July 2018

304 305 roughly one year after his historic flight across the Atlantic. “The whole town came out to greet him,” Connorton recounts. “He was a world re- nowned aviator and they wined and dined him. I believe he was on a national tour at that time, flying around to different airports, and that really got the aviation thing going.We had Amelia Ear- hart here in 1931 when she was visiting the area.” Spartanburg also serves as a memorial to pilots who perished in World War I, an honor marked by a memorial at the Airport’s entrance, as well as information on another memorial found inside the terminal, which was erected in 1937. “For about 30 years, or so, we had commercial flights flying out of here.We had Delta, Southern, and Piedmont to name a few,” says Connorton. “In 1962, 1963, an airport opened nearby called Greenville-Spartanburg or GSP, and when it opened, all the commercial aviation traffic went over to that location because it had a bigger runway. So the Airport lost its commercial traffic, but it retained all of its commercial business and flight instruction and similar aviation activities.” GSP aside, there are similar size airports in Spartanburg Downtown Memorial’s vicinity that provide what Connorton describes as “friendly competition” for his facility. “Our friendly compet- itors are going to be Downtown Greenville; they have an airport that is about the same size as us, but they do have a lot more traffic over there. And there’s an airport called Donaldson (Field); they have more military (traffic), but they also have a SPARTANBURG DOWNTOWN MEMORIAL AIRPORT