Wilmington International Airport
Wilmington International Airport, or ILM, is a public airport in unincorporated Wrightsboro, Cape Fear Township, New Hanover County, North Carolina. The airport is owned by New Hanover County and run by the Wilmington Airport Authority. The airport terminal has eight gates. In 2018, ILM served 934,058 passengers. The airport covers 1,800 acres, and there are two runways: 6/24, which is 8,016 feet (asphalt); and 17/35, which is 7,754 feet (asphalt).
ILM originated on May 30th, 1928. It was named Blumenthal Field in honor of Arthur Blumenthal, a decorated pilot, former All-American football player, and the first North Carolinian to die in WWI. In WWII, ILM was used by the U.S. Army Forces Third Air Force for training (using the P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft) and antisubmarine patrols. During this time, three new 7,000-foot runways were built. After the war, the airport was given back to New Hanover County. The airport was renamed New Hanover County Airport in the 50s. In 1988, it was again renamed New Hanover County International Airport, and in 1997 the name was changed to Wilmington International Airport. Airline service to ILM began in 1948 through Piedmont Airlines, and they were the only scheduled carrier at ILM in 1975. In 1989, the company was acquired by USAir (renamed U.S. Airways in 1997 and merged with American Airlines in 2013). Over the years, U.S. Airways expanded its service to more destinations.
The airport is located just north of Wilmington.
- ILM was one of four airports along the east coast that served as emergency landing sites for the Space Shuttle after improvements in the orbiter's braking system allowed for the use of 7,500-foot runways.
- ILM has been used for touch-and-go training flights by United States Air Force VIP aircraft, including the Boeing VC-25 (Air Force One), C-32, and C-40.
- The airport's position between Miami and New York City on the east coast makes it a desirable and less busy entry point to the U.S. The addition of a 24-hour U.S. Customs ramp in 2008 has enabled this, and a separate terminal was built to serve international flights (both charter and private).
- ILM has several permanent public art installations meant to capture the spirit of the Cape Fear Region.
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