The 80's - a Time of Change

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Terminal 4 Groundbreaking CeremonyWatch a video.

The aviation industry and the experience of flying have certainly changed over the years. As we celebrated Sky Harbor's 75th Anniversary in 2010, employees look back to some of the Airport's most memorable moments over the past 30 years.

The 1980's were a period of change in the world with not only technologically but politically and socially. We saw the beginnings of MTV and artists like Michael Jackson and Madonna on the forefront of the music industry, the rise in the popularity of video games and eventually, the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

In the aviation industry, there were also changes occurring, stemming from The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. This act meant that the government would no longer have control over air fares or where new airlines could fly. This would allow for new airlines and more competition in the industry. Former Aviation Director Neilson "Dutch" Bertholf who was director at Sky Harbor from 1982-1998 remembers this.

"When I came to Sky Harbor, I immediately noticed the growth that was taking place because the airline deregulation act. Things were just beginning to happen," Bertholf said.

Bertholf said that the biggest change that he saw during his time at Sky Harbor was the number of airlines that flew from here.

"When I first came, there were probably only seven or eight airlines," Bertholf said. "Now, the next thing I know, we are up to 15 or 16. We went out and got international air service with British Airways and several flights to Mexico; those are important milestones in the growth of the airport."

Current Assistant Aviation Director Carl Newman remembers this. Newman began his career at Sky Harbor in airport security and worked his way up through the organization. He said that when he started at Sky Harbor there was no Terminal 4, and Terminal 3 was under construction. The changes that have happened even just from the time that he has worked here have been phenomenal.

Randy Anderson who has also worked in the Aviation Department since the 1980's agrees.

"There has been constant growth at the airport," said Anderson, who has worked in a variety of positions at the airport from landside to airside operations. "Industry-wide there have been changes, though our growth and the opportunities that have come with it have been the biggest changes."

Indeed, Sky Cap Lewis Davis has witnessed first-hand the massive amount of change that has taken place at Sky Harbor over the years. Davis has been a Sky Cap at Sky Harbor for 48 years.

"I've seen a lot of changes since I've been here," Davis said. "Starting at Terminal 1 when there used to be the Sheraton Hotel on our grounds. I've seen different airlines come in and go like Cochise, Bonanza, and I've seen new buildings that came up – Terminals 3 and 4. My company, Complete Sky Cap has changed too. Today, they're hiring a lot of young people and keeping them off the street. Before, it was hard to get into the company and now, they are hiring more to replace us when the time comes."

By the late 1980's, it was apparent that the growth of Sky Harbor was not slowing down and an additional terminal was needed to effectively handle operations. In October 1989, Sky Harbor held a ground-breaking for Terminal 4, and by November 1990, the terminal was open.

First published: September 13, 2010

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