News / 9.15.16

Throwback Thursday – United Air Lines National Air Transport Division

Featured two massive 120-foot hangar doors

For this week's Epstein Throwback Thursday we visit Kansas City, Missouri in August 1931 for the opening of the United Air Lines National Air Transport Division office and hangar. Located in what was then called the Kansas City Municipal Airport (now known as the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport) this Epstein designed and engineered aviation facility featured a 26' tall 1 & 2 story administrative building attached to a 148'x121' hangar which had two massive 120' doors.

An interesting side note about Kanas City Municipal Airport was that it was located right next to the rail tracks that run along the Missouri River at Hannibal Bridge, a location that was dictated to the reasoning 100 years ago that air travel was handled in conjunction with rail traffic.

In June of 1931 United Air Lines was formally established as an entity and became of the domestic 'Big Four' airlines which also included Eastern Air Transport, American Airways and Transcontinental and Wester Air (TWA). National Air Transport, which was founded in 1925 and was the first US airline to operate cross country flights, was a company that provided air mail delivery. National was bought by Boeing in 1930 and due to laws within the Air Mail Act, which prohibited airlines and manufacturers from being under the same corporate umbrella, spun off National under the United Air Lines name.

If you are curious the plane seen here is a Ford 4-AT-E Trimotor which was nicknamed 'The Tin Goose' and was a three-engine transport aircraft that was built from 1925 to 1933.

And lastly, as you may have surmised this facility no longer exists but it's still pretty fascinating looking back at a building that was one of our first aviation projects for an industry that we are now considered one of the preeminent design and engineering consultants.