August 9, 2021
Coming in at no. 90 on Epstein’s Top 100 Projects countdown is the United Air Lines National Air Transport Division office and hangar, our very first aviation industry project.
Completed in 1931, and 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 and 2-story administrative building attached to a 148’x121’ hangar that featured two massive 120’ doors.
Interestingly, the Kanas City Municipal Airport was located next to the rail tracks that run along the Missouri River at Hannibal Bridge. This location was chosen because of the 100-year-old reasoning that air travel was going to be handled in conjunction with rail traffic.
In June of 1931, United Air Lines was formally established as an entity and became one of the domestic "big four" airlines, which also included Eastern Air Transport, American Airways and Transcontinental and Wester Air. National Air Transport, founded in 1925 and the first U.S. 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're curious, the plane seen below is a Ford 4-AT-E Trimotor, nicknamed "The Tin Goose," and was a 3-engine transport aircraft that was built from 1925 to 1933.