Shortly after John and Michelle let us know that our new niece arrived, wheels began turning in Nashville to determine the best time and method of going to see her. Lydia has said that Reganne is worth driving to Texas for... but she draws the line at actually doing so! Ten hours in the car isn't fun, even with audio books. So when Lydia and I booked this weekend's trip at the aforementioned site59.com, we quickly realized that neither of us had had any experience with the Huntsville International Airport and Auto Body Shop. We had all kinds of preconceived notions about what this little northern Alabama airstrip would be like, but we bought our tickets from there because it worked out to be about $150 cheaper than flying from Nashville. It turns out that our assumptions were flat out wrong. We like it... and for several reasons.
Our theory is that this is the airport that NASA built. For those of you who aren't aware, there's a lot of history between Alabama and the space program. Post World War II, Huntsville was home to the famed Wernher Von Braun and the Army's Redstone Arsenal, around since 1941, but best known for developing missiles and rockets (hence Von Braun's presence) and was a training ground for American Astronauts. Even today, there's still a lot of army and NASA traffic through Huntsville, so we think that the airport grew to meet that need. Plus, Space Camp is there... and they have to be able to fly kids in from all over the country.
The current facility was built in 1968 and the terminal added on in 1990. It has 12 gates - ten of which can accomodate full size jets. Two uber-cool features: a business center/lounge (pictured at left) that has no restrictions... it's not an Admirals Club or Crown Club... so anyone can use it, and free Wi-Fi internet access throughout the terminal. However, it's not just a passenger airport. Lots of their traffic is for the Intermodal Depot on the opposite side of the runway from the passenger terminal which connects air cargo with rail and highway transportation. It's pretty enormous. You can see the crane from the passenger terminal.
All that to say, our trip through HSV exceeded our expectations by a long shot. Even the 120 minute drive from our house to the parking lot was enjoyable... and won't ever be a high-traffic route. The only thing that would be nice would be cheaper parking (hey... how about a discount for people who come from out of state???) I guess we'd have to agree that it's more than just an airport.