Bob Hope Airport began its history as United Airport when it opened on Memorial Day weekend, 1930. Built by the United Airports Company of California, Ltd., it was said to be the first multimillion-dollar airport in the country, and it quickly became the primary airport for the greater Los Angeles region. Many of the early heroes of aviation frequented the facility, especially those connected with nearby Lockheed Aircraft Company, such as Wiley Post, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindbergh.
In 1940, as World War II approached, Lockheed purchased the airport and began expanding its facilities in support of the war effort on land adjacent to the airport’s runways. Lockheed changed the airport’s name to Lockheed Air Terminal and continued to operate it as a commercial airport, even as thousands of B-17s, Hudson bombers, and P-38 fighters rolled off the assembly lines.
After the war, all the major carriers moved to Los Angeles Municipal Airport, today’s LAX. But airline service returned to Burbank in a big way when jet airliners capable of using Burbank’s short runways came along in the late 1960s. The airport’s name was changed to Hollywood-Burbank Airport, and the airport caught on as the most convenient place for a quick flight to the Bay Area and other West Coast cities.
Lockheed sold the airport in 1978 to an airport authority created by Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena, who soon renamed it Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport. The 3 million people living within 20 miles of the airport have continued to attract airline service up and down the West Coast as well as to mid-continent hubs such as Denver and Salt Lake City, and today there are even nonstop flights to New York.
The airport was renamed in honor of legendary entertainer Bob Hope in December, 2003. It is a vital part of the Southern California airport system, serving 5 million passengers each year.