A move to change the name of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport touched a nerve with many readers, many of whom say the name Lambert must be kept at the front.
The airport commission is set to vote Wednesday on whether to rename it as St. Louis International Airport at Lambert Field, a switch airport leaders hope will help better market the region globally and emphasize St. Louis while keeping ties to history. Any name change also must be approved by the city’s Board of Estimate and Apportionment and by the Board of Aldermen.
The proposed name has the support of many in the business community, including Civic Progress, an organization of top executives from the region’s largest companies.
But it has riled up several members of the Lambert family who want the name left alone, and others who say the Lambert name should not be pushed to the end of the airport’s name.
Among that group is Albert Stix IV, director of new aircraft acquisitions at the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum at Creve Coeur Airport. He started a “Save Lambert-St. Louis International Airport” page on Facebook.
Many of the posts are devoted to Albert Bond Lambert, who was key in the airport’s founding and its namesake. His long list of accomplishments includes getting St. Louis to host the 1923 International Air Races, an event that brought Charles Lindbergh here. Lambert became one of Lindbergh’s first financial backers for his historic nonstop flight from New York to Paris in 1927, and sold his land to the city of St. Louis for a bargain for the airport.
Stix’s Facebook page mixes posts about airport history with modern-day forms of protest found on social media, including a meme of a resigned-looking George Clooney — he filmed scenes for the 2010 movie “Up in the Air” at Lambert — with this text: “I’m flying into St. Louis International Airport. Said no airline passenger, ever.”
Stix supports airport leadership and applauds work to re-energize the airport. But he thinks this change is a misstep.
“We’re walking away from something that is in lockstep with the St. Louis area. It’s a brand. I don’t think that having St. Louis as the second word in the name takes away from it,” said Stix, a board member of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society.
Not surprisingly, people took to Twitter to weigh in on the proposed name change. One user tweeted that it be renamed Jeff Fisher Airport with only gates 7-9 available — a nod to the dismal record of the Rams’ coach in 2013 and 2015.
Funny, but not as snarky as the call that came from a man who said he was reading the story about the idea to rename the airport as he sat in a Cracker Barrel — call it the Stan Kroenke Airport, he said, and allow only departures.
Launching a social media campaign isn’t something Elmer Meyer, who was key in running Trans World Airlines at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport many decades ago, will be doing.
I met him Monday, two days before his 101st birthday, at the assisted-living home where he lives with his wife, Ruth, in Webster Groves. His niece grew up hearing his stories of his time at TWA, and emailed me after reading coverage of the proposed name change.
Meyer never met Lambert and has no objection to a new name for the airport.
“It won’t hurt me,” he said.
Meyer can’t remember the exact dates he worked for the now-defunct airline. He became a TWA man in the mid-1930s, and was there beyond the end of World War II. Photos show him at the airport as a young man.
In the early days, his duties included shooting a gun to scare stray dogs off the runway so planes could land.
Meyer’s job got better as he climbed the ladder at the airline, he said, and included chatting with celebrities including actor Cary Grant and spending a night out with Howard Hughes, who took control of TWA in 1939.
Meyers remembers arranging for a limo to take Hughes and his associates to the Chase Park Plaza Hotel, and Hughes told him to come along.
He stayed out with Hughes and his group until 3 a.m., he said, when Hughes decided he wanted to go to Kansas City right away. Meyer said he frantically called his TWA counterparts there to make arrangements for a proper welcome that wasn’t needed — Hughes ended up flying through to Los Angeles.
Meyers liked his job, but was never interested in being a pilot.
“I had enough to do,” he said.