One of the cool things about my job lately has been getting to visit some interesting places I’ve never been to before. I’m not as crazy as Paul and Dana, the brainchildren behind the North American Tech Tour. They’re traveling around the country in an Airstream. I prefer airplanes and hotels. But, we’ve all ended up in some pretty cool places.
During a recent visit to Lubbock, we had the opportunity to take a quick tour of the area. I landed at Lubbock Airport (LBB), a new dot and line for me on my map. The terminal is a decent size. There are 9 gates, of which just over half appear to be used on a daily basis.
We were driving around with folks from the economic development association talking about ways to bring businesses to Lubbock. I asked if they happened to know the length of the runway. Runway length might be a benefit/impediment for some companies thinking about relocating to an area. I had seen a FedEx plane on the tarmac that was a decent size. Not huge, but probably a little bigger than I would have expected given the size of Lubbock (turns out this is a hub for FedEx to feed smaller cities in the area).
I was surprised when one of the folks with us told me the longest runway was 11,500 feet! Sure enough, Wikipedia suggests the same thing. That’s a heck of a big runway for a small city. To put it in perspective, that’s a longer runway than big city airports like Newark, Charlotte, Kansas City, Phoenix and Laguardia (probably unfair to include Laguardia given the constraints there).
It’s roughly the same length as the longest runway at my home airport of Washington-Dulles and just a few hundred feet short of the longest runway at the behemoth LAX Airport. For frame of reference, 11,500 feet is generally sufficient to handle a 747 jumbo jet, with some variability for weight and altitude, etc.
The Final Two Pennies
I couldn’t find a specific answer to why a runway that long ended up in a smallish city of ~200,000 people. I’m guessing it may have something to do with the Air Force training facility built back in the 1940s. At any rate, that’s my AvGeek trivia of the day.
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