Friday, January 25, 2008

Italian Air Travelers Must Laugh at Us

I recently completed a copywriting project that included a brochure about Florence, Italy. The brochure said that some visitors choose to fly into other Italian cities and mentioned a few airports: Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport in Rome, Guglielmo Marconi Airport in Bologna, and Galileo Galilei Airport in Pisa. I was awestruck by these heavy hitters -- Da Vinci, a true "Renaissance man" of art and science; Marconi, the inventor of radio; and Galileo, one of the ten most famous scientists of all time. Just for kicks, I searched online for more Italian airports and found Venice (Marco Polo) and Genoa (Cristoforo Columbo).

Then I thought of the United States. Atlanta's airport, now the world's busiest, is named for two former Atlanta mayors (William B. Hartsfield and Maynard Jackson). Chicago's airport is named for a minor World War II hero (Butch O'Hare), while Boston's airport is named for a relatively obscure general (Edward Logan). Houston's airport is named for a forgettable president (George H.W. Bush), and Washington's airport is named for an overrated twit of a president (Ronald Reagan).

Italy's airports are named for enduring giants of history. Ours are named for politicians. I doubt that any of America's airport namesakes will be heralded in history books several hundred years from now (no matter how much other crap the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project gets named after the B-movie actor).

Note: One could argue for Wright Brothers Airport, but that's in Dayton, Ohio, hardly a major destination. Plus it's not even the biggest airport in Dayton (which is named for a former Ohio Governor).


Jennifer said...

I was just about to start a campaign to rename Midway "Enrico Fermi International Airport," when I realized that still kinda proves your point.

Fritz said...

There are two entire continents named after an Italian, also. And don't forget about the District of Columbia, the Columbia River and countless other landmarks named after Cristobal.

David Johnsen said...

I was specifically writing about airport names, but your comment reminded me that I forgot to mention that Florence's airport is named for Amerigo Vespucci.

Chris said...

Midway isn't that bad, after all, it's named for the 1893 Columbia Exposition. And didn't O'Hare do something with the formation of the Army Air Corps?

David Johnsen said...

Midway was named for the 1942 Battle of Midway in 1949, not because of its link to 59th Street/Midway Plaisance. Besides, hosting a World's Fair celebrating Columbus is a derivative honor at best, merely piggy-backing on Columbus' achievement.

Butch O'Hare was a Navy flier -- the Navy's first flying ace (earned by shooting down five or more planes) and the first Navy aviator to get the Medal of Honor. He was a hero, but not "one for the ages."