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History of Melbourne’s Essendon Airport

Thousands of international and domestic travellers have flown into and out of Melbourne’s airports. Unfortunately, these people have been so focused on their travels that they don’t get a chance to think about the history of the airports they are walking through and there is a lot of history!

Ace Airport Parking wants to share this valuable information with travellers from all over the world. After all, some of the airports located in or around Melbourne have such exciting and amazing history that just has to be shared.

We have decided to start with the history of Essendon Airport, a smaller volume airport located very close to Tullamarine Airport, it was the first Melbourne Airport.

Farmland Turned Airfield

The area known as Essendon Airport was originally very large farmland. This farmland was known as St. Johns.

In approximately 1919, the farmland was given over to an Aero Club. The Aero Club decided to turn the large farmland area into a designated space that could be used as an airfield. Once the airfield was completed, it was named St. Johns airfield after the original name of the farmland.

On 15th October 1933, Essendon Airport welcomed aviation pioneer Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith.  One of the largest crowds ever seen in Melbourne assembled at Essendon Airport to welcome aviation pioneer Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and in 1936, Ansett commenced operations to became a major domestic airline).

Used for National Defence

Prior to the outbreak of World War II, the government saw a need for a base camp for national defence. While there were many viable options for airfields that could be used, the one the country decided to use was St. Johns.

Australia decided to use St. Johns – which was renamed Essendon Aerodrome – as a base of operations. This was where the country’s defence department could store essential supplies, equipment, and aircraft.

The Essendon Aerodrome was used for some civil air travel during the time of the war, but due to the circumstances of the time, there wasn’t a huge demand for domestic or international flight.

The End of the War and a New Change to Essendon

After the war, Essendon Aerodrome was given the opportunity to flourish and expand. There was an increased demand for both domestic and international flights, and this smaller airport provided the perfect place for expansion.

On 1st February 1950, the airfield that was once used for national defence was no longer named Essendon Airport and was renamed Melbourne Airport. The airport continued to flourish and hundreds of thousands of international and domestic travellers walked the humble corridors of the airport as they flew in and out of the area.

Essendon Airport was Melbourne’s international airport until 1970. It was in that year a newer, larger airport was built and almost all international flights were moved to the new airport. Most domestic flights followed the move in the years following the change.

Over the years Essendon Airport saw such famous people as Louis Armstrong, Roy Orbison, The Beatles and Kylie Minogue filmed her first music video, ‘Locomotion’ at Essendon Airport.

Essendon Airport Today

Today, Essendon Airport is still in operation, but only for certain types of flights. It mostly serves regional  flights, private charters, tourist flights, emergency flights (including the Police Airwing and home to fire fighting aircraft like ‘Elvis’), and freight and private aircraft.

In 2001, a joint venture between Linfox Group and Beck Corporation saw the long-term lease to operate and develop Essendon Airport was acquired from the Federal Government. The privatisation has seen a revitalization of Essendon Airport through the development of a commercial hub in Essendon Fields.

Next time you are passing Essendon Airport, spare a thought for the fascinating history behind Essendon Airport.

Make your next trip from Essendon Airport a stress-free adventure by choosing to use the car parking facility provided by Ace Airport Parking. Use our safe, secure Melbourne airport parking facility and know that your car is in good hands. We have great deals on short and long term Melbourne airport car parking and our free shuttle buses can have you at Essendon or Melbourne airports within minutes.

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