John Wayne Airport History and Stats

Few American airports boast the vibrant  history of the John Wayne Airport, located in Santa Ana, California of Orange County.

  • Originally, the John Wayne Airport was a private landing strip that was architected by Eddie Martin, a pioneer of aviation school and Martin Aviation.
  • John Wayne Airport is also referred to as the Orange County Airport.

The John Wayne Airport serves as a commercial and private aviation hub for some 34 southern California cities (more than 3 million local residents).


  • During World War II, the Orange County Airport served as a military base.

The airport is comprised of two runways, one for commercial carriers and the other for private planes.

  • Meeting the demand of some 400,000 annual passengers, the Eddie Martin Terminal (22,000-square foot) was constructed in 1967.
  • The airport was also the byproduct of a land swap, in which the government gave land to the Irvine Company with the requirement that it always remain an aviation station.
  • It was in 1979 that the Orange County airport underwent a name change, commemorating the late actor, John Wayne.
  • In 1980, the addition of a new baggage claims eased passenger arrivals.
  • Another terminal annex took form in 1982, bringing the total space to 29,000-square feet.
  • Historically noted as the county’s most significant improvement project, construction upgrades involved the addition of the Thomas F. Riley Terminal, as well as a parking facility expansion.
  • Upon completion, of the 337,900-square foot complex, the Thomas F. Riley Terminal’s grand opening transpired on September 16, 1990.
  • Designed by Thompson Consultants International, Leason Pomeroy Associates, and Gensler and Associates, today, the John Wayne airport resembles an airplane fuselage.
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