Passing Through Airport Obscurity


Convivium, 29 July 2019

During his summer travels, Father Raymond de Souza finds his way to San Jose where the airport honours a little-known politician with a story that deserves to be told.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – Summertime is a time for travels, for being on the road, or more accurately, in the air.

Airport names matter to me. In that regard I am happier flying out of Kingston – Norman Rogers airport, named after a distinguished Queen’s University man and minister of war under Mackenzie King – than I am either Toronto (Lester Pearson) or Montreal (Pierre Trudeau). Ottawa gets it right: Macdonald-Cartier.

No country can compete with Poland, as Convivium readers in 2013 might remember what I wrote then:

Poland has a rather more culturally edifying attitude toward its airports. You fly from the political capital, Warsaw, where the airport is named after Fryderyk Chopin, to the royal and religious capital, Krakow, where the airport is named for Pope John Paul II. Very edifying. Or one can travel from Copernicus airport (Wroclaw) to Lech Walesa (Gdansk). A pianist, a saint, a scientist and a champion of freedom. Most edifying. 

Here on the left coast, California offers a rather different account of human achievement, with Bob Hope airport (Burbank), John Wayne (Orange County) and Charles M. Schultz (Sonoma County). But flying into San Jose, I was underwhelmed by Norman Y. Mineta Airport. Another political functionary, I thought. No, it turns out.

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