COLUMBUS, Ohio – Astronaut John Glenn is getting an airport named in his honour in his home state of Ohio.
In a gesture of bipartisan co-operation, the Republican-dominated Ohio House and Senate voted Wednesday to support a bill adding the 94-year-old Democrat’s name to Port Columbus International Airport. The facility’s new name will be John Glenn Columbus International Airport. The bill now heads to Republican Gov. John Kasich.
Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth in 1962, and was a member of NASA’s storied Mercury Seven crew that led the U.S. into space. With Scott Carpenter’s death in 2013, he became the crew’s last surviving member.
Raised in New Concord, Ohio, Glenn flew 59 combat missions during World War II and 63 ground support missions during the Korean War. As a test pilot, he flew the first supersonic transcontinental flight in 1957, setting a speed record of 3 hours and 23 minutes between Los Angeles and New York.
He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974, serving until 1999. Glenn returned to space in 1998, at age 77.
GOP House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, who helped spearhead the renaming effort, said during Wednesday’s session that he felt renaming Columbus’ airport for Glenn is appropriate, given his contributions to Ohio and U.S. aviation and military history.
Airport spokeswoman Angie Tabor said the facility is “fully supportive.” Tabor said the airport’s nine-member board voted unanimously in favour of the change Tuesday. It’s also supported by Columbus’ mayor.
Tabor said a plan for transitioning to the new name for the airport, which has 7 million passengers a year, should be in place within the next couple of months. It will lay out the timeline for updating signage, among other things.
In an email, Glenn’s executive assistant at Ohio State University’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs said Glenn never expected such an honour.
“He is truly grateful and appreciates being thought of in this way,” said Kathleen Dancey.
Earlier this year, the Ohio House passed a bill designating Feb. 17 as “Annie Glenn Communication Disorders Awareness Day,” a nod to Glenn’s wife, who has been a inspiration for struggling to overcome a stutter. Annie Glenn, 96, was inducted into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame last week. Her husband already was a member.