Buckle up, aviation enthusiasts and casual tourists. Today, we're taking a detour off the beaten path and touching down at one of DFW Airport's lesser-known gems - Founders Plaza.
A Blast from the Past
Before we dive into the present, let's taxi back to the runway of history. Founders Plaza was first established in 1995 as a testament to the founders of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). A special tribute is dedicated to the collective minds who brought their aviation dreams to fruition, transforming a modest airfield into the world's third busiest airport.
Relocated south to its present location, Grapevine in 2008, the Plaza is a confluence of history, education, and, believe it or not, fun. It serves as a grand, open-air museum that tells the tale of DFW's rise to prominence in the world of aviation.
You've Got Plane Mail
There's no denying it: Founders Plaza is a plane-spotter's paradise. A pair of high-powered binoculars mounted on-site, affectionately known as "Big Eyes", provides you with a front-row view of the aircraft arrivals and departures on the airport's north runways. Listen to live air traffic and control tower call broadcasts from the comfort of your viewing spot.
The sight of giant birds of steel soaring across the sky or touching down with surprising grace, leaves both kids and adults alike, slack-jawed in wonder. Here's a tip: pack a picnic and make a day of it. The view from the observation area is something you won't tire of easily.
In Memorian: Delta Flight 191
Buying a Brick: A Hefty Dose of Immortality
Got some extra cash and want to make your mark on the plaza community? Consider "buying a brick". For a modest fee, you can have your name or a message etched into a brick, which will then be embedded into the grounds of the plaza.
A fun way to leave your legacy or a perfect gift for the aviation fanatic in your life, your personalized brick will serve as a nod to your everlasting love for flight (or perhaps, your undying infatuation with bricks!).
The Monument: A Tribute to Dreamers
At the heart of Founders Plaza lies the Airline Monument, an imposing tribute that pays homage to the original airlines that served DFW Airport. These airline companies, immortalized in stone, remind park visitors of the power of dreams and the heights they can reach.
It's a photo-op worth waiting for, with the panorama of planes taking off and landing in the backdrop. So, don’t forget to snap that selfie and share photos of it on your socials. You're at the heart of aviation, after all.
The Radio Beacon at Founders Plaza
Now that you're all up to speed on the Founders Plaza basics, let's delve deeper into one of its unique highlights, the radio beacon.
The beacon at Founders Plaza is more than a shining light; it's a nod to the early days of air navigation. Long before the advent of today's sophisticated GPS navigation systems, pilots would rely on these rotating light sources, stationed at fixed locations, to guide their path across the night sky.
In a delightful twist of irony, this piece of vintage aviation technology sits comfortably in the Plaza, a silent spectator to watch the continuous stream of modern-day jetliners.
Directions: Navigating to Founders Plaza
Now, if you’re sold on the idea and wondering, "How do I get there?", here's a quick rundown. Founders Plaza is conveniently located at 1700 N Airfield Drive. It's about a 10-minute drive from the terminals center. Free parking is available, but sorry folks, no overnight stays.
You can also reach the plaza using the DFW Airport Shuttle from Terminal A, although private transportation is more direct. Remember, the plaza operates from dawn till dusk, so plan your visit accordingly.
The Perfect Pitstop: Founders Plaza as a Waiting Area
For those who find themselves with time on their hands waiting for a flight or a passenger to arrive, Founders Plaza offers a refreshing change from the usual airport waiting areas.
Instead of idling away time inside a terminal, surrounded by the humdrum of airport life, step outside into the fresh air. With picnic tables and telescopes at your disposal, you'll be hard-pressed to find a more entertaining way to sit and bide your time.
Founders Plaza offers more than meets the eye. It’s a piece of history, a plane-spotter’s dream, a family picnic destination, and a nice place for a tranquil escape from the hectic pace of travel.
Next time you find yourself at DFW Airport, be sure to carve out a few hours for this charming slice of aviation wonder.