Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport?

The soon-to-be Roanoke-Blacksburg Regonal Airport.
The soon-to-be Roanoke-Blacksburg Regonal Airport.
The soon-to-be Roanoke-Blacksburg Regonal Airport.

Yep.  That will be the new name of Roanoke Regional Airport on Jan. 1.

The Roanoke Regional Airport Commission announced the name change Tuesday because Virginia Tech is the largest corporate user of the airport and because the commission says the New River Valley is an important economic part of the area.

Another evolution in the identity of the airport that was known simply as “Woodrum Field” back in the mid 1960s when I used it as part of my role as a reporter, photographer and columnist for The Roanoke Times.

It will be interesting to see if the name change generates any debate.  When I worked in the St. Louis area from 1969-81, the city’s airport went through a number of name changes.

Originally known as Lambert Field, named after Olympic Albert Bond Lambert, who also manufactured the mouthwash Listerine, it was briefly renamed “St. Louis International Airport” but that name change created a lot of local anger over both the generic labeling and the elimination of Lambert’s name.  Eventually, the name, officially, became “Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.”

Roanoke’s airport, built in 1929, was named Woodrum Field for former sixth-district Congressman Clifton Woodrum in 1941 but was also officially known as Roanoke Municipal Airport.

The name changed to Roanoke Regional Airport in 1983 and the airport commission laughingly flirted with changing the name to Roanoke International Airport in 2001, even though no international flights originated or ended at the airport.  The economic downtown in the airline industry after the 9/11 attacks helped doom that idea.

Now the airport will become Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.  Which begs the question:  Why just Blacksburg?  Why not Roanoke-New River Valley Regional Airport?

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