Featured Map: Departure-Only Airports (27 February 2011)

Kamikaze pilots are familiar with the notion of departing from somewhere but never landing there. (Ok, they may have flown to the ships whence they departed, but you get the general idea.) For a variety of reasons, I have accumulated a half-dozen departure-only airports or airports from which I have departed on a commercial flight but never landed. In contrast, there is only one airport at which I have landed but never departed, though many airports have briefly held that distinction over the years.

DCA: My first departure-only airport was what was then called Washington National Airport. Having lived nearly half my life in California and working in the high-tech business, Dulles is a far more useful airport for me. However, on one trip, I met a friend for some Washington sightseeing, then flew to Miami to spend the weekend with some other friends in Key Largo, Florida, and DCA happened to be more convenient that one time.

EWR: Several years later, my nephew got married in southern Delaware. I flew into Philadelphia, drove to his wedding, then went to Salisbury, Maryland where a friend met me in a Piper Arrow IV and we flew to Monmouth Executive Airport, and I finally flew home from Newark, logging my only visit to Newark.

CMH: Later that year I had a business trip to Cleveland. Afterwards, a friend and I went to visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. That evening, he dropped me off at Columbus for my flight home.

FLL: At the end of that year I again went to Key Largo to spend New Year's Eve with friends, flying into Miami as usual. Coming at the end of the holiday break, return flights from Miami were incredibly expensive, so I flew home from the less-convenient but considerably cheaper Ft. Lauderdale.

SAF: A business trip to Los Alamos, New Mexico resulted in my booking flights through Denver to Santa Fé. I really did plan to fly INTO as well as out of Santa Fé but a strong February storm and Beachcraft B1900 equipment foiled my plans so instead I flew to Albuquerque on a Boeing 757. Weather had improved by my return the next day so I flew out of Santa Fé as planned, but I have yet to land there.

LIR: Last week we took a family vacation to Costa Rica. We flew into San José but immediately went by road to Arenal for the first part of our visit, then on to Playa Tamarindo for the remainder. Yesterday, we flew home from Liberia (the city in Costa Rica, not the country), which became my sixth departure-only airport. This trip also logged SJO as my only long-term arrival-only airport. We really enjoyed Costa Rica so it's likely that SJO and/or LIR won't keep their distinctions for long.

Baltimore/Washington International Airport (now named for Thurgood Marshall) deserves an honorable mention on this list. The company I worked for in 1984 chartered a bus to take the entire engineering team from Pittsburgh to a show in Baltimore. I needed to visit a customer in San Francisco later that week so instead of going home on the bus I flew BWI-CLE-SFO via United's Cleveland mini-hub which subsequently moved to become the start of their large hub at Dulles. (Cleveland is again a hub for United by way of the merger with Continental.) I didn't return to BWI for nearly 14 years, flying in (and out) for a business trip. The next year I again flew out of BWI without landings there, having arrived via Dulles.

Today's Featured Map chronicles these lopsided travels, and also introduces a new feature which allows different marker styles for the origin and destination endpoints of a path.

Departure-Only Airports


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