part of the City of Bangor structure,

fellow City employees to make the airport what

the airport will serve as a regional and global asset

it is today, and am excited to see all that we can

and transit point for people and cargo. The logis-

accomplish together in the future.

tical advantages of BGR should be utilized and enhanced as we become a more intermodal trans-

Anthony P. Caruso Jr., C.M.

portation point.

Airport Director

Transitioning to Civilian Use

T h e 1 9 6 4 D e pa r t m e n t o f D e f e n s e announcement that Dow Air Force Base would close stunned Bangor city officials. However, rather than wait until Dow officially vanished in summer 1968, they went after potential post-military business for the proposed Bangor International Airport. Ironically, until that fateful Pentagon notice, Bangor could only market “the industriousness of our people and the area’s many recreation benefits,” noted University of Maine College of Business Administration professors David H. Clark and John D. Coupe in a 1967 report. “For the first time this city has something tangible to offer out-of-state developers — our airport and its buildings,” the professors concluded. Dow Reuse Coordinator Peter D’Errico (also Bangor’s economic development director) believed the base’s geographical location could appeal to international airlines. “Dow is right on the Great Circle route,” and those airlines “fly right over us every day,” he explained. “I would like to see the development of Dow to handle this international air traffic,” D’Errico said. Military personnel arriving in Bangor for long-term assignments at Dow Air Force Base were provided various guidebooks to the Bangor area, including this colorful guide printed by the Bangor Publishing Company. (Bangor Public Library)

In that pre-jumbo jet era, passenger jets carried little fuel to spare for crossing the Atlantic. While touring Dow on November 29, 1967, Air Alitalia officials noted that a USA-bound trans-Atlantic flight placed on “a two-hour [landing] hold in New York must land and refuel at a Canadian airport (usually Halifax),” said D’Errico. Passengers could not disembark “because of customs.” But Bangor would offer aircraft refueling and Customs clearance effective July 1, 1968. Liking



A woman and three children watch in late August 1967 as passengers disembark from a Northeast Airlines turboprop at the Dow Air Force Base domestic terminal located just off Union Street in Bangor. Northeast, which had plenty of passengers but not much indoor space that summer, apologized to its customers. Local Northeast terminal manager Richard Kiah said the airline’s present building was designed to accommodate 10-passenger planes. Jet aircraft carrying over 100 persons now dock there, though. Next fall the city will open a new terminal at Dow. Depicting the proposed terminal, the sign was made possible through the joint efforts of the Bangor Chamber of Commerce, the City of Bangor, and Northeast Airlines. (BDN/Danny Maher)

the idea, Air Alitalia officials ob-

can’t afford to buy,” said D’Errico.

advice as events proved. Only time would shake out which lessees would stay and which would fade. Already the University of Maine had proposed creating a South Campus at Dow. Other businesses expressed interest in the airport; like a professional gambler holding his

tained Federal Aviation Administra-

Five weeks later, U.S. Sen. Edmund

cards close to his chest on a Missis-

tion approval to use Bangor as an al-

S. Muskie entered the article into the

sippi River steamboat, Dow Reuse

ternate to landing at major airports

Congressional Record and praised

Committee members kept the inqui-

in Boston and New York.

Bangor for responding “in a positive

ries hush-hush.

Civil aviation intensified at Dow before the Air Force left. Northeast

way” to “the trauma” of Dow’s impending closure.

The post-Dow planning continued apace that frigid winter. State

Airlines carried out training flights

Of course, Dow boasted more

and local officials met with U.S. Sec-

(“take off and landing passes,” accord-

than a 11,400-foot runway and

retary of Agriculture Orville Freeman

ing to the press) in winter 1967-68.

multiple refueling points on the

at Dow on a bitter Wednesday, Feb-

Word spread about Bangor’s avia-

heavy-duty ramp. The Dow Reuse

ruary 21, 1968 for a free-wheeling

tion potential, and Business Week

Committee also started marketing

discussion of Maine’s economy. After

sent a journalist and photographer to

350,000 square feet of “industrial

listening to Governor Ken Curtis and

visit Dow in late December 1967.

buildings” on 193 acres not tied to

other political and business leaders,

aviation activities.

Freeman said the Dow closure “was

The article ran in Business Week on January 27, 1968. “That’s the type of publicity we

D’Errico cautioned against leasing those buildings “willy-nilly,“ sage

being turned into a tremendous economic potential.”

Despite the ongoing transfer of

The Bangor City Hospital would

B-52 Stratofortresses and KC-135

move from Main Street to the new,

Air Force dormitories. On June 10, Bangor city coun-

Stratotankers from Dow, some mili-

brick-built Air Force hospital on Texas

cilors authorized creating an airport

tary operations would remain. Flying

Avenue. The light-duty ramp needed

department to manage Dow, by now

F-89J Scorpions jet fighters, a T-33

resurfacing, and the state would pay

routinely called Bangor International

jet trainer, and a C-54 Skymaster

50 percent of the $150,000 budgeted

Airport or simply “the airport” by local

transport, the 101st Fighter Intercep-

for a temporary passenger terminal.

media. Trans East Airlines of Man-

tor Wing, Maine Air National Guard,

Bangor planned to build a sepa-

expanded its physical footprint on the

rate two-story, 50,000-square-foot

Union Street side of Dow, and the Air

passenger terminal alongside the

Force announced that a 60th Fighter



a circulating rumor: Trans East Air-



Merle Goff said on Monday, May 6.

lines would move its offices and some

with six F-101B Voodoos and 200

Projected to cost $2.4 million, the

60 employees to BGR by late 1968

military personnel would stay at Dow

terminal would offer “all necessary

and would provide air service from

for the present.

facilities and services,” a reporter

Bangor to other cities.




And the Maine Army National

noted. A road built along Dow’s origi-

Guard committed to transferring its

nal east-west runway would connect

Aviation Battery and helicopters from

the terminal with Union Street.

Augusta to Bangor later in 1968.

chester, New Hampshire was named as BGR’s fixed-based operator. A few days later, Goff confirmed

Venerable Northeast Airlines had done so for years. The June pages vanished from

By early May, Lufthansa, Pan

desk calendars. Leaving D’Errico and

On April 5, more than 1,500 peo-

American and Scandinavian Airlines

Goff to talk with the press, newly

ple stood beneath low gray clouds to

System (SAS) had expressed inter-

hired Airport Manager William Depuy

watch as the last B-52 and KC-135

est in Dow as an alternate landing

worked behind the scenes so Dow’s

taxied to the end of the runway near-

field, and Beal Business College

transition to Bangor International

est Odlin Road. The wind intensified

and the city had signed a 10-month

would occur smoothly on July 1, 1968.

and rain now splattered Bangor as the

lease so the private school could

B-52 started rumbling along the run-

house some 100 students in existing

Depuy had his work cut out for him.

way at 11 a.m. The KC-135 launched its takeoff roll a minute later. A reporter remembered it as “an emotional moment.” Suddenly the KC-135 roared over Dow from the west; the tanker’s pilots dipped one wing, and a minute later the B-52 “came straight down the runway at unbelievable low level and dipped both wings in a final salute” to Bangor and Dow. By then, city officials had a good handle on what costs Bangor would incur when Dow reverted to civilian use. Bangor must hire 70 people to fill the civilian jobs necessary to keeping the airport open and safe, and the Bangor Fire Department would take over the base fire station.

President Johnson made a brief stop and shook a few hands at BGR in 1966.



W i l l i a m D e p uy June 1968 – Fall 1969

A n t i c i pat i o n g r i p p e d B a n g o r i n June 1968 as “the city goes into the air business,” the Bangor Daily News explained the excitement rippling through the Queen City. Private planes would start using Bangor International Airport on Monday, July 1. However, Bangor would “not technically own Dow” while the property-transfer documents wound their way through the federal bureaucracy, cautioned Airport Manager William Depuy. Washington had sent the city an occupancy permit, so over at the Hammond Street gatehouse at 8 a.m., July 1, Air Force Sergeant Stanley Ward saluted a city contingent encompassing Bangor Police Sergeant John Agnew, Rita Baron, Nina Leeman, and Helen Ward. Ward then executed an about face and left his

William M. Depuy served as the airport manager during the airport’s crucial first year. He left in the fall of 1969 to take a position in Boston managing an anticipated second airport. “Bangor International has a 7 to 10 year jump on all other airports on the East Coast. I hope that I have contributed something to that jump.”

post. A similar hand-over occurred at the gatehouse located at Union Street and Vermont Avenue. That evening outside Base Operations, acting base commander Lieutenant Colonel John Booth officially turned Dow over to several city officials, including Mayor Norman Minsky and City Manager Merle Goff. Bangor International Airport was officially open for business. Around 20 civilian planes landed during the day. A Trans East flight departed BGR in midmorning for NYC. A 727 and crew from Northeast Airlines practiced landings for a few hours. Overall, Monday was a “quite routine opening day,” said Depuy, who had managed the transition

of Grenier Air Force Base to civilian


status in Manchester, New Hampshire before moving to Bangor with his wife, Connie, and their four children: Lisa, John, Fred, and Linda.

Aviation World magazine described Depuy as “a tall, sandy-haired former Air Force pilot of 36 with an easy manner. “As excited as he is about the airport, Depuy is just as enthusiastic about what came the city’s way when Dow was closed,” Aviation World writer Alan M. Merrill commented. For Depuy, the biggest opening glitch at BGR involved the existing

The “Welcome To Bangor” sign was out for jet aircraft utilizing the refueling and other services at Bangor International Airport on Thursday, July 10, 1969. (BDN/Jack Loftus)

terminal, a wood-frame building set

inspector would be on duty. When

August saw Pan American Air-

up near Union Street, approximately

an international charter flight sought

lines commit to refueling two flights

where a bank branch stands today.

permission to land at BGR on July 4,

per week at BGR. Based on its crew’s

Bursting with a Northeast Airlines

Depuy denied the pilot permission;

experience at Bangor, Air France was

counter, a snack bar, and two car-

U.S. Customs was not available at

definitely “interested in using the air-

rental firms, the terminal would bet-

Bangor on that holiday.

port for all Boeing 707 trans-Atlantic

ter serve a Third World air strip, not a brand new international airport.

City officials swiftly requested

flights,” Goff told the press.

through Congressman William D.

On Thursday, August 29, a Saturn

According to Depuy, the city

Hathaway (D-Maine) a meeting

Airways DC Stretch 8 inbound from

would remodel an existing fire station

with the senior Customs brass in

Brussels scooped up 6,000 gallons

into a temporary terminal while plans


of fuel at BGR; local media heralded

proceeded for building a modern terminal next to the heavy-duty ramp. Then the feds started monkeywrenching


Meanwhile, the University of

the airliner as the “biggest plane ever

Maine received a federal license to

to land in Bangor.” Northeast Air-

take over around 50 buildings and

lines sent two “Yellowbirds” (airliners


200 BGR acres for a South Campus.

painted lemon yellow) to BGR to train

Claiming they lacked the funds to

Acting UMaine President Winthrop

jet pilots in a new flight school, and

take over the control tower, Federal

Libby indicated that four Air Force

suddenly the roar of jets returned to

Aviation Administration officials es-

dormitories would house UMaine stu-

the Bangor skies.

sentially told Bangor, “Let the Air

dents, while a fifth dormitory would

When he had time to speak with

Force continue running it.” The FAA

house 100 students attending the

the press, Depuy acknowledged the

would show up when it felt financially

fledgling Eastern Maine Vocational

airport’s growing pains. The loudest


Technical Institute.

public complaint involved the exist-

And with international airlines

The airport went truly “interna-

ing terminal, now jammed with Bar

wanting to use BGR, U.S. Customs

tional” when a 165-passenger Air

Harbor Airways and Northeast Air-

officials proved “skeptical that there

France 707 flying from Paris to NYC

lines passengers. People demanded

is a realistic demand” for stationing

landed at Bangor to refuel on Mon-

a larger facility, but plans to spend

additional Customs personnel in Ban-

day, August 12. The passengers re-

$175,000 to renovate the former base

gor, according to the BDN.

mained aboard the jet because of a

fire station into a temporary terminal

lack of Customs personnel.

went awry when the U.S. Economic

Some shifts, only one Customs


Development Administration diverted

“The congestion problems that

those state-and-local funds toward

New York has had this past summer

building a modern terminal, priced at

makes it all the better for us,” Depuy

$2.4 million.

told Aviation World.

So with city approval, Depuy

Suddenly, good news about BGR

asked the five businesses (North-

dominated the Bangor press. The

east, Trans East, Avis, Hertz, and Na-

FAA finally took over BGR’s flight-

tional) planning to lease space in the

control tower on October 1, and a

temporary terminal to pay their rent

few days later Hathaway informed

early. The $25,000 launched reno-

the delighted Depuy and Goff that

vations that resulted in a 14,000-

Customs had committed to station-

square-foot terminal and a 252-s-

ing more personnel at the airport.

pace parking lot.

The international arrivals building at Bangor International Airport was packed on Thursday, September 4, 1969 as returning vacationers cleared Customs and immigration before flying on to their homes. There were 10 refueling diversions from New York due to weather. (BDN/Jack Loftus)

General Electric is Bangor International Airport’s longest tenant, having unveiled plans on October 29, 1968 to lease three BGR buildings where they began manufacturing steam-turbine rotors and other components.

Work progressed on the tempo-

“Most important of all, we are

rary terminal, guaranteed to generate

going from a jammed aircraft parking

$75,000 in rental income for Bangor

area to an unlimited parking area for

when fully occupied. City officials

planes,” Depuy said.

scarcely contained their palpable joy

Made famous by Army aviators

about a “major new industry” poised

during World War II, Pilot’s Grill echoed

to occupy an airport building; despite

with speeches and small talk in mid-

the best Goff-containment efforts,

September as city officials hosted a

word spread on the street that Gen-

BGR “open house” for “representa-

eral Electric was Bangor bound.

tives of some 20 airlines,” according to

The rumor was correct. On Octo-

the press. Among the airlines present

ber 29, GE unveiled plans to lease three

were British Overseas Air Carrier, Pan

BGR buildings, hire about 130 people,

Am, SAS, and Swissair.

and start manufacturing steam-tur-

With trans-Atlantic air travel in-

bine rotors and other components.

creasing in autumn 1968, Logan In-

The first Bangor-made GE rotor was

ternational in Boston and Kennedy

shipped in early August 1969.

International in New York grew con-

December brought news that the

gested. Arriving airliners often spent

Dead River Company would lease two

time circling overhead until gates

BGR buildings and that the General

opened; passengers fumed at the

Services Administration would give

landing delays, and the wasted fuel

the former Dow hospital to Bangor

cost the airlines money.

free of charge. The state temporarily

The FAA should establish “diver-

road-blocked that move by imposing

sion airports” on both coasts, and

architectural standards the hospital

BGR was “the best in the east,” Bill

could not meet. Bangor Health Direc-

Hathaway told a Congressional hear-

tor William Shook described the city’s

ing in late September. Depuy, Goff,

inability to move into the hospital as

and Peter D’Errico (Bangor’s economic

“almost ludicrous.”

development director) attended the

No matter who occupied which

hearing to press their case for BGR,

building, runway traffic was pick-

“ideally suited” for relieving interna-

ing up. The airport handled 1,829

tional-flight headaches, Goff testified.

flights from November 1–10 and

3,455 flights from December 1–10.

Harbor; unable to disembark his

International traffic rose through


December, too, and to say that

hours on the BGR ramp, the pilot

Depuy was pleased would be an

of the last plane awaiting Customs


said “to heck with it” and left Ban-

The GSA finally transferred Dow



gor after refueling.

to Bangor in December. January

“It was an exciting experience

kicked off with Syntex Spinning and

but spoiled by a somewhat sour fla-

Dying Corporation announcing “that

vor,” the Bangor Daily News opined.

it would locate a plant” at BGR by late

“Somehow the bureaucratic inertia

winter. This ill-fated venture would

in Washington must be overcome.”

soon dissolve amidst rancorous disagreement with city officials.

It was. On February 20, 1969, Customs announced plans to hire 15

Depuy released BGR’s first an-

on-call inspectors for Bangor. A mix

nual report on January 9. In its first

of men and women, the hirees soon

six months, the airport handled

underwent training at the airport

45,215 passengers and 662,507

and reported for work.

pounds of freight Not until mid-June 1969 could Depuy report that BGR “will finish in the black at the close of this fiscal year.”






necks all but vanished. With the temporary domestic arrivals terminal in operation for

In January 1969 a public relations calamity was created when several international flights diverted into Bangor due to a bad storm and only two Federal inspectors were on duty to process hundreds of passengers.

After carpenters knocked to-

some weeks, planning proceeded for

gether a temporary International Ar-

the new terminal. Bangor hired Tip-

rivals building and Customs found

petts, Abbott, McCarthy & Stratton,

more personnel to work at BGR, a

an NYC architectural firm, to design

that “we should stop here all the time.

public-relations disaster dropped from

the facility. On June 24, Depuy teased

The gas is about 10 cents [per gallon]

the sky and into Depuy’s lap on Friday,

the media that a large hotel might be


January 24. A bad storm churning

built next to the terminal.

That same Independence Day,

over the mid-Atlantic states diverted

Possibly launching a “who’s who”

nine Pennsylvania Air Guard pilots

several airliners to Bangor — and

tradition that continues to today,

delivered single-seat F-102 Delta

only federal inspector Milton Ross and

presidential daughter Patricia Nixon

Daggers to the Maine Air Guard ramp at BGR. The Air Force planned to re-

On February 20, 1969, Customs announced plans to hire 15 on-call inspectors for Bangor.

place the Maineiacs’ F-89Js with 18 Daggers, but these jets would ultimately spend little time in Bangor. Airport



Willis Ward were on duty to process

deplaned from a TWA London-to-

apace through summer 1969. Then

at least a few hundred passengers ar-

Washington flight at BGR on Friday,

Depuy surprised city councilors by

riving from Europe.

July 4. About the same time, Califor-

announcing his resignation on Mon-

“This is what we were most

nia billionaire businessman Kirk Ker-

day, September 29. He had accepted

afraid of,” Goff said while watching

korian landed at Bangor in his private

a position with the Massachusetts

long lines of shivering passengers

jet to clear Customs and refuel.

Port Authority. Fortunately for Ban-

waiting inside the under-heated in-

As his jet taxied for takeoff,

gor, Depuy would not leave BGR for a

ternational terminal. Customs dis-

Kerkorian told his passengers, ac-

few months and his replacement was

patched five inspectors from Bar

tors Cary Grant and Johnny Meyer,

well known in local circles.


Peter D’Errico February 1970 – September 1990




I n t e r n at i o n a l

Airport by Boston’s siren song, outgoing Airport Director Bill Depuy left BGR sooner than expected in autumn 1969. City Manager Merle Goff advertised for a new airport director, but when serious trouble descended on BGR on Friday, October 31, the only official “go-to” person was Norman Kaye. He ran Trans East Airlines, Bangor International’s fixed-based operator. Trans World Airways Flight 85 had left Los Angeles for San Francisco early that morning. Some 15–20 minutes after takeoff, passenger Raphael Minichiello, a 20-year-old Italian who had served with the Marines in Vietnam, pointed an M1 rifle at a flight attendant, marched her into the cockpit, and told the flight crew that the Boeing 707 was going to Rome instead.

Peter D’Ericco left a lasting legacy at BGR, as during his tenure a new $2.2 million domestic terminal was built, followed quickly by a new international terminal. “The airport is 24 hours, seven days a week... you had to be always available, which was ok. It was a really good job.”

Minichiello released the passengers during a Denver refueling stop. The 707 then refueled at JFK International Airport in New York before landing at Bangor. As ramp attendants pumped jet fuel into the plane’s tanks, Minichiello freaked upon spotting two men watching the parked plane from BGR’s international arrivals building. One man was a press photographer, the other Norman Kaye, who had arranged the 707’s refueling on the BGR ramp. Minichiello wanted the men gone. “He says he is going to start shooting at that building unless they get a move on,” TWA Captain Bill Williams radioed FAA tower supervisor David Brown. Kaye and the photographer scooted out of sight. Now designated Flight 9316, the 707 left Bangor at


1:47 p.m., refueled at rainy Shannon

F-102 Delta Daggers at BGR in No-

in Ireland, and then flew to Rome.

vember 1969.

Bouncing off the 707 there,





Minichiello initially evaded capture;

through the 17 airport-manager ap-

he later received a puny slap on his

plicants and interviewed seven. The

Italian wrist for his crimes.

city manager Merle Goff revealed on

Trans East International Chairman Norman Kaye looks at a hijacked TWA flight that landed to refuel at Bangor International Airport on October 31, 1969. The Italian hijacker spotted Kaye at the window and signaled via the plane’s pilot that shooting would begin if Kaye did not vanish. (BDN/Carroll Hall)

Days later, a local story wiped

December 9 that he wanted D’Errico.

building and improving passenger

the hijacking from Bangorian minds.

The 104th Maine Legislature voted in

facilities at the domestic terminal.

From city hall circulated the rumor

mid-January 1970 to change Bangor’s

Passengers, planes, and freight

that City Councilor Peter D’Errico was

city charter so that rather than wait

flowed through BGR that winter and

the top candidate to manage BGR,

until his term expired, D’Errico could

spring. After handling 100 airliners

according to the press.

resign immediately from the city coun-

and 15,000 passengers in 1968’s

cil and become the BGR manager.

latter half, BGR had handled 1,500

Bangor’s economic development director for 10 years, D’Errico had

He took over in early February,

aircraft and 150,000 passengers in

served as the Dow Reuse Coordina-

and a day later a winter storm left “all

1969. Passenger and freight traf-

tor before recently taking a manage-

the east coast airports closed” and

fic were almost all international in

rial position with Eastern Fine Paper

nine international flights diverted to

nature, with a Maine company im-

in Bangor. An Air National Guard

Bangor, according to the press. Sur-

porting live lobsters from Canada in

major, he would soon fly as a radar

viving that trial by fire, D’Errico quickly

spring and early summer 1970.

observer on the F-101B Voodoos re-

outlined “his first priorities” at BGR:

On April 30, a blocked JFK run-

placing the Maine ANG’s single-seat

expanding the international arrivals

way intersection diverted several


international flights to Bangor. Nine

Airport and Trans East staff had 15

airliners, including the first Boeing 747

minutes to get ready.

(Lufthansa Flight 404) seen at BGR,

A phone call summoned D’Errico

touched down during one particular

from a city-hall meeting, and emer-

hour and put D’Errico and airport and

gency services swarmed to BGR.

Trans East staffers to the test. More

People watched as “the big ship

planes landed overnight; some 4,000

came over the airport boundary lights

people “were soon crowding every

and touched down at 1:27 p.m.,” the

open space on the airport perimeter”

press reported.

to see all the parked airliners, including an Israeli El Al 707. The back of his head visible in the foreground, Paul Lacomble, the in-flight director of Pan Am Clipper 101, uses a Bangor Police Department cruiser loudspeaker to inform passengers why they were evacuated from the Boeing 747 after it landed at Bangor International Airport in early afternoon on Thursday, September 17, 1970. The passengers were not informed about a bomb threat while the plane was in the air. (BDN/Jack Loftus)

and crew members deployed the

D’Errico’s arrival had coincided

747’s eight emergency chutes. Pas-

with exciting times at Bangor Inter-

sengers poured out the emergency

“Flight 101, we have a report there is a bomb aboard your aircraft set to go off at 1:30 p.m.” national Airport. In early July 1970

exits. A photograph taken of the

the contract to build the new termi-

parked 747 surrounded by its former

nal went to Augusta-based Stew-

passengers went international, even

art and Williams Inc., low bidder at

appearing in the October 2 issue of

$2.122 million. Replacing the New

Life magazine.

York firm first hired to design the

A bomb was never found.

terminal, Bangor architect Francis

With passenger traffic increas-

J. Zelz designed a facility that could

ing, D’Errico and city officials sought

“handle up to 180,000 airliner pas-

to boost air freight activity. Bangor

sengers a year,” more than double

set aside 600 acres for an air devel-

BGR’s existing domestic traffic.

opment park dedicated to commer-

Construction soon started on the new terminal. Looking like something out of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, a Pan American Airways 747 with its emergency chutes deployed stands on the ramp at Bangor International Airport on Thursday afternoon, September 17, 1970. The plane’s 236 passengers and 16 crew members evacuated the jumbo jet after it landed following a bomb threat. (BDN/Jack Loftus)

Doe taxied to a designated ramp,

cial aviation. Over the years different businesses would utilize buildings

Bound from London to NYC,

and ramp space within this park,

Pan American Flight 101 approached

an unheralded aspect of Bangor

Maine with 236 passengers and 16


crew members in early afternoon on

In mid-May 1971, city councilors

Thursday, September 17, 1970. Just

voted to spend $800,000 to build

before 1:15 p.m. Captain Stewart Doe

an international terminal beside the

received a warning from New York.

new domestic terminal. With fund-

“Flight 101, we have a report

ing sources not yet solidified, con-

there is a bomb aboard your air-

struction would not start until at

craft set to go off at 1:30 p.m.,” Doe

least 1972.

learned. Diverting to BGR, Doe told

In August, D’Errico and Maine

his crew to prepare for an emergency

Governor Kenneth M. Curtis touted

evacuation without letting passen-

BGR’s air-freight capabilities during

gers know what was happening.

a “low-key factfinding mission” in

Europe. D’Errico had just returned to


Bangor when 7,000 people jammed into BGR to see President Richard M. Nixon and his family, bound for a Maine island vacation. A president and Air Force One could not escape attention at BGR, but other celebrities would do so in the years to come. During D’Errico’s early years at BGR, changes occurred away from the flight line that would shape the airport into the 21st century. The University of Maine transformed its South Campus within the footprint of Maine and Texas avenues, and the 112th Medical Company (Air Ambulance), Maine Army National Guard received almost 30 Army helicopters. Soon the familiar “whop-whopwhop” of Huey helicopters echoed through the central Maine skies. In early November 1971, the first air-freight shipment originating at

Looking more like tourists than the honored British soldiers they are, 90 members of the British Grenadier Guards disembarked at Bangor International Airport on Wednesday, August 25, 1971 while headed to central America for a six months’ tour of duty in Belize. (BDN/Leo Chabot)

BGR saw Canadian blankets loaded on a jet bound for East Pakistan (later Bangladesh). The moment passed almost unheralded, but additional blanket shipments took place over the next few weeks. D’Errico watched other “firsts” take place that winter. He toured the almost completed domestic terminal with a few media reps in early January 1972, and the Federal Aviation Administration moved its flight service station from Old Town to BGR a few weeks later. Snow storms farther south routinely diverted airliners to BGR, and D’Errico routinely reported the good news about increased passenger traffic. “Some 2,500 international flights” used the airport in 1971, up 200 flights from 1970 and 1,000

After passengers disembarked from a Northeast Airlines jet (upper left) that had landed at Bangor International Airport in November 1971, vehicles back up as drivers who picked up passengers try to leave the paid parking lot outside the domestic terminal. (BDN/Carroll Hall)

directly to the domestic terminal’s


second level by…aerial walkways,” according to the media. In mid-August, Regency Beef of New York started exporting purebred Holstein cattle from BGR to Italy. Five more shipments followed in the next few weeks. D’Errico gained additional responsibilities as a bank foreclosed on the financially troubled Trans East Airlines in August and Bangor temporarily took over fixed-base operations. Despite a long search for a commercial FBO, the city continued in that capacity into 1973, a year that saw the Civil Aeronautics Board des-

Work nears completion on the second-floor waiting area at the new Bangor International Airport domestic terminal on Thursday, January 14, 1972. In the foreground are the stairs and an escalator (just beyond the stairs) connecting the first and second floors at the facility, scheduled to open in February 1972. (BDN/Carroll Hall)

ignate BGR as a “flag-stop” for international cargo operations. International travel grew during 1973, at least until the autumn Yom Kippur War spawned the infamous Arab oil embargo. “Runaway fuel prices and an energy crunch” affected BGR operations as at least two airlines switched to buying

This aerial photograph taken in spring 1972 gives a typical view of the ramp area outside the international arrivals terminal at Bangor International Airport. At left is a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight that diverted into Bangor to pick up some extra fuel before continuing on to New York. The other two aircraft — Trans International Airlines and Atlantis Airlines — represent the airport’s major type of customer, charter flights. (BGR)

cheaper Canadian jet fuel at Gander in Newfoundland. The federal government responded by allowing “airports to start pumping price-controlled domestic fuel into the international carriers” later in 1974. Arguments as to which entity

flights from 1969, he wrote. On top of

Delayed by federal bureaucracy,

would be Bangor International’s FBO

those figures were the 2,400 domes-

its actual construction would not begin

continued well into 1974 in U.S. Bank-

tic flights flown annually by Northeast

until 1974. The project’s price would

ruptcy Court in Bangor. Eight firms

Airlines “in and out of Bangor.”

rise to $1.995 million, and the terminal

had applied for FBO status, and “itchy

would not open until late 1975.

relations” had developed between





opened on March 20, 1972, and after

And city officials revealed that

some city officials and a few high-

attending the facility’s official dedi-

the Europa Corporation planned to

level employees of the defunct Trans

cation on April 5, dignitaries from as

build a nine-story, 104-unit hotel di-

East. The “almost sonorous court en-

far away as Washington, D.C. moved

rectly across the street from the new

gagement” would continue for some

next door to attend the ground-break-

domestic terminal. Both the hotel

time to come, the press predicted.

ing ceremony for a new international

(which opened as a Hilton) and the

History repeated at the airport


international terminal would “connect

when a second ground-breaking

People seated in the second-floor waiting area at the new Bangor International Terminal watch an American Airlines 707 taxi past the facility on April 4, 1972. The terminal, which became operational on March 20, marked the beginning of a new era for air travel in Maine. The plush, bright surroundings were for the comfort and service of the air traveler and provided a restful and assuring atmosphere for beginning or ending a trip. (Bruce Nett)

ceremony for the new international terminal took place on May 18, 1974. Seventeen dignitaries (including a few who participated in the 1972 ground breaking) thrust 17 shovels into the dirt, and Portland-based Consolidated Constructors and Builders went to work immediately. The project should take 400 days to complete, a Consolidated representative commented. At least 5,000 people turned out to watch as the first SST (dubbed

Bangor city councilor Robert Baldacci (lower right), chairman of the council’s airport committee, and Airport Manager Peter D’Errico (at Baldacci’s left) cut a cake modeled after the new domestic terminal to symbolize the facility’s official dedication on Wednesday afternoon, April 5, 1972. Dignitaries and speakers who attended the ceremony were (left to right) David W. Hays, secretarial representative for the U.S. Department of Transportation; Bangor City Manager Merle Goff; Bangor Mayor William Cohen; Representative William D. Hathaway (D-Maine); Governor Kenneth M. Curtis; Robert Murphy of the Civil Aeronautics Board; and Thomas Dunn, deputy assistant secretary for operations, Economic Development Association. (BDN/Jack Loftus) The first ground-breaking ceremony for the new international arrivals terminal at Bangor International Airport took place on Wednesday, April 5, 1972. Bangor City Councilor Robert Baldacci (right), chairman of the council’s Airport Committee, takes the first scoop of earth from the proposed site of the $900,000 building. Linked by the handle of a second shovel at left are (left to right) Bangor Mayor William Cohen, Representative William D. Hathaway (D-Maine), Governor Kenneth Curtis, and David W. Hayes, secretarial representative for the U.S. Department of Transportation. (BDN/Jack Loftus)



Seventeen shovels are poised at the ready on the site of the new international arrivals building at Bangor International Airport on Thursday, May 16, 1974 as federal, state, and city representatives took the initial shovelsful of dirt for the $1.995 million terminal. Among those digging were James Pitarys, New England Regional Commission project manager; Eric Stauffer, federal-state coordinator; David Bodnovich, chief engineer, Economic Development Administration; Earl Banks, Penobscot County Commission chairman; Merle Goff, Bangor city manager; and Thomas Needham, Bangor mayor. (BDN/Carroll Hall)

Concorde 01) to land at Bangor In-

from Bangor now included the

ternational touched down just before

home-grown Bar Harbor Airlines

9:55 a.m. on Thursday, November 7.

and internationally known Delta Air-

Pilot John Cochran had logged the

lines. Atlantic Central Airlines estab-

flight time from Fairford, England to

lished a short-lived Bangor-to-Saint

Bangor at a record-breaking 2 hours

John, New Brunswick connection in

and 55 minutes, with the needle-

February 1975.

nosed SST topping off at 1,320 miles an hour over the Atlantic. D’Errico expressed his pleasure with the SST’s inaugural visit.

King Hussein, ruler of Jordan, and his wife, Alia Baha, made a brief stop in Bangor in August 1974 to refuel his plane while en route to Jordan. The presence of royalty surprised departing and arriving airline passengers. But it came as no surprise to airport workers. Here, he sits behind the controls of the aircraft, which he landed himself. (ONA/Bruce Nett)

The Bangor Hilton finally opened that summer. Construction headaches plagued the international terminal, slated to open September 1,

“It certainly gives BGR identity

1975. Not until November 12 did

and…has demonstrated the airport’s

the first international flight, Pan Am

capabilities in handling this modern

93, pull up to the terminal’s jetway

piece of equipment,” he said.

and disembark passengers for Cus-

Taking on fuel, the Concorde

toms screening.

buzzed westward to undergo icing

In early January 1976, D’Errico

tests in Washington State. Cochran

reported that while overall flight op-

and co-pilot Eddie McNamara brought

erations had risen 5 percent at BGR

the SST back to Bangor on December

in 1975, international landings had

11 while en route for Britain.

dropped by 24 percent. By now,

Airlines offering domestic flights

larger aircraft, such as the 747 and

DC-10, carried more passengers and


didn’t need to refuel as often as the smaller 707s frequently visiting BGR

“It certainly gives BGR identity and … has demonstrated the airport’s capabilities in handling this modern piece of equipment.” in the early 1970s. Ironically, larger jets comprised more of BGR’s landings, and the number of passengers clearing Customs in Bangor declined only 14 percent. As the Trans East reorganization dragged into 1976, Federal Bankruptcy Judge Conrad Cyr ordered

The Concorde was a British-French collaboration. The turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner was operated until 2003. It had a maximum speed over twice the speed of sound at Mach 2.04 (1,354 mph or 2,180 km/h at cruise altitude), with seating for 92 to 128 passengers. First flown in 1969, Concorde entered service in 1976 and continued flying for the next 27 years. It is one of only two supersonic transports to have been operated commercially. It stopped in Bangor several times.

Bangor to end its role as fixed-based operator at BGR midnight, March 3. The idea that a federal court could shutter key airport operations riled city officials. Fortunately, the intense negotiations underway at the bankruptcy court led to Cyr ordering Bangor to reopen the FBO by 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, March 17, 1976. The city must find a commercial fixedbase operator, Cyr ruled, but BGR had regained its international status. Under a proposed agreement to settle the Trans East case, Bangor and Exxon would each pay $650,000 to Depositors Trust Company, the foreclosing bank. Bangor would regain the Trans East lease, and Exxon would receive “an extended lease on the underground fuel lines…and the storage facilities” at BGR. For years to come, Exxon fuel trucks would be familiar sights on

The modern Godfrey Boulevard footprint of Bangor International Airport was still under development in late March 1974. The domestic terminal had opened a few years earlier, and construction had just begun on a new hotel across the street from the terminal. (BDN)


At a $6 million complex at Bangor International Airport, a Delta Airlines jet (center) deplanes passengers at the domestic terminal. To its left stands the new International Arrivals Building, and behind the domestic terminal rises the new Bangor Hilton, scheduled to open on June 15, 1975. Beyond the International Arrivals Building are four hangars from the Dow Air Force Base days; the two rear hangars will serve as a Foreign Trade Zone. (Bangor Daily News/Daniel Maher)

the BGR ramps — and the city would serve as BGR’s permanent FBO. On a sunny and warm June 9, 1976, some “150 invited guests” attended the dedication ceremony for

Inbound from Europe, a DC-10 operated by Trans International Airlines stands on the heavy-duty ramp outside the new international arrivals terminal late on a June night in 1975. Beside the DC-10 is another Trans International jet; both were charter flights that stopped at BGR to refuel and let passengers clear Customs. (BDN/Jack Loftus) Nestled under the shadow of the control tower at Bangor International Airport is Station Three, the airport fire station responsible for being first on the scene in the event of an emergency at the airport. In the foreground is a 3,000gallon tank truck. In the background is the department’s new crash truck capable of many fire fighting duties. Parked behind the tanker is the dry powder attack truck. (BDN/Carroll Hall)

the international terminal. Maine Governor James Longley and other dignitaries addressed the crowd — and part way through the ceremony, a DC-10 from Trans International Airlines landed at Bangor and taxied to the terminal. The “International” was back in Bangor International Airport for good. Over at the Air National Guard Base, the 101st Fighter-Interceptor Wing traded its F-101B Voodoos for KC-135 Stratotankers, a transition that added jobs and new buildings. A $1.196-million Army Aviation Support Facility also opened in 1976 to support the Maine Army Guard’s helicopter activities at BGR


By early 1977, indicators pointed to increased international traffic at Bangor International, which handled 1,543 overseas flights in 1976 versus 1,315 such flights in 1975. Stable fuel prices eased a worldwide recession that had particularly affected tourism in Europe and Asia; with the European economy improving throughout 1976, more people traveled to the United States. Some 36 airlines now utilized Bangor International. On June 2, the FAA fired up a new radar system, the first available at BGR since its creation. The Air Force had carted off the original Dow AFB radar that, while supposedly bound for Vietnam, landed in a Delaware warehouse. For the last nine years, air-traffic controllers had

Standing at the rostrum, Governor James B. Longley addresses an assembly of more than 150 invited guests at the dedication on Wednesday, June 9, 1976 of the International Arrivals Building (background) at Bangor International Airport. (BDN/Jack Loftus)

Bangor International Airport’s new radar console next to the FAA control tower shows a triangular shape on the screen, which is the 30-to-60 mile control area of the Bangor field. Dashes indicate flight paths. Circles are airports. Bangor is the center circle. Crosses are obstructions like mountains or radio or TV antennas. (BDN/Danny Maher)

guided aircraft to and from Bangor


“strictly on voice commands,” the media noted. Radar could not help 49-yearold German brewery worker Erwin Kreuz figure out where he was when a San Francisco-bound charter flight landed at Bangor in mid-October 1977. The passengers disembarked to clear Customs; thinking he had reached California, Kreuz grabbed his suitcase, walked outside the international terminal, “hailed a taxi and asked to go to a hotel.” Kreuz spoke no English, but someone steered German-speakers Kenneth and Gertrude Romine of Old With a Ki Yi Yippee … registered Holstein-Fresian cattle left their cattle pens in the comparative warmth of a former bomber hangar at Bangor International Airport on Monday night, September 26, 1977 as rain belted down relentlessly, to climb aboard an Air Canada cargo plane bound for Hungary. Upwards of 60 additional cattle shipments are planned from BGR overseas by the Holstein-Fresian Association. Economics and Bangor’s close proximity to Europe were the prime factors behind the association’s shift from New York and Pennsylvania. (BDN/Carroll Hall)

Town to him. “They picked Kreuz up in Bangor…and found him a hotel room in Milford while they figured out how to help him,” the Bangor Daily News reported. Until his charter flight returned to Bangor, Kreuz walked throughout “Bangor and Brewer looking at houses and businesses,” visited the coast with the Romines, and enjoyed a birthday party held in his honor at Union Street McDonald’s. By now a local celebrity, Kreuz returned to visit Bangor in 1978. D’Errico reported that 1977 was “a lucrative one” for BGR,

Bangor moved one step closer to developing a free trade zone and an international air freight facility with the Monday, September 18, 1977 announcement that the city would be given title to the former Strategic Air Command alert area at Bangor International Airport. Maine Senator William D. Hathaway stopped at the airport Monday to announce that the General Services Administration will provide early access to the 190-acre site and that the ownership transfer will be accomplished in the near future. (BDN) Made-to-order advertising space frames an approaching Maine Air National Guard KC-135E Stratotanker at the Bangor International Airport billboard located on the Odlin Road in Bangor in early October 1978. (BDN/James Verrill)


which handled 2,536 international commercial aircraft and 466,400 international passengers that year. The airport “closed the books…in the black by a record margin” and returned $645,755 to Bangor’s general fund, according to the press. By its 10th birthday on July 1, 1978, Bangor International had become a local fixture, known as “the airport” by many area residents now accustomed to the civilian airliners coming and going in the central Maine skies. British Caledonian Airways started providing air-cargo service through Bangor in mid-August, a free trade zone started coalescing around the former Air Force alert facility near

Airlines announced plans to relocate

the Odlin Road, and the Target Area

its headquarters to Bangor from the

Development Corporation constructed

Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport

a speculative, 30,000-square-foot in-

in Trenton. Bar Harbor and Delta air-

dustrial building on Illinois Avenue.

lines both reported solid passenger

Shoemaker G.H. Bass and Company purchased the Target building in August 1980. For a while, starting in 1979, passengers could catch Trans Interna-

growth at BGR, but international traffic remained BGR’s bread and butter. “For every American, we had two Europeans go through here,” D’Errico said.

tional Airlines and LTU flights at BGR

Bangor launched a major air-

and fly to and from Europe. Bar Harbor

port project in 1980 to renovate the

Air Force One has made several stops at BGR, including when U.S. President Jimmy Carter visited in 1978. U.S. President Jimmy Carter greeted Maine political delegates and members of the media as he stepped off Air Force One in 1978.

domestic terminal, construct a two-


floor addition to the international terminal, and install “another boarding point on the international arrivals docking finger,” the media reported. Costing around $1 million, the project also installed “new baggage conveyor systems in both terminals,” and the overall work continued into May 1981. On August 20, 1981, Anzac Electronics dedicated a new 24,000square-foot plant on Griffin Road at BGR. A division of the Adams-Russell Company, Anzac had been located in Bangor for some 10 years; the new building reflected Anzac’s need for a larger modern facility. For some years, Bangor and the Maine Air National Guard had jointly staffed crash-rescue services at BGR. In mid-October 1981, both entities The new radar traffic control system at Bangor International Airport is demonstrated on Wednesday, December 5, 1979 by two members of the Federal Aeronautics Administration. Seated at the console is John Hatch, data systems specialist, and standing is Dan Pierce, team supervisor. (BDN/Carroll Hall)

announced that the Air Guard would double its coverage to four firefighters per shift, allowing Bangor to reduce its airport staffing by seven firefighters. The change would save the Airport Department at least $100,000 a year, a significant savings in a year when the number of flights passing through BGR would drop some 45 percent. Changes to the airline industry had adversely impacted business at BGR in 1980 and 1981. Cheaper Canadian jet fuel lured more airlines to Gander International Airport in Newfoundland, and by using wide-body jets like the 747, airlines could carry more passengers with fewer planes. An industry-wide business slump

In early September 1980, Bangor International Airport’s Customer Services Director Richard Myshrall (right) tells students enrolled in the Travel Services and World Geography class at Beal College in Bangor about the workings of BGR and the various career opportunities in airline-related industries. The class’s teacher, Hillary St. Clair, stands at right (rear). (BDN/Danny Maher)

had also reduced international airline traffic. But Bangor International had done all right during those two years, and in August 1982 D’Errico said that through June 30, “we have seen…a

substantial improvement” in business.


The Maine Legislature had finally repealed the 2 cents-per-gallon state tax levied on aviation fuel sales at BGR, a move that brought some airlines back from Gander. D’Errico later described 1982 as “a break-even year.” In January 1983, Bangor renewed a contract with former BGR employee Bob Ziegelaar, a consultant hired in 1981 to develop new business for BGR. Ziegelaar was a go-getter, according to D’Errico. “Even in the poorest years, he was able to salvage or A color postcard depicts the busy ramp outside the international arrivals terminal (left) and the domestic arrivals terminal at Bangor International Airport circa 1980. The Airport Hilton rises beyond the Trans International airliner parked at a jetway leading to the international arrivals terminal. (Courtesy of Richard R. Shaw) Passengers at Bangor International Airport crowd around the Delta Airliners counter for information on flights on Monday, August 3, 1981 after 13 of 18 air traffic controllers at BGR went on strike earlier that day. Five flights from Bangor to Boston were canceled as a result of the nationwide air traffic controllers’ strike. (BDN/Carroll Hall)

officers and FBI agents conducted “a long, tedious” search that ultimately found no bomb on the plane. bring in new activities,” he said.

to Chicago, a step that gave pas-

Reflecting the downtown in in-

In late 1983, city officials unveiled

sengers greater flexibility in reach-

ternational traffic, D’Errico factored

plans to spend at least $3 million for

ing Midwest and West Coast desti-

the revenue from handling 1,000 to

various improvements at BGR during

nations. After a ribbon-cutting cer-

1,100 such flights into the airport’s

the next five years. Highest priority

emony held in the domestic terminal,

1985 budget. Not until December 30

went to rehabilitating the ditches bor-

the flight left Bangor at 6:55 a.m.

did the 1,000th international flight

dering the heavy-duty ramp beside

with some 40 passengers aboard.

land at BGR, and “what is significant”

the terminals. Other projects involved

While hijackings had decreased

adding surface-condition sensors to

worldwide, other threats occasion-

the runway, boosting insulation in the

ally diverted airliners to Bangor. A

For the fourth time in BGR history,

terminals’ roofs, and installing a better

bomb scare brought National Airlines

a supersonic Concorde landed at the

sign system to direct people to BGR.

was that this number was up from 1984, he said.

Flight 424 into BGR on Friday, July 27,

airport in early February 1986, Bar

On June 1, 1984, United Air-

1984. The crew safely evacuated the

Harbor Airlines merged that year with

lines initiated service from Bangor

521 passengers, and Bangor police

Eastern Airlines, and Eastern Express

Maine legislature repeals 2 cents per gallon fuel • 1982 sales tax making BGR competitive again

Air Guard doubles its firefighters • 1981

Renovation of the domestic terminal begins • 1980

Bar Harbor Airlines relocates to BGR from • 1979 Hancock County Airport in Trenton

10th anniversary year. Free Trade Zone • 1978 starts developing near Odlin Road

466,400 international passengers • 1977

New radar system in place • 1976

International terminal opens • 1975

Concorde 01 lands at BGR • 1974

Four Points Sheraton Hotel at BGR built • 1973

New domestic terminal opens • 1972

City councilors vote to build an international terminal • 1971

Pan Am flight 101 bomb scare • 1970

U.S. Customs hires 15 on-call inspectors for Bangor • 1969

Dow Air Force Base transitions to Bangor International Airport • 1968

Bob Ziegelaar appointed as new director. First Gulf War • 1991 troops heading home stop at BGR and troop greeting began

Peter D’Errico resigns • 1990

International traffic explodes to 3,400 flights • 1989

F-16 fighters and Vermont Air National Guard stationed at Bangor • 1988

Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, and Harrison Ford unexpectedly drop in • 1987

Bar Harbor Airlines merges with Eastern Airlines • 1986

1,000th international flight lands at BGR • 1985

United Airlines initiates service • 1984

$3 million renovation for surface condition sensors for runway, ditches • 1983 around heavy duty ramp, and new wayfinding signage for routes to BGR


BGR’s 50th Anniversary • 2018

Domestic passenger traffic breaks record with over 500,000 • 2017 passengers. Maine Troop Greeters’ Museum opens

Domestic passenger terminal named in honor • 2016 of former director Peter R. D’Errico

New Ticketing and Passenger Check-in Center opens • 2015

United Airlines returns to BGR after 20 years. $14+ million • 2014 renovation of Domestic Terminal first floor begins

$4.9 million renovation at General Aviation Ramp. • 2012 Military troop traffic significantly declines

Hupp resigns. Tony Caruso appointed as new director • 2011

Gumball 3000 rally arrived at BGR on May 4 with • 2010 more than $12 million worth of race cars

Exxon Mobil ended jet fuel sales after more than three decades • 2009

500,000th service member greeted by Maine Troop Greeters on Aug. 18 • 2008

Allegiant begins service to Florida and fuel crisis begins • 2007

NOAA WP-3D hurricane hunter and crew staged • 2005 at BGR as passenger traffic grows to 480,000

Russian built Antonov 225, the world’s largest aircraft, lands at BGR • 2003

TSA takes over passenger security screening • 2002

Ziegelaar resigns. Rebecca Hupp appointed director. • 2001 Sept. 11 brings new security requirements

$20 million runway resurfacing project begins • 2000

Gov. Angus King creates task force on passenger service for BGR • 1999

Delta changes from MD 80s to regional jets • 1998

US Airways changes from jets to turboprops • 1997

Teleford Aviation assumes lease of Hangar 600 • 1995

Stephen King’s “Langoliers” filming & 4,000 international flights • 1994

$12.5 million renovation/expansion & 25th anniversary open house • 1993

Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev made a stop a BGR for fuel and • 1992 food. 102 tons of lobsters shipped to Paris on Air France


appeared on the BHA aircraft flying


from Bangor and elsewhere in Maine. Texas Airlines soon bought Eastern Airline, a change that reflected the consolidations occurring within the airline industry. General Electric announced in January 1987 its intention to expand two Griffin Road buildings leased from BGR. The company planned to hire an additional 175 people for its Thanksgiving Day 1982 was just another day of work for many Maine residents, including Butch Randall, a Delta Airlines employee at Bangor International Airport. Randall uses the unique sign language of the airport ground crew to guide an airliner out of the docking area and get it headed for the runway. (BDN/Marc Blanchette)

Bangor operations. In mid-February,

In mid-September 1985, Scott Cogswell (left) and Bill Dow (right) load luggage to be cleared by Customs after an international flight landed at Bangor International Airport. (BDN/Marc Blanchette)

the local press reported. The charter

Clothes fly through the air on Wednesday, November 4, 1987 as the Bomb Squad from the Bangor Police Department explodes boxes left at Bangor International Airport. Authorities had suspected the boxes might contain dynamite, but only clothes and tools were found. (BDN/Bob DeLong)

late March 1988. That period marked

Bangor police scooped up an Eastern Express passenger who claimed he was carrying a bomb on a Presque Isle-to-Bangor flight. Hollywood A-listers Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, and Harrison Ford




Bangor on Saturday, August 22 after Eastwood’s Gulfstream G-3, “developed…an engine fire and stuck landing gear” while inbound from Paris, company owning the G-3 sent another plane and mechanics to BGR, and Eastwood and his companions flew out on that plane later that day. The Air Force stationed F-16 Fighting Falcons and a Vermont Air National Guard detachment at BGR in the high point of non-Maine National Guard activity at the airport since the closure of Dow; the Air Force had recently constructed a Backscatter radar system in Maine, and its headquarters and processing facility were located at the Bangor ANG Base. Backscatter closed within a few years. After sharp downturns in international passenger arrivals at BGR in 1986 and 1987, that aspect of airport business turned around in 1988. Driven partially by the weakened

American dollar (caused by the Oc-


tober 1987 stock-market crash) and partially by adding Air Europe and Monarch Airlines to the international carriers utilizing Bangor, the passenger count rose substantially. In mid-September, Bar Harbor Airlines reflagged “half of its fleet as Continental Express” and started flying from Bangor to Newark International in New Jersey, according to the media. Continental would fly the Bangor-Newark route for several years. Peter D’Errico was positively

Inclement weather elsewhere on the East Coast diverted several airliners, including two Boeing 747s, and their passengers and crews to Bangor International Airport in winter 1987. (BDN/Carroll Hall)

upbeat when he sat down with a reporter in spring 1989. “We are anticipating that this will be the best year since the city took over in 1968,” he said. Charter flights should be up 40 percent to 2,000 landings, Mainers could still catch flights to and from Europe at BGR, and the airport supported some 2,000 jobs, including those at GE, the UMaine campus, and the Air and Army national guard facilities. Since BGR’s mid-1968 opening, the Bangor International staff had earned “a reputation that takes time

international landings. Compared to

to develop,” D’Errico said. “Our crew

the July-December 1988 period, the

members are excellent. They are one

same months in 1989 saw the airport

of the factors that makes Bangor

earn a net profit of some $2.5 million,


at least twice that of a year earlier.

Driven by Maine tax policies, Bar


the public, and that was something

Harbor Airlines relocated its head-

leased 12,000 square feet in a han-

we’d been deficient in,” D’Errico said.

quarters to Houston, Texas later in

gar next to the general aviation ter-

Now into his 21st year as airport

1989. The company’s Continental

minal on Maine Avenue in winter

director, D’Errico reported in early Au-

Express flights to Newark were not

1989–1990. Then based in Water-

gust that BGR had set a new record

affected, however, and those flights

ville, Telford brought to BGR a char-

by handling 544 international flights

often left Bangor full.

ter service, a flight school, aircraft

in July 1990. He credited the airport

leasing and sales, and other general

staff for this achievement.

D’Errico’s rosy expectations about 1989 proved accurate. International



Staff Sgt. Jessie Wilson II of the 101st Security Police Squadron guards KC-135 Stratotankers at the Bangor Air National Guard Base on Thursday, March 24, 1988. The Maine Air National Guard has played a critical role in the development and success of BGR. (BDN/Tom Hindman)

aviation services.

traffic exploded to around 3,400

“Telford…gives us a diversifica-

flights, more than double 1988’s 1,413

tion of aviation services available to

“Like any successful organization, it’s the people that make it work so well,” he said.


An Airport Department employee plows drifting snow from the Bangor International Airport runway on Sunday, December 17, 1989 as operations slowly return to normal after a fierce storm pounded Maine a day earlier. (BDN/Tom Hindman) Passengers arriving at Bangor International Airport on an international flight await immigration screening in late October 1988. (BDN/Tom Hindman) Teddi Casey, an air traffic controller at Bangor International Airport, speaks with the pilot of a plane while working in the BGR tower in December 1989. (BDN/Scott Haskell)

A month later, D’Errico an-

D’Errico laughed heartily during a

nounced he was stepping down after

roast held just before he left for Cali-

two decades at the BGR helm to

fornia. More than 150 friends, co-

manage the Victor Valley Economic

workers, and relatives joined in the

Development Authority, tasked with

reverie, according to the local press.

redeveloping the closing George Air Force Vase in Victorville, California. The time had come to move on, D’Errico explained.

Then he was gone. Bangor



was without a permanent director for the first time in 20½ years. City

“I’ve been here (in Bangor) a long,

officials started looking for a re-

long time,” he said. “I have a great

placement for D’Errico, and as had

feeling for this place, but I have here

happened after the 1969 departure

the opportunity for a new challenge.”

of William Depuy, the search would

D’Errico would be sorely missed.

not extend far afield.

Described by a reporter as “the man

And before the new airport direc-

who shepherded Bangor International

tor took over, a Middle Eastern war put

Airport from infancy to childhood,”

Bangor International on the map.

Bob Ziegelaar March 1991 – April 2001

P e t e r D ’ E r r i co ’ s d e pa r t u r e f r o m Bangor International Airport sparked tremendous interest among people wanting to fill the airport director’s slot. City officials weeded the initial 80 applicants to six finalists representing “a broad cross section of background and experience in the aviation and airport industries,” City Manager Edward Barrett indicated on February 6, 1991. The finalists would be interviewed during the next two days; Barrett expected to name his choice a few weeks later. Meanwhile, events occurring halfway across the world soon focused history on Bangor. Among the finalists for airport director was Bob Ziegelaar, named the acting BGR director in late 1990. He had served as the airport’s contracted marketing director during the 1980s.

“I think my most important contribution was in helping to lay the financial foundation for the airport by making the most of the airport’s earlier international and commercial opportunities. Peter D’Errico and I always viewed the airport as an absolutely critical asset and economic generator for the City and the region and I think that has been proven out over the years. Not all communities are as fortunate to have an airport that is as economically selfsufficient as BGR has proven to be.”

Ziegelaar sensed history sweeping toward Bangor International Airport. “I remember I was at Governor’s” Restaurant when news came that President George H.W. Bush had decided to go to war to evict the Iraqi military from Kuwait, he recalled. “I knew the airport was certainly going to be busy.” Flying figuratively under the media’s radar, outbound troop flights passed through BGR unnoticed by the public in late 1990. Then Allied forces drove Iraqi troops out of Kuwait during the First Gulf War, waged from January 17–February 28, 1991, With a formal ceasefire in place, American troops started heading home. On a cold Friday, March 8, an American Trans Air L-1011 carrying 250 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division landed at BGR


fingered the keys and soulfully played


The Star-Spangled Banner. Paratroopers



straight as people stopped talking and turned toward the music. Veterans of other wars searched the terminal for the nearest American flag, then saluted it. Teary-eyed soldiers and civilians sang, the voices swelling as Tillman reached the anthem’s refrain. When his last notes faded, a soldier whose cheeks glistened with tears clutched the startled Tillman. Afterwards, soldiers queued to call home at the extra payphones installed a day earlier, and some soldiers not many hours removed from Infantryman Jeff Coverdale (center) receives congratulations from Mainers while walking along the aisle formed by the hundreds of people who arrived at Bangor International Airport early on Friday, March 8, 1991. They came to greet the first of many flights that will bring troops home from the Persian Gulf. Bangor was the first stop in the United States for the troops. (BDN/Marc Blanchette)

at 6 a.m. and taxied to the international terminal. Ziegelaar had asked officials at

of the Bangor Daily News observed. “It was a day like no other at Bangor International Airport,” she stated.

the Saudi Arabian heat stepped outside, rubbed snow on their faces, and yelled, “God bless America!” More troop flights landed at Bangor on Saturday and Sunday, and greeters packed the domestic terminal while their vehicles lined Godfrey

John Bapst Memorial High School in

Given about 24 hours’ notice that

Boulevard. Ziegelaar, his adminis-

Bangor to send their band to greet the

troops were Bangor-bound, city of-

trative assistant Connie Strout, and

soldiers. After clearing Customs, the

ficials, BGR personnel, civic groups,

other airport personnel were here,

soldiers swept into the domestic termi-

and ordinary Mainers “came together

there, and everywhere that weekend,

nal to encounter an “emotional home-

to welcome the troops home in grand

ensuring the troop flights were turned

coming” like nothing seen by American

style,” Ordway noted. The John Bapst

around as soon as possible and that

military personnel since the Korean

band set up on the second level of the

domestic and international flights

War, if not the end of World War II.

domestic terminal and played patri-

came and went on schedule.

While at that frigid early hour

otic music as military personnel en-

“Those were hectic days,” Ziege-

only “dozens of people had arrived…

tered the terminal via the sky bridge

laar recalled. “We had 10-to-12 inter-

to welcome the soldiers,” the crowd

to the international terminal.

national transits per day” (not count-

quickly swelled as word about the




ing the troop flights) carrying 250-to-

troop greetings spread across Maine

walked into the domestic terminal,

by phone, radio, and TV in that pre-

looked over at the Bapst band, and

“You’ve got as many people com-

social media era.

400 people per plane.

suddenly spotted his younger brother,

ing out from town to greet the troops”

“As hundreds of U.S. soldiers

Gary Eckmann, playing a drum. They

as international passengers arriving

touched down on American soil” that

held an impromptu reunion right then

at BGR, he said. “Those years from

morning for the first time in months,

and there.

’91 to ’95 or so, we sometimes had

they “were welcomed by hundreds

Around 7 a.m., Sgt. Kevin Tillman

of people amidst a flourish of pride,

asked to borrow a saxophone from

Ed Barrett nominated Ziegelaar

pomp and patriotism,” Renee Ordway

a Bapst musician. Tillman expertly

as the new airport director on Monday,

6,000 people in the terminal.”


March 11; city councilors confirmed

Bangor, suddenly on the map as na-

the appointment on March 13.

tional and international news crews

Although America’s homeward-

converged on the Queen City.

bound warriors received warm wel-

A New York Times stringer

comes elsewhere, something different

stepped into the domestic terminal

happened at Bangor International Air-

“long before dawn” on Thursday,

port. That crazy, joyful, and emotional

May 2 to mingle with “about 50 men,

March 8 transitioned beyond a one-

women, and children” awaiting an

day patriotic extravaganza. In the

inbound troop flight,” the NYT re-

days and weeks to follow, the troops

ported on Sunday, May 5. The plane

and their greeters kept coming.

carried soldiers from two transpor-

Fueled partly by the memories

The setting sun frames the tail of a jumbo jet as an Airport Department employee blows snow from the Bangor International Airport ramp late on a January afternoon in 1991. (BDN/Tom Hindman)

tation companies.

of Vietnam veterans of the non-ex-

The stringer watched as the

istent or hostile homecomings they

soldiers “tramped into the termi-

had received in the 1960s and ’70s,

nal,” where Valerie Bellomy shouted.

Mainers expressed their gratitude to

“You’re back! You’re back!”

America’s servicemen and -women

Asked why she greeted the sol-

for a job well done during the First

diers, Bellomy explained, “I don’t

Gulf War. An informal “troop-greeter”

know any of them. But we want them

network formed, replete with a

to know how grateful we are for what

phone number people could call to

they did for our country.”

learn about scheduled troop flights.

The New York Times stringer

Businesses provided everything from

noted that “such celebrations have

teddy bears to soft drinks and other

happened once or twice” in most

items for the inbound troops.

small towns across the country since

The flights that kept coming

the war ended, but at Bangor Inter-

in March, April, and May never dis-

national Airport, “the homecoming

rupted airport operations. Military

scene has taken on a life of its own.”

personnel traveling on from BGR

The Gulf War-related flights

told friends and relatives about

passed into history, but a cadre of

the friendly receptions received in

BGR troops greeters morphed into

Al Kearns, a member of the ramp crew at Bangor International Airport, de-ices a Northwest Airlink plane during the snowstorm that blew through Maine on Tuesday, December 3, 1991. (BDN/Marc Blanchette)

temporarily stationed several dozen


personnel in Bangor.

Workers load 102 tons of lobsters aboard this Parisbound Air France 747 at Bangor International Airport on Monday, December 21, 1992. (BDN/Bob DeLong)

In early June 1992, the Irving Oil Corporation announced plans to relo-

Not factored into Bangor’s 1991

cate its New England offices to that

budget for its Airport Department,

building, formerly occupied by Tim-

the troop flights and the NASA lease

berland Shoe and located at Godfrey

helped BGR thrive while other re-

Boulevard and Maine Avenue. Later

gional airports suffered during a lin-

an L.L.Bean call center, the building

gering recession. Ziegelaar reported

now houses a Wayfair Inc. customer-

in March 1992 that 450,000-plus

service center.

international passengers (including

Early on Thursday, August 27,

60,345 Desert Storm personnel) had

1992, a Northwest Airlink employee

passed through Bangor in 1991 and

discovered “a suspicious package”

that the domestic-passenger count

that was emitting “a loud beeping”

the Maine Troop Greeters, today a

had risen 7 percent, driven especially

in the baggage area of the domestic

formal non-profit with a dedicated

by business customers.

terminal. The Bangor Police Depart-

museum inside the domestic termi-

Looking back years later, Ziege-

ment’s Bomb Squad retrieved the

nal. The 21st-century wars in Af-

laar said that “the greatest challenge

piece of luggage “and opened it with

ghanistan and Iraq would keep the

in my time was to develop the inter-

a small detonating charge” well away

troop flights coming — and as often

national traffic,” then “the biggest

from the terminal, the press reported.

as they come to BGR, so do the Maine

source of revenue” for BGR. Interna-

The beeping came from a jogging

Troop Greeters.

tional flights helped fund the airport’s

watch. The domestic terminal soon

two terminals and their subsequent

reopened, and the luggage (which

expansions, he indicated.

apparently belonged to a woman)

The 200th troop flight, ATA Flight 8998, landed at BGR on Wednesday, August 21, 1991. With the pace of

“If we hadn’t been able to de-

troop flights slowing, Ziegelaar could

velop the international traffic the way

look back on the excellent work done

we did, the airport would not be what

by airport staff since early March.

it is today,” Ziegelaar said.

went unclaimed. Ziegelaar and his staff took the incident in stride. In mid-December, a chartered Aeroexo Airlines 727 brought Mikhail

The Gulf War-related flights passed into history, but a cadre of BGR troops greeters morphed into the Maine Troop Greeters, today a formal non-profit with a dedicated museum.

Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, into BGR during a stop for food and jet fuel. Gorbachev was a former premiere of the Soviet Union. A few days later, an Air France jumbo jet loaded 102 tons of Maine and Canadian lobsters at BGR for shipment to Paris.

In fall 1991 the National Aero-





The flight was billed as “BGR’s larg-

nautics and Space Administration

national as “a three-legged stool”

started staging the five-month Air-

comprising the Maine Air National

est lobster lift ever.” Through 1992 and into 1993,

borne Arctic Stratospheric Expedition

Guard, the “international activity,”

Ziegelaar oversaw a $12.5-million

II out of BGR. An ER-2 and a specially

and the “domestic activity,” which

renovation project that involved ex-

equipped DC-8 flying from Bangor

included domestic flights and “the

panding and renovating the domestic

investigated the Northern Hemi-

industrial component,” non-aviation

terminal and enlarging the interna-

sphere’s northern vortex. Leasing

businesses like General Electric and

tional terminal. Ziegelaar arranged an

Building 462 (a former hangar) near

a building that the BanAir Corpora-

August 20 open house that dovetailed

the international terminal, NASA

tion built on speculation.

with the airport’s 25th anniversary.

With El Toro Marine Corps Air

“I think our peak year was 1994,”

Treasury Department to close the Or-

Station in southern California sched-

when BGR handled “4,000 interna-

land-Sanford loophole, and “already

uled for closure, the Orange County

tional flights,” Ziegelaar said.

we know that some of them (carriers)

Register sent a reporter and a pho-

Telford Aviation contracted with

are coming back to us,” Ziegelaar told

tographer to Bangor in late summer

the Ages Group in March 1995 to

the press on Tuesday, April 30, 1996.

1993. Meeting with city officials and

maintain that company’s larger tur-

“Summer traffic is looking better all

local business owners, the reporter in-

boprops. Under President Telford

the time.”

vestigated the conversion of Dow Air

Allen III, Telford had acquired BGR-

A NASA DC-8 briefly returned to

Force Base into “an international air-

based Aerofusion in 1993 and had

BGR that spring to conduct tests for

port that turns a $3.5 million profit.”

assumed that company’s lease on

nitrogen oxide emissions from sub-

Ziegelaar noted that regularly

Hangar 600. The company had sig-

sonic aircraft. Ziegelaar reported that

scheduled domestic flights balanced

nificantly increased its employment

455,000 passengers went through

the mercurial international trade.

level at BGR since then.

BGR in 1997, breaking the record set

“When we started, American

Trouble rumbled through the

three years earlier.

charters were a big part of our busi-

Bangor skies in early spring 1996 as

Citing the cost, U.S. Airways

ness, now they’re a small piece,” he

European air carriers flying to cen-

dropped its jet flights from Bangor in

said, and “better weather forecast-

tral Florida started avoiding BGR to

September 1997.

ing” had all but eliminated sudden in-

land directly at the Orlando-Sanford

“There was always the challenge

clement-weather diversions to BGR.

Airport. Then a user-fee field, that

of connecting Bangor with domestic

“You always have to scramble

airport charged air carriers 86 per-

markets,” Ziegelaar said. Deregula-

to figure out what to do next so you

cent less per passenger for Customs

tion and rising fuel prices meant that

don’t end up with a crisis,” he told

screening than could BGR, an official

the airlines could no longer afford fly-

the Register.


ing 737s and MD-80s out of Bangor.

Like his predecessors, Ziegelaar

Maine’s “congressional delega-

“They had to switch to smaller

monitored aviation-industry issues.

tion went all out” and convinced the

air-craft (including turboprops),” which

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that airports could charge commercial carriers higher landing fees than those for private planes, Ziegelaar nixed raising BGR’s landing fees. Film crews took over Building 462 in summer 1994 to create sets for the ABC-TV miniseries The Langoliers, based on a Stephen King tale. “We’re turning this into the equivalent of a Hollywood studio,” producer Dave Kappes told the local press. The goal was to transform BGR into Los Angeles International Airport for a few scenes, and out in the Mojave Desert, workers took apart an L-1011 for shipment to Bangor and reassembly inside the hangar. International business was strong that year.

As work nears completion in July 1993 on a $12 million facelift of the domestic terminal at Bangor International Airport. Duane Fox of River City Commercial Cleaning puts the finishing touches on a window in the second-floor waiting area. (BDN/Marc Blanchette)



An SST was among the many airplanes diverted to Bangor International Airport on Tuesday, February 8, 1994 by a major snowstorm that swept the nation’s midsection. Numerous Eastern Seaboard airports, including JFK International Airport in New York City, were closed to air traffic, and many planes arriving from Europe ended up landing at BGR. Several plane loads of passengers had to spend the night in Bangor. (BDN/Michael York)

the plane to divert to BGR on August

refuel at BGR.

5, 1998. Bangor police and FBI agents

Many local and state officials

hustled the duo to the Penobscot

and business leaders united to learn

County Jail. No bomb was found.

how Bangor International Airport

Through 1998 and into 1999,

could develop air service to new

talks continued between the city and

markets. Governor Angus S. King

the Maine Aviation Historical Soci-

created a BGR taskforce; Maine‘s

many travelers did not like, he re-

ety about that organization leas-

congressional delegation reached

membered. “A lot of people were not

ing a BGR building for a future mu-

out to federal and airline officials to

understanding why the airlines were

seum. The MAHS directors signed a

see what could be done.

pulling out the [large] jets.”

lease with the Airport Department

The idea coalesced that the air-

Designed for smaller markets,

in spring 1999 to use Building 98 at

port should develop connections with

regional jets were just arriving in

98 Maine Avenue. The Maine Air Mu-

the places “where people want to

the United States. Ziegelaar lob-

seum opened not long afterwards.

fly,” like Orlando, and add regional

bied Business Express, Continental

The December 2, 1998 Bangor

Express, and U.S. Airways during

Daily News headline, “Delta Airlines

winter 1997–1998 to offer regional

pulling out of Bangor International,”

For the first time since Dow Air

jet service at Bangor. That summer

jolted that airline’s frequent fliers at

Force Base closed, the 11,440-foot

Continental Express converted two

BGR. Further reading revealed that

runway at BGR was resurfaced in a

of its daily Bangor-to-Newark flights

Delta would replace its large MD-

$20-million project split evenly be-

to 75-seat regional jets.

jets “for points south … [and] west,” a consultant explained.

80s at Bangor with Comair’s CL65

tween Bangor and the Maine Air

“The regional jets made it much

Canadair regional jets on March 2,

Guard. “Bangor has a huge runway”

better because you can fill them up

1999. The MD-80s would go to more

that was 300 feet wide at the time,

in places like Bangor,” said Ziegelaar,

populous markets.

Ziegelaar noted.

pointing out that regional jets lured

Delta’s decision surprised Zie-

The project, which also entailed

back to Bangor travelers who had

gelaar and the airport staff, already

narrowing the runway to 200 feet,

gone elsewhere.

dealing with an international-traf-

“started while I was there,” he said.

Issuing a bomb threat and dis-

fic decline as new long-range jets

“It was a real challenge with a single-

rupting the cabin crew, two rowdy

with fuel-efficient engines flew Eu-

runway airport.”

passengers aboard a Continental Air-

ropeans directly to North American

The BGR archives contain many

lines DC-10 en route to Paris forced

destinations rather than land to

images and stories about winter

storms diverting planes to Bangor


from major East Coast airports. Recalling his years at BGR, Ziegelaar admitted, “The weather was really a critical factor” in keeping the BGR runway open for international traffic. “All my years there, I remember one, maybe two times we closed the airport when we really had to. Usually it was an icing situation,” Ziegelaar said. “We had very few close calls with aircraft landing in bad weather.” Bangor International was always more than just airplanes. There were the people, and there was “always an interesting cast of characters around the airport,” Ziegelaar said with a smile. For instance, “a lot of the British Airways pilots who came through

From his post inside the control tower at Bangor International Airport, air traffic controller John Treadwell uses binoculars to monitor an approaching aircraft in mid-March 1995. (BDN/Kevin Bennett)

were former RAF (Royal Air Force) pi-

effective January 3, 2000, Commutair

Business looked up for BGR

lots,” and many flew in World War II,

would fly from Bangor and a Presque

through winter 2000–2001. Ziege-

he said. “We had German pilots com-

Isle airport as US Airways Express.

laar resigned on April 30, 2001 to

ing through who were ex-Luftwaffe.”

Bangor would have five daily flights

take a managerial position with the

The Brits and Germans would gather

to Boston.

Telford Group.

in the Red Baron Lounge at BGR and

American Eagle, affiliated with

As for his greatest success as

American Airlines, bought Business

airport director, Ziegelaar cited “the

“The international traffic gave

Express in late 1999 and now gave

revenue stream that we built up over

Bangor a specific dimension it hadn’t

“Bangor travelers new direct access

the years, from the late ’80s into the

had,” Ziegelaar said. “The local hotels

to American Airlines’ global network,”

’90s.” Bangor International operated

would be full with the crews,” who

a newspaper op-ed noted.

profitably, which kept the airport eco-

swap war stories.

mingled with Mainers in local restau-




nomically viable.

rants and stores and developed long-

news that US Airways would intro-

Bangor taxpayers could not af-

term friendships. Some foreign avia-

duce Bangor-to-Philadelphia service

ford to fund an airport the size of

tors even bought property in Maine

on June 1 and that Delta would offer

BGR, Ziegelaar stressed.

and settled there.


Business Express added two



that year or in early 2001.

Ten days before he left, city officials named BGR’s assistant di-

additional daily flights to LaGuardia

LifeFlight of Maine arrived at

rector, Rebecca Hupp, as the acting

in early April 1999, and soon after-

BGR in early 2000, after leasing

airport director. Peter D’Errico had

wards Comair announced plans to

space in a new aviation hangar built

since returned to Maine from Califor-

add a fourth daily flight to Cincinnati.

just off Maine Avenue. On March 1,

nia to work as an economic develop-

Then Continental Express pulled

2000 the resurrected Pan American

ment officer for Bangor; in conjunc-

out of Bangor in mid-September. Yet

Airways introduced direct flights to

tion with Ziegelaar’s departure, he

the news was not all bad. In mid-No-

Orlando, Florida and Portsmouth,

was named a special assistant to the

vember US Airways announced that

New Hampshire.

BGR director.


R e b e c c a Hu p p December 2001 – March 2012

N a m e d ac t i n g a i r p o r t d i r ec to r in late April 2001, Rebecca Hupp had come to Bangor International the previous July after managing Aberdeen Regional Airport in Aberdeen, South Dakota and working at Kansas City International Airport. She took over at BGR as a strike by Comair pilots cut Bangor’s Cincinnati connection and impacted BGR’s passenger traffic. The strike ended in early July, and Comair restored two Bangor-Cincinnati flights later that month. Citing Bangor’s long-time aviation history dating to the 1923 landing of General Billy Mitchell and “the entire US Army-air squad” at Godfrey Field, the Maine Section ASCE sponsored an evening program on June 21, 2001 to designate Bangor International as a historic landmark.

“It was my privilege to lead the Bangor International Airport for over a decade. The events of 9/11 and the years that followed were challenging times for the entire aviation industry but it was also a time of great opportunity for BGR. Due to the hard work, dedication and innovation of the BGR team, Bangor International was able to adapt, excel and evolve to meet the aviation needs of the greater Bangor region.”

The evening’s activities included an hour-long presentation of Amelia Earhart, “a one act play.” Under the Delta flag, Atlantic Coast Airlines launched a Bangor-Boston connection with 32seat jets on August 1. A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place prior to the first flight’s departure, and BGR passengers gained fast access to Logan International flights. Forty-one days later, foreign terrorists crashed three hijacked American airliners into New York and Washington, D.C. buildings and a fourth jet into a reclaimed Pennsylvania coal mine. “It was a beautiful fall day in Maine,” Hupp recalled. “I distinctly remember walking into the international arrivals building and thinking what a beautiful day it was.”

As Hupp met with car-rental agency representatives, “my administrative assistant, Connie Strout, came in and said a plane had crashed


“It was a very surreal day,” Hupp said. “The airport was completely shut down.”

into the World Trade Center in New York.” The only place in the terminals equipped with TVs was the domestic terminal‘s lounge; “we had them open it so we could watch the TV,” Hupp said. “We watched the second plane fly into the World Trade Center,” she remembered. The FAA soon closed the air space over Boston and NYC. “We started preparing to accept all those diversions” from those places without “knowing the FAA would be closing” American air space altogether, Hupp said. “We ended up with only a couple of flights due to [their] proximity” to BGR. “It was a very surreal day,” she said. “The airport was completely shut down.” As happened at other commercial airports, security visibly tightened at the eerily quiet BGR, the only jet noise occurring as Maine Air Guard KC-135s and other military aircraft came and went. According to Hupp, airport officials responded “to changing security requirements and security checks. There were a number of protocols we had to go through to reopen.” “Our parking changed immediately,” she said. “We were not allowed

a year, the Maine National Guard was

she told the Bangor media, “but be-

activated to provide security at [air-

cause of Bangor’s position with the

port] checkpoints,” Hupp recalled.

industry and geographically, we will

to have parking at the curb nor in our

“As soon as the federal air space

short-term [parking] lot,” left vacant

was reopened, we were ready to re-

for a time because “everything had

sume flights,” she said.

to be [parked] out beyond 300 feet” from the terminals.

continue to grow our market.” Despite the Comair strike and 9-11, BGR passenger traffic declined

Confirmed by the Bangor City

only 3.4 percent in 2001, with De-

Council as permanent BGR director

cember actually seeing a 4-percent

With the Transportation Security

on December 26, Hupp looked back

increase over a year earlier. A new

Administration not yet created, “for

on the previous 3½ months. “We


about nine months, it may have been

have experienced some challenges,”

rated by Pan American Airlines on




Russian An-124’s sit on Tango Row at BGR. Until the Boeing 747-8F, the An-124 was, for 30 years, the world’s heaviest gross weight production cargo airplane.

777” bound for Las Vegas diverted that plane to Bangor. Two such di-

December 6 helped boost BGR’s

in the world. Ferrying “tractor-trailer-

versions in one week was almost

year-end boardings.

size generators” from Alabama to Iraq,

unknown even at BGR, and federal

December 2001 was not an

the four-engine jet transport weighed

authorities quickly yanked 20 pas-

anomaly. Bangor passenger traffic

approximately 1.28 million pounds as

sengers off the plane and sent them

rose the first three months in 2002.

it lumbered into the Bangor sky.

packing. “We do offer a service for

“We have experienced an overall

With regional jets now provid-

airlines as a diversion point, whether

increase in the numbers of destina-

ing “95 percent of all seats” available

it’s an unruly passenger, mechani-

tions, jet capacity and frequency of

at BGR, passenger traffic rose sub-

cal problem or medical emergency,”

flights,” said Hupp, citing to the local

stantially in early 2004. Hupp cred-

Hupp pointed out to the press.

media the “regional jet availability”

ited ongoing marketing efforts for

These two flights were unusual

as a major factor in BGR’s growth.

helping bring more people to Bangor

because “a mindset change” had oc-


curred at BGR after 9-11, she said.

Early September 2002 saw the Transportation Security Administra-

Some passengers arrived un-

Prior to that day, “we would receive

tion take over BGR passenger screen-

expectedly. Bound from JFK Inter-

an airliner inbound with an unruly

ing. Travelers adjusted quickly to new

national to Casablanca in Morocco,

passenger. It was not uncommon.

screening requirements.

Royal Air Maroc Flight 201 diverted

“That ceased 9-11. We did not

Northwest Airlines offered an-

to BGR late on Thursday, February

see that same level of diversions after

other Midwest destination for Bangor

19, 2004 after a passenger issued a

that,” Hupp said. “We did not see the

passengers by inaugurating a sea-

bomb threat. In a scene played out

same number of unruly passenger di-

sonal nonstop Bangor-Detroit con-

at BGR several times since 1970, the

versions for the next year or so.”

nection in June 2003. This new ser-

Boeing 767 was thoroughly searched

The 2004 presidential campaign

vice gave passengers more oppor-

and its passengers and crew ques-

brought Air Force One and President

tunities to connect with West Coast

tioned by law officers.

George W. Bush to BGR for a large

and international flights. Bangor International achieved another milestone with the August

They determined that the pas-

on-site rally on September 23. He

senger, a Chicago investment banker,

was just the latest American presi-

had perpetrated a hoax.

dent to fly through Bangor; Dwight D.

21, 2003 landing of a Russian-built

Then on February 25, “a group of

Eisenhower (1955), John F. Kennedy

Antonov AN-225, the largest aircraft

boisterous Britons aboard a Boeing

(1963), and Lyndon B. Johnson (1966)

had stopped at Dow Air Force Base,

flights that December, a move that

beside the airport hotel (now a

and Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and

concerned city officials still smarting

Sheraton) and some 300 feet away

Bill Clinton had flown into BGR.

from the upheavals of the late 1990s.

from the terminals. Another $3 mil-

A National Oceanic and Atmo-

Away from the flight line, vehicu-

lion would be spent to improve the

spheric Administration WP-3D hurri-

lar traffic at BGR had increased sub-

cane hunter and crew staged through

stantially. With Maine Avenue con-

BGR in early May 2005 during the East

necting Hammond Street and Odlin

boardings started declining at BGR,

Coast Hurricane Awareness Tour. On

Road to Union Street and with more

and the parking-garage project went

May 12, an inbound Air France flight

businesses (including an L.L. Bean call

on hold. The airport added 94 parking

diverted to Bangor when a passen-

center) relocating to the airport, the

spaces to the ground-level lot in 2007.

ger’s name popped up on the federal

Maine Department of Transportation

Delta introduced a direct sea-

government’s no-fly list. Taken off the

constructed two roundabouts at BGR.

sonal flight to Atlanta on June 8,

plane at BGR, “the passenger was

The first opened in the mid-2000s.

2006, and the 70-seat jet arrived full

released and allowed to take a later flight” to Boston, the press reported.

ground-level parking lot. Soon



Airport passengers are more fa-

from Hartsfield-Jackson International

miliar with the newest roundabout,

that afternoon. “For consumers this

The no-fly list diverted Boston-

built to eliminate the traffic light at

means more choices, better connec-

bound Alitalia Flight 618 to Bangor on

Maine Avenue and Godfrey Boulevard.

tions, and probably shorter travel

May 17. A male passenger removed

In mid-September 2005, Bangor

from the plane was confirmed as

city councilors tackled the peren-

being definitely on the list, but after

nial parking problem at BGR by hir-


interviewing the man, FBI agents de-

ing a Michigan company to build a

American Airlines Flight 55 to BGR.

cided “he is of no interest,” according

500-vehicle parking garage priced

Federal authorities boarded the Boe-

to the media.

times overall,” Hupp told the press. On Friday, August 25, “a reported diverted


at roughly $7 million. By early March

ing 767 and removed in handcuffs a

“Back in the day, no one knew

2006, the conceptual parking garage

man who “frequently left his seat and

they were on the no-fly list,” Hupp

had expanded to accommodate al-

wore a shiny purple shirt,”

explained. “It was not a published

most 700 vehicles and had risen to

the media reported.

list. The protocol was that it had to

$10.2 million in price.

be checked within a number of hours

The garage would be located

He never threatened anyone. Bangor had inherited a 2-mile,

after take off” rather than before a plane left an airport. Maine Troop Greeters welcomed

Meet Monty Moose

their 1,000th flight at Bangor Interna-

In June 2006, more than 600 Monty Moose stuffed animals

tional on Saturday, April 2, 2005. More

were sent across the globe in the bags of BGR passengers.

than 50 people greeted Army National

A gallery featuring photos of Monty on his adventures

Guardsmen returning from Afghanistan. The same unit had received a similar welcome at BGR while bound overseas in early 2004, so “it was like déjà vu,” said Sergeant Daniel Haddo, “Out of all the stops, this is where we get the warm welcome.” The airport’s domestic passenger count reached approximately 480,000 people in 2005. The news came as American Airlines and Delta reduced

around the world can be found at Monty first came to life in the early 2000’s as a marketing effort to help publicize BGR at trade shows and sponsorship meetings. Monty has grown in notoriety over the years, donning a pilot’s scarf with the BGR logo, and having his photo taken at tourist hotspots worldwide, including the Eiffel Tower, the White House, beside the Charles River in Boston and, of course, perched on Maine’s own Mount Katahdin.


work. That’s one of the things about


recruiting airlines to Bangor; it takes work,” in this case demonstrating to Allegiant that BGR once had a Florida connection via Pan American. She “was really excited” about Allegiant “because Florida was our largest destinations, and Allegiant is a low-cost carrier. This was something our community was hungering for,” a low-cost carrier with affordable fares. And “Allegiant had a proven track Allegiant started service at BGR in 2007, filling a much-needed spot in the leisure market.

record in other cities,” which was important to Hupp.

300-foot-wide runway after the De-

Race Classic (unofficially known as

Allegiant’s first flight from BGR

fense Department closed Dow Air

the Powder Puff Derby) began at

drew some 145 passengers, and the

Force Base in 1968. Large enough

Oklahoma City on June 5 and took

Allegiant-BGR relationship has been

to handle a space shuttle (NASA had

competitors on a four-day, 2,400-

quite successful since then.

designated BGR an alternate land-

mile jaunt to Saint John, New Bruns-

In the wee hours of Saturday,

ing field), the runway was expensive

wick. The aviatrixes dropped into

August 18, the Maine Troop Greet-

to maintain and to plow.

Bangor International on June 7, spent

ers gathered in the BGR domestic

the night, and flew to Saint John the

terminal to await a flight carrying

next day.

soldiers to Iraq. The greeters had met

The Airport reconstructed the runway during the 2000s. The project involved narrowing the runway

Passenger traffic continued to de-

three similar flights since early Friday,

from 300 feet to 150 feet, but flight

cline in 2007 as, reflecting a national

but the Air Force jet transport that

operations dictated when work could

trend, airlines reduced seat capacity to

touched down at 3:30 a.m., Saturday,

take place.

increase the profitability of particular

carried a special passenger.

“That was huge. We basically re-

flights. In mid-July American Eagle of-

A local reporter watched as troop

built the runway on weekends for an

ficials announced plans to drop BGR,

greeters counted the soldiers entering

extended period of time,” Hupp said.

but a press conference held at the do-

the terminal. Suddenly there she was:

“It was an engineering challenge and

mestic terminal on Wednesday, July

Specialist Tommitrea Minnifee of Dal-

an operational challenge.”

18 introduced a new airline to Bangor.

las, “the 500,000th service member

Named the BGR marketing man-

As participating officials donned

welcomed by the Maine Troop Greet-

ager in spring 2007, Risteen Bahr fo-

Mickey Mouse hats, an Allegiant Air

ers” at BGR! People shook her hand

cused on selling Maine “as an attrac-

LLC executive revealed the airline

and cameras flashed as Minnifee took

tive destination to all travelers,” the

would offer two direct Bangor-Or-

in all the excitement.

Bangor Daily News noted. Leveraging

lando Sanford International Airport

Hupp views “managing the in-

Maine’s draw for visitors and BGR’s

flights each week, starting on Novem-

ternational transit business” during

closeness to some of Maine’s most

ber 7. The Florida connection caught

the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

visited attractions, combined with

on with Mainers and Canadians, and

as among the important successes

attracting more local residents to use

as demand rose, Allegiant would add

during her years as airport direc-

BGR became the airport’s focus to in-

more flights and additional destina-

tor. “We were serving as the inter-

crease passengers.

tions from Bangor.

national transit point for all those

Involving 45 planes and only

Hupp and her staff had brought

troops who came through there,”

women pilots, the spring 2007 Air

Allegiant to Bangor “with a lot of hard

she said. “The coordination with the

international carriers and the troop

to spend more money for gas and heat

greeters was significant.”

cut back their spending elsewhere.

Despite the addition of Allegiant

“Discretionary income for travel

Air, 2007 was a tough year for Ban-

was significantly decreased,” she

gor International Airport. The Ban-


gor Daily News reported in mid-De-

Bangor air service fluctuated

cember that “in the past 10 months,”

in 2008 as Delta (Boston and JFK),

BGR “has experienced the lowest

Continental (Newark), Northwest Air-

passenger traffic and seat availabil-

lines (Minneapolis), and US Airways

ity since 2001.”

(LaGuardia and Washington, D.C.)

According to Hupp, airlines had

added seasonal flights to accom-

cut available seats by 33 percent

modate more out-of-state visitors

since 2005, and “for every two seats

traveling to Maine. A print-and-radio

taken away, we lost one passenger.”

campaign combined with a new and

After Hurricane Katrina devas-

informative BGR website targeted the

tated the Gulf Coast and its oil-related

airport’s core market of eastern and

facilities in 2006, “fuel prices sky-

northern Maine and New Brunswick.


Then BGR Assistant Director Tony Caruso pictured with Speciliast Tommitrea Minnifee of Dallas. Minnifee was the 500,000th service member welcomed by the Maine Troop Greeters at BGR.

rocketed,” and by early to mid-2007

While the BGR passenger count

“that made air service, particularly on

dropped 11.6 percent in 2008 from a

smaller jets, prohibitively expensive,”

year earlier, both Allegiant and Con-

and an increase in nonstop flights to

Hupp said.

tinental reported high double-digit

[BGR’s] top destinations,” Hupp in-

“It was no longer economically

increases in their Bangor boardings.

formed the press.

viable” for Delta to fly its smaller jets

Allegiant’s addition of more Florida

Blaming Maine’s taxes on avia-

between Bangor and Boston, for ex-

flights helped reverse BGR’s down-

tion fuel, ExxonMobil ended its de-

ample, she noted. “Airlines could not

ward trends during winter 2008–

cades-long status as the sole jet-fuel

operate those routes profitably.

2009. Passenger traffic rose by 10

seller at BGR in 2009. Airport officials

“Passenger traffic did decrease

percent in February 2009 compared

shifted “to what we called an ‘open-

during those years,” Hupp said. “There

to 12 months earlier, a positive trend

access fuel farm,” Hupp recalled.

was the recession,” and Mainers forced

“most likely due to…decreased fares

“This changed the way we handled fueling at Bangor.”

For decades, ExxonMobil was the sole jet-fuel seller at BGR until 2009.

The new system let airlines negotiate their fuel prices with different suppliers. “It did decrease the end cost to the airlines,” Hupp said. Citing expense and specific issues at Newark, Continental Airlines’ officials cancelled BGR service on July 31, 2009. Despite that loss, passenger traffic had risen for six consecutive months at Bangor. Allegiant



weekly Bangor-St. Petersburg flights on November 20, only ten days before Delta stopped its Bangor-Boston flights for good. The St. Petersburg

during their brief stay at Bangor. By


the time the soldiers left, a Troop Greeters’ message board indicated that “4931 Flights” and “1,000,189 Troops” had passed through Bangor, according to the Bangor Daily News. Excitement gripped Bangor as drivers participating in the 12th Annual Gumball 3000 Rally arrived at BGR on Tuesday, May 4, 2010. The competing 120 teams had started the international road race in London on May 1 and had stopped in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Stockholm before flying directly to BGR. Collectively “worth more than $12 million,” the race cars “were transported separately in chartered 747s to BGR” on May 4, the press noted. Roaring out of Bangor, the racers headed for Boston, Quebec City, Toronto, and a final destination of New York City. Despite the loss of Continental Airlines in 2009 and the Delta-Northwest merger, passenger traffic rose 4 percent at BGR in 2010. “The airlines responded to the region’s strong demand by increasing capacity for the last several months,” a pleased Hupp reported in late January 2011. Twelve months later, US Airways introduced daily direct flights to Reagan National Airport, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., considered among the top five destination for BGR fliers. Allegiant introduced nonstop service from BGR to

The Maine Troop Greeters Museum is a permanent fixture at BGR.

flights did well in winter 2009–2010. The Maine Troop Greeters wel-

Hupp left Bangor International in

Drivers participating in the 12th annual Gumball 3000 Rally arrived at BGR on Tuesday, May 4, 2010. The competing 120 teams had started the international road race in London on May 1 and had stopped in Amster-dam, Copenhagen, and Stockholm before flying directly to BGR.

comed “the 1 millionth service mem-

early 2012 to manage the Boise Air-

ber to disembark at the airport” early

port in Boise, Idaho. Bangor city coun-

on Monday, March 22, 2010. Soldiers

cilors soon approved naming BGR’s

bound overseas from the 4th Infantry

assistant director, Tony Caruso, as the

Division received a warm welcome

airport’s interim director.

Fort Lauderdale in November.

Tony Caruso June 2012 – Present

W i t h b u s i n e s s o n t h e u p s w i n g at Bangor International Airport in early 2012, interim director Tony Caruso welcomed a recurring problem that had occasionally arisen since the airport opened in 1968: insufficient parking for people using BGR. After a temporary domestic terminal opened in the former Dow Air Force Base fire station in 1968, the affiliated parking lot often overflowed. Driver complaints aside about paying to use the lot, it was busy because people used BGR. In the mid-2000s, the overflowing parking lot serving BGR’s two modern terminals led to plans for a parking garage. That project never materialized after the world economic downturn and rising fuel prices in the late 2000s suppressed domesticpassenger traffic at Bangor and across the United States.

“BGR has given me the opportunity to be involved in many different aspects and work on various exciting projects. Being involved in a major terminal renovation that resulted in successfully improving the customer experience was very rewarding. This project was completed on time and within budget, just prior to reaching the 500,000 mark for passengers, a benchmark never reached at BGR.”

“We can’t support a [parking] garage year round, 12 months out of the year. That’s currently why we still don’t have a garage,” Caruso noted. By spring 2012, however, recent additions of non-stop flights to Fort Lauderdale and Washington, D.C. had broadened travel opportunities for BGR passengers. Airport business increased. By then “we noticed a peak season” for flying, “primarily [from] the end of January, early February to early to mid-April,” Caruso recalled. “Part of that was obviously due to Allegiant serving the market” with flights to Florida. “We noticed that peak period was peak for parking,” too, he said. “We were basically parking cars all around Godfrey Boulevard” and, one winter, inside a nearby hangar.


always good business for the airport,


but it’s great to see that we weren’t in two wars any more,” he said. “If you stop and think, we were in two wars for over 10 years. “So the struggle in my first or second year was to continue to focus on all of our other business segments.,“ Caruso said. “We had to stabilize and continue to strengthen those as much as we can. We’ve done that.” While troop flights have declined, “more recently we’ve been active with what we call the ‘true military,’ the BGR welcome United Airlines back to the local market in June 2016.

gray airplanes,” the Air Force C-17s and C-5s “that continue to transit our

“The demand just exceeded our ca-

Bound for the United States from

pacity, so several years ago we looked

Paris, France, US Airways Flight 787

area,” he noted. “We’ve been working even more

at doing something,” he recalled.

diverted to BGR on May 22, 2012 after

closely” with the 101st Air Refueling

The Airport opened a paid-park-

Transportation Security Administra-

Wing, Maine Air National Guard, which

ing lot on Maine Avenue about a half

tion officials learned that a passenger

“went to what they call the pre-9/11

mile from the terminals, to which the

was acting suspiciously. The Boeing

staffing levels,” Caruso said. Airport

lot is connected by a shuttle. Open

767 touched down in Bangor about

employees service the military trans-

only during peak seasons and man-

12 noon, and law officers boarded the

ports “during those late hours through

aged by Republic Parking System,

plane and dealt with the situation.

the night and on some weekends.

the shuttle lot offers lower rates than

On June 26, Bangor City Manager

“We will cover that traffic during

the short- and long-term parking lots

Catherine Conlow named Caruso as

that period in addition to continued

nearer the terminals.

the new BGR director, and city coun-

support during the day,” he said.

“With the shuttle service, we

cilors quickly voted their approval.

“We have a great relationship”

literally do door-to-door service” for

That fall, the Sargent Corpora-

with the Maine Army and Air Guard

passengers, Caruso said. “We meet

tion reconstructed the general avia-

units at Bangor, Caruso stated. “It’s

them with a courtesy van” at the

tion ramp to handle 150,000-pound

more than a partnership. We’re on

shuttle lot, “take them directly from

aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 and

a first-name basis with a number of

their car to the front door of the ter-

similar planes. The U.S. Department

their key personnel, top to bottom.

minal,” and “when they come back”

of Transportation provided $4.9 mil-

Certainly we use each other as re-

from a trip, “we meet them right at

lion for the $4.913-million project.

sources. It’s just a really good rela-

the front of the terminal, and we bring them right to their car door.”

While domestic boardings rose 6

tionship on a number of fronts.”

percent in 2013, BGR experienced a

He senses that “this region has

The shuttle lot opened only for

7-percent decline in flight operations

such a rich military history,” due primar-

the peak outbound season until late

and an 11-percent downturn in fuel

ily to Dow Air Force Base. “That rich

2017, when for the first time “we had

sales. “The big factor was the drastic

military history, it’s almost woven into

to open” the lot “during the holiday

reduction in the military troop traffic,”

the fabric of this area. It really started

season,” Caruso said. “It was a second

Caruso recalled.

here at the airport,” Caruso said.

peak period for us, obviously resulting from our increased airline traffic.”

“That certainly was a big change

In its early decades, Bangor Inter-

for us that we had to react to. It was

national often handled international

flights diverted to Maine by bad

pointed out. “It’s tourism driven.”

Southern school vacations, Ameri-

weather elsewhere on the East Coast.

A proposal floated years earlier

can Airlines introduced a Saturday-

Better weather forecasting had al-

became reality on July 19, 2016 when

only seasonal flight to Charlotte,

most eliminated similar diversions, but

the U.S. Department of the Treasury

North Carolina that flew from June 3

a winter storm grounded two charters

granted BGR a license to refuel and

to August 19.

flights at BGR overnight on January

service international flights bound for

The Charlotte connection was so

11, 2014. That same storm caused a

Cuba. A federal travel ban enacted in

popular that American Airlines an-

Delta Airlines’ flight from LaGuardia

the 1960s had prevented “foreign air

nounced plans in late 2017 to offer the

to slide off a BGR taxiway that after-

carriers traveling to or from Cuba …

same Saturday-only flights from June

noon. No one was injured.

from refueling and receiving services

7 to November 3 in 2018. Saturday

at U.S. airports,” recalled Senator

service to Chicago would be available

Susan Collins.

between those same dates, too.

The 2014 merger of American Airlines and US Airways left airport officials and some passengers wor-

Bangor International wrapped up

The Chicago connection particu-

ried that BGR would lose its Wash-

a $14-million remodeling project in-

larly gives BGR passengers access

ington, D.C. connection. Maine’s U.S.

volving the domestic terminal, now of-

to West Coast and Pacific flights.

senators, Susan Collins and Angus

ficially known as the Peter R. D’Errico

“Whenever I’m out and talking to a

King, wrote both airlines’ CEOs about

Passenger Terminal. This project in-

group, some organization, or the pub-

the importance of the Reagan Na-

cluded $1.9 million to add a new Gate

lic, I tell people, ‘Yes, it’s great to have

tional Airport connection to Bangor-

3 and a state-of-the-art jet bridge.

these direct flights’” to Philadelphia,

and Portland-area passengers.

The changing calendar brought

Washington, D.C., and elsewhere,

Collins announced on January 15

news that Delta Airlines would drop

“but, remember, it’s really about ac-

that American Airlines would keep

its Bangor-Detroit flights on Janu-

cess,” he said.

the Washington, D.C. flights from

ary 1, 2017 and would replace that

“At the end of the day, can some-

both airports.

Midwest connection with daily ser-

body in the Bangor region hop on

A mecca for south-bound travel-

vice to JFK International in New York,

an airplane and go to Shanghai?”

ers in winter and early spring, Bangor

effective April 1. Coinciding with

Caruso asked. “Yes, one stop through

International experiences a surge in in-bound passengers each summer as tourists pour into Maine. To accommodate this traffic increase, airlines often introduce specific seasonal flights to BGR. For example, United Airlines returned to Bangor in June 2016 with seasonal flights to Chicago and Newark. American Airlines added daily Saturday–Sunday flights from BGR to LaGuardia from June 4–September 4 that year and then offered an extra daily flight to LaGuardia during the 2016 holiday season. “We’re a seasonal-type airport, so we see higher numbers of folks coming” to Bangor “during the summer months and into early, mid-fall,” Caruso

In 2016, completion of the domestic terminal upgrade was marked by its renaming in honor of Peter D’Errico, BGR’s longest serving airport director.



BGR recently completed a $14 million plus refurbishment program, which meant creating improved operating efficiencies, as well as a considerably enhanced passenger experience. Seen above, a striking ‘river of light’ is one of the main architectural features of the enlarged departures concourse. Along with the extensive use of wood and other materials the light feature evokes Maine’s waterways, vast forests and other natural resources.

Chicago. It’s about access and giving

Behind the scenes state-of-the-art baggage handling systems have been installed at BGR, which make use of in-line baggage screening to provide a quicker, more efficient way of getting bags inspected prior to being loaded onto outbound aircraft.

people flew through BGR on domestic

you access to the rest of the world.

we have been doing,” he said. Marketing involves selling Ban-

“You could be one, maybe two

gor to the airlines. “We have worked

stops away from anywhere in the

closely with our air-service coordina-

world, and vice versa, giving the

tor” to find markets “that we know

world access to our region,” he said.

will be sustainable, viable” for air-

“Ultimately that’s what it’s about.”

lines flying from BGR, Caruso said. “I

According to Caruso, 546,264

think some of the airlines have realized that.”

flights in 2017, a 10.7-percent increase

“The airlines have also realized

from 2016 and a 12.6-increase from

some of the investments that have

2015, both record-setting years.

gone into the airport, the city, the

The half-million domestic passenger mark was a long-sought goal,

region here. That certainly helps,” he said.

and Caruso cited “a number of fac-

And because the City of Bangor

tors” that helped achieve it. “We start

serves as BGR’s fixed-base operator,

with our staff here … the people that

“we have the ability to do the aircraft

work here.

ground handling,” Caruso said. “That

“They’ve got a good work ethic,”

has actually really helped us” while

he said. “We’ve even used this in

reducing start-up costs for airlines

some of our sales meetings when

new to Bangor.

we’re talking with potential custom-

“They don’t have all those

ers or airlines. We say, ‘The answer is

[FBO-related] issues they have to

‘yes,’ now what is the question?’

deal with, and we manage that for

“We don’t say ‘no.’ Our employees truly do go the extra mile … on a day-to-day basis,” Caruso said. Then there is “the marketing that

them,” he explained. Of course, 2017’s passenger record occurred because each day, travelers opted to fly through BGR

rather than somewhere else. “There

“We were able to help support the

The first pertains to shipping

has been a really good response in

LifeFlight consolidation and expan-

“lobster, seafood, the perishable items

the region to the airline service that

sion here at the airfield,” Caruso said.

from this region,” he said. “Given our

we have, both on the business side

Among the airport’s assets is

geographical location,” Bangor is

and on the leisure side,” with peo-

the Four Points by Sheraton Bangor

“located that much closer to Europe”

ple “responding very well to those

Airport, the hotel located directly

and can ship lobster and seafood

flights,” Caruso said. “My hat goes

across from the domestic terminal

off to the local community for utilizing

and opened as a Hilton in summer

their local airport.”

1975. “It’s a good resource for us…

Although most people associ-

for flights, for flight-crew members,

ate BGR solely with the airlines and

for passengers,” especially Canadi-

aircraft using it, a lot of activity takes

ans traveling to Bangor to fly south

place away from the flight line. The

in winter, “primarily to some of the

airport supports more than 1,600

Florida destinations,” Caruso said.

jobs, many at businesses that lease airport properties.

Some Canadians “drive five, six hours to get to our airport to take a

“My hat goes off to the local community for utilizing their local airport.” four-to-six hours sooner than similar shipments can take off from Boston or New York.

“We’re finally at a point—and

flight,” he said. Often arriving “a day

since I’ve been here…since ’96—this is

or two early,” Canadians may “do

the first time that I can remember that

some shopping in the area and stay

The second area involves offer-

we’ve had almost 100 percent of our

in the hotel” before flying out. They

ing air-cargo carriers an Economic

properties leased,” Caruso observed.

then may stay at the hotel for another

Tech(nical) Stop. A plane hauling air

“Off the airfield, we have a number of

day upon returning to Bangor.

cargo usually takes off with sufficient

non-aeronautical properties (such as General Electric). That’s all leased.”

“That’s that one area that we’ve been looking at,” Caruso noted.

Air cargo has been a difficult mar-

fuel to reach the final destination,

ket for Bangor International to pen-

and the remaining weight the plane

The only “on-airport” site left to

etrate since 1968. However, “I think

can carry is devoted to the payload.

lease “is a smaller bay in the corpo-

we’re closer than we have ever been,”

“Our approach is, ‘Make Bangor your

rate hangar,” he said. “Everything

Caruso commented. “There are two

destination for a tech stop’” involv-

else that can be leased is leased.”

key elements here to air cargo that we

ing refueling and “minimal services,”

think Bangor could play a role in.”

Caruso said.

Having suitable properties available helped BGR “support the expansion of C&L Aerospace here on the airfield. They’re a good, stable anchor tenant,” Caruso said. C&L Aerospace came to BGR after acquiring Air Cargo, which had purchased Telford Aviation. “They started with 22 employees, and I believe now they are up to over 150.” C&L Aerospace now leases the four massive former B-52 hangars near the airport terminals. Based for some years at a small hangar near Maine Avenue, LifeFlight of Maine needed more space and moved to the 600 Area where C&L Aerospace was originally located.

The Antonov An-225 always draws a large crowd of plane spotters.


The plane could carry enough fuel


to reach BGR, thus freeing up weight for a greater payload. “It reduces your fuel requirement, but it increases your payload” and revenue, he said. “It’s a simple, but I think brilliant concept.” Bangor



has “started to roll out” the Economic Tech Stop “at a number of cargo conferences and directly to air-cargo

The Maine Troop Greeters & Museum Though the actual troop greeting began in 1991, May of 2003 was the year a small group of Bangor area residents began greeting military flights passing through BGR. Over the years, this group of volunteers continued to grow and in 2008 became incorporated as the Maine Troop Greeters and registered as a non-profit organization. Today, this volunteer corps consists of more than 400 members and continues to greet troops, day and night, rain or shine. Over the last 15 years, more than 7,500 flights with more than 1.5 million service members and over 400 military dogs have been welcomed at BGR.

carriers,” according to Caruso. As BGR enters its 51st year, he foresees domestic passenger traffic “continuing to at least meet or exceed that half million mark, going forward.” The expansion of the Charlotte and Chicago flights into the “shoulder season” of late fall indicates the Bangor is becoming a stronger market for airlines, Caruso stated. “I continue to see a strong domestic air-service product in and out of this airport,” he said. “I see us continuing to play the role as the diversion and tech stop airport. I see an increasing role in the cargo arena.” Looking back on the five decades since Bangor paid $1 for a former Air Force base, Caruso gave city officials

As troops shared their stories with the

full credit for transforming that base

greeters, they also left behind pieces of

into a modern airport. “The contin-

themselves in their gifts. With careful

ued support that we’ve received from

thought and consideration, the greeters have crafted a home for the amassed collection. The Maine Troop Greeters Museum became a permanent fixture at BGR in November 2017. The museum is built along the walls of the International Arrivals ramp at BGR where all troops entering the airport are met by the greeters.

the current city council, previous city councils, current city management and




made Bangor International Airport possible, he said. “I think they all understand and realize the resource that they have here, the asset that this region has,

The collection is impressive enough that it

and the important role that we play in

will be listed in the 2019 Guinness Book of

economic development here locally in

World Records as the largest collection of Challenge coins (5969), all of which have been given to the greeters by the troops.

the region, but also the role that Bangor plays in aviation,” Caruso said.