Derry airport name change shot down

Published Wednesday, 28 March 2012
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A motion to have the City of Derry Airport renamed after aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart has been shot down.

Derry airport name change shot down
Amelia Earhart in front of her bi-plane in June 1928. (© Getty)

The proposal was put before Derry City Council by Sinn Féin, but the SDLP have joined unionists in voting against it.

Those in favour of the plan hoped Amelia would join the ranks of legendary footballer George Best and founding Beatles member John Lennon, who both also have airports named after them.

She famously became the first woman to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic in 1932, and she landed in a field in Derry.

Councillor Elisha McCallion explained why she put forward the motion: "She had intended to fly from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland to Paris, but - due to technical problems her 14-hour journey ended when she had to set the plane down on farm land at Ballyarnett."

Sinn Féin feel that such recognition for the pilot's legacy could boost local tourism - particularly given the City of Culture status for 2013.

Ms McCallion continued: "The story of Amelia Earhart's epic journey is known throughout the world and we felt that there was a need to recognise the significant visitor potential the Amelia Earhart legacy holds for the city and district.

"With an ever-changing tourism market, it's important that we are constantly coming up with new initiatives. I believe that changing the name of the airport can be one important component of that."

DUP MP Gregory Campbell agreed in principle, but said more discussions need to take place.

He said: "She's a great marketing tool and widely regarded in America as a lady well ahead of her time but that sort of thing should be discussed privately with the stakeholders and then put for consultation rather than bringing it in now which risks turning it into a political football."

In a city which is no stranger to disputes over name changes, UTV asked the public if they felt Amelia Earhart could be a boost to tourism - or if they even recognised her.

One woman said: "It's somebody famous to be associated with the city and it saves the old Derry/Londonderry argument."

A man who couldn't identify Amelia said: "I think it would be a good idea".

Another woman, when asked about the idea to re-name the airport after the aviator, responded: "I would agree, aye. But I would not know the lady at all."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
mick in derry wrote (998 days ago):
@John - derry 2013 UK capital of culture , belfast 2012 - uk capital of car jacking :, i dont have anything against belfast but before you go on about other towns/cities take a look at your own.
John in Belfast wrote (998 days ago):
It was idiotic to name Belfast City Airport after an alcoholic footballer. Someone of the stature of the great C.S. Lewis would have been more appropriate. As far as Derry is concerned, why not just name it 'Stroke City Airport?'
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