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Bangor International Airport
BGR Airport Logo.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator City of Bangor
Serves Bangor, Maine
Elevation AMSL 192 ft / 59 m
Coordinates 44°48′26″N 068°49′41″W / 44.80722°N 68.82806°W / 44.80722; -68.82806
Direction Length Surface
ft m
15/33 11,440 3,487 Asphalt

Bangor International Airport (IATA: BGRICAO: KBGR) is a joint civil-military public airport located 3 miles (5 km) west in the city of Bangor, in Penobscot County, Maine, United States. It is owned and operated by the City of Bangor and was formerly a military installation known as Dow Air Force Base. The airport possesses a single runway that is 11,439 ft (3486 m) long and 200 ft (60 m) wide. Despite the departure of most of the Air Force presence in the late 1960s, Bangor International Airport remains the home of a small Air Force contingent in the form of an Air National Guard Base. This installation is hosted by the 101st Air Refueling Wing of the Maine Air National Guard, flying the KC-135 Stratotanker.

The airport owes its prosperity to its location on the Great Circle Route, or major air corridor, between Europe and the East Coast of the United States. The 'international' in the airport's name thus doesn't refer to its proximity to Canada (to which it has no regular flights), but its role in transatlantic commerce.

Bangor International is operated as an "enterprise fund", which means that the expense of operating it comes from airport revenue. Revenues are generated by air service operations, resident aviation related industrial companies, real estate, cargo, international charter flights, and corporate/general aviation traffic. The airport serves the residents of central, eastern, and northern Maine as well as parts of Canada. BGR is the airport's official designation. The airport is one of three international airports in the state of Maine.



Bangor International Airport began as "Godfrey Field" in the 1920s, on land owned by local attorney Edward Rawson Godfrey (1877–1958). On Aug. 19, 1923, virtually the entire US Army Air Corps (15 Martin Bombers and 11 DeHaviland Scout Planes) under the command of Gen. Billy Mitchell landed there on practice mission.[1]

Regular air passenger service to Portland and Boston was begun in 1931 by Boston-Maine Airways, owned by the Boston and Maine and Bangor and Aroostook railroads, but under contract to Pan American, which was interested in the airport as one stop on its planned intercontinental air route between the US and Europe. In 1940 Boston-Maine became Northeast Airlines, which eventually merged with Delta Airlines in 1972. Amelia Earhart was a celebrity pilot on some of the earliest flights for Boston-Maine Airways in the 1930s. The airport was equipped with floodlights for night flights as early as 1937.

F-84G Thunderjets from the 14th Fighter Group

Just prior to the Second World War Godfrey Field was taken over by the US Army Air Corps and became the Bangor Army Air Field. Its mission was to serve as an embarkation point for military aircraft flying to Europe on the Great Circle Route. The name was changed to Dow Army Field in 1942, and in 1947, when the newly formed US Air Force took control, it became Dow Air Force Base and part of the Strategic Air Command (SAC). In 1958, the longest runway east of the Mississippi was constructed at Dow AFB in order to accommodate B-52 Stratofortress bombers — the same runway that accommodates jet passenger aircraft today. In addition to strategic bombers, Dow was home to the 14th Fighter Group and 101st Fighter Wing of the Maine Air National Guard. The 101st later converted to an air refueling mission, was renamed the 101st Air Refueling Wing (101 ARW) and still shares space with the airport today. Flying the Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker as an Air National Guard unit, the 101 ARW is operationally gained by the Air Mobility Command (AMC). Some of the other military aircraft that regularly use the airport are Air Force C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, as well commercial passenger and cargo aircraft operating under AMC charter.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Bangor was a destination for Northeast Airlines before its merger into Delta. Northeast usually used the DC-6 for service between Bangor and Boston and New York. In 1965 there was still a single weekly DC-3 flight to Bangor operated by Northeast Airlines.

Dow AFB was closed as an active duty Air Force installation in 1968 but most of the base was purchased by the city and reopened the following year as Bangor International Airport. That portion of Dow AFB not turned over to the city became the basis for the current Air National Guard Base and the Maine Army National Guard's Army Aviation Support Facility.

From the 1970s into the 1990s the airport attracted 3,000–5,000 commercial flights a year, mostly charter jetliners flying between Europe and the West Coast of the United States, or the Caribbean and Mexico.[2] Bangor was a logical refueling stop, and as a US Port of Entry, passengers could go through customs and immigration checks while their plane was being serviced. Travelers from every part of the world mingled in the airport lounge — from the French & Belgian contingents of the Elvis Presley Fan Club on their way to Memphis, to President Jose Lopez Portillo of Mexico on his way to Moscow with members of his military staff. Laker Airways, World Airways, Lot Polish Airlines, Aeromexico, British Airways, Balair, Condor Airlines, LTU International, Capitol International Airways, Aeroflot and Pan American were a few of the companies whose livery became common in the skies above Bangor. Finnair briefly used Bangor as a hub for regularly scheduled daily flights.

Erwin Kreuz, a 50-year-old German brewery worker on his way to San Francisco, stepped off a refueling charter flight in 1977 mistakenly believing he had reached his destination. Speaking no English, he spent four frustrating days in Bangor looking for San Francisco landmarks before realizing he was not in California. When his story made local and then national news, Bangorians were so delighted with his error that he received the 'key to the city', met the Governor of Maine, was made an honorary member of the Penobscot Indian tribe, received a marriage proposal, and was even given a gift of local land. The San Francisco Chronicle paid his way to California, where he was similarly feted, and he was invited back to Bangor the following year to help open the Bangor Mall.[3]

In October 1969 ,a Trans World Airlines plane which had been hijacked in California refueled in Bangor on its way to Rome, where the hijacker was captured. In October 1995, Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chermomyrdin held a brief summit at the airport to discuss economic cooperation.[4]

Bangor has been the port of entry for over half a million servicemen and women returning from the First and Second Gulf Wars and the action in Bosnia on military charters. Starting in 1991, a combination of local veteran's groups and interested citizens formed themselves into troop greeters to avoid the situation of the Vietnam War, when soldiers returned without ceremony or greeting. The civilian-driven 'ceremony of return' in Bangor has been well organized and often ebullient. In 2006, former president Bill Clinton spontaneously joined the line of troop-greeters when his private plane made a refueling stop.


Diversion destination

Aerial view of Bangor International Airport

Bangor is the first major American airport encountered by airliners approaching the United States from the east as well as the last major airport for airliners heading towards Europe. Coupled with a runway that is more than two miles (3.2 km) long and an uncluttered airspace, the airport has been a favorite for airplanes diverted due to adverse weather conditions at the destination airport, bomb threats, or the presence of unruly passengers on board.

Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, Bangor has also been used as a diversion point for airplanes approaching the United States from Europe which may contain passengers on the Transportation Security Administration's No Fly List. One notable example was the diversion of singer Cat Stevens (now Usuf Islam) and his daughter, in September 2004.[5]

In May 2005, Bangor handled two such flights in the span of four hours. A Britannia Airways Boeing 767, flying from Manchester, England to New Orleans, Louisiana, landed at Bangor on a Friday about noon. Four hours later, a British Airways Boeing 747, flying from London Heathrow Airport to Mexico City, did the same. Subsequent changes to the methodology of no-fly lists and enforcement by the airlines have rendered future such occurrences less probable.

Transatlantic flights are also sometimes diverted to Bangor when they experience mechanical trouble. Among those who've made unscheduled stops for that reason are former President George H. W. Bush and Colin Powell,[6] and actors Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford. Bangor International Airport is also an emergency landing site for the NASA Space Shuttle.

Pilots often use Bangor's location to prepare aggressive fuel estimates for transatlantic flights to North American destinations, since there is always the possibility of diverting to Bangor for an unscheduled refueling stop should the fuel load prove insufficient to reach the original destination in North America, and in fact it is somewhat common for this diversion to occur.

Current service

Over 50 scheduled flights per day on five major domestic airlines give Bangor nonstop connections with[7] Philadelphia, Detroit, Orlando/Sanford Florida, New York's LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport and (seasonally) Minneapolis. Bangor has no scheduled service to any destination in Canada.

Since the Second Gulf War, Bangor has also been busy with transcontinental and transatlantic military charter flights making refueling stops. Once in Bangor, planes will often disembark military passengers, refuel, reload the troops, and take off to air bases elsewhere in the U.S. or overseas.

The airport has undergone a significant evolution in domestic air service. Passenger counts went from 369,000 in 2001 to over 480,000 in 2005, ending 2005 with a 25% increase over the previous 5 years. A recent upgrading of airport marketing resources and strategies plays a major role in the current success.

Passenger traffic was down 4.7% in the first five months of the year 2007, and there was a 16.2% drop in May 2007. Delta Air Lines, the airport's largest carrier, experienced a 33% decline in passengers in May. [1]

In June 2006, the airport introduced nonstop Delta service to Atlanta. Atlanta is the third new destination added since 2003. In November 2007, the airport celebrated the inaugural flight of its new low cost carrier Allegiant Air.

In April 2008 the airport received a $2.9m grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to upgrade the terminal building and also aviation equipment. The project is due to start in June 2008 and be completed by December 2008. The construction will add a second story to the area around gate 1 and give the terminal two levels. There will also be new passenger toilet facilities beyond the security checkpoint. [2]

There have been no fatal accidents associated with commercial service at the airport since it was organized as a municipal corporation in 1969.

Airlines and destinations

Airlines Destinations
Allegiant Air Orlando-Sanford, St.Petersburg/Clearwater (PIE)
Delta Connection operated by Comair Boston [seasonal], New York-JFK
Delta Connection operated by Pinnacle Airlines Detroit
Delta Connection operated by Mesaba Airlines Minneapolis/St. Paul [seasonal Saturday service]
US Airways Express operated by Air Wisconsin New York-LaGuardia [seasonal], Philadelphia, Washington-Reagan [seasonal]
US Airways Express operated by Chautauqua Airlines New York-LaGuardia [seasonal]
US Airways Express operated by Republic Airlines Philadelphia [seasonal]
US Airways Express operated by Piedmont Airlines New York-LaGuardia [ends January 3]

Military operations

Bangor is often the first or last stop on U.S. soil for troops headed to or from Iraq or other overseas destinations.

Ground transportation

Bangor International Airport is located off I-95. The airport is served by local taxi and limousine services as well as various rental car companies. The BAT Community Connector provides bus service between the airport and the surrounding region.

In fiction

Bangor International Airport was the main ground setting for Stephen King's novella The Langoliers, which was made into a two-part television miniseries. The miniseries was filmed on location at Bangor International Airport.

See also


  1. ^ Bangor Daily News, Jan. 30-31, 1971, p. 105
  2. ^ USA Today, May 19, 2005
  3. ^ Time, November 7, 1977; New York Times, July 15, 1984; Washington Post, October 17, 2004
  4. ^ Time, October 8, 1995
  5. ^ Goo, Sara Kehaulani (September 22, 2004). "Cat Stevens Held After D.C. Flight Diverted". Washington Post. p. A10. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "Islam was questioned in Bangor, Maine, by Customs and Border Protection agents."  
  6. ^ Time, June 14, 1996
  7. ^,+Travel,+Hospitality/Airlines/Continental+Airlines/

External links

BIA Terminal, hotel, and support buildings from far side of field

Simple English

Bangor International Airport (IATA: BGRICAO: KBGR) is a public use passenger airport located 3 miles (5 km) west in the city of Bangor, in Penobscot County, Maine, United States. It is owned and operated by the City of Bangor. It used to be a military base called Dow Air Force Base. The airport has a single runway that is 11,439 ft (3486 m) long and 200 ft (60 m) wide.

The airport is used a lot because it's near the Great Circle Route, a major air route between Europe and the East Coast of the United States. The 'international' in the airport's name doesn't refer to it being close to Canada (to which it has no regular flights), but its role in travel across the Atlantic Ocean.[1]

Bangor International Airport has passenger service on three airlines, Delta Airlines, Allegiant Air, and US Airways.



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