A farmer who dreamed of flying! It sounds like a children's book, but it's a real Bay Area success story. This is the airport that carries on his legacy.
Why do they call it Tampa Executive Airport?
On what's now the eastern edge of Tampa, the Vandenberghe family had a farm. But while they worked the soil, they looked to the sky.
The Vandenberghes loved to fly.
So in the 1950's they cleared away some of their crops and planted a grass airstrip on their land.
The Vandenberghe boys got good.
Family members taught flying lessons. Outside companies started moving in as tenants. This private playground was becoming a full-fledged airport.
Pilots were stumbling over the airport's long name, so the Vandenberghe family decided to drop the silent "he" at the end of the airport's name and call it simply Vandenberg Airport.
Vandenberg was busy, but small, when Tampa's airport authority took it over in 1980's.
But if you look up "Vandenberg" online -- wow!
Secret space plane landings!
Nuclear missile testing!
Wait, wait, wait -- you're finding links toVandenberg Air Force Base in California.
It's a massive military facility that was once even an alternate Space Shuttle launch site. On the other hand, the airport in Florida is designed for business jets and private planes with propellers.
Two airfields with the same name. Confusing, huh? Not any more.
But that historic name is not gone for good. There's a plan in place to dedicate the airport's terminal building in honor of George Vandenberghe, the airport's founding farmer.
Why do they call it that? Now you know.
Something similar also happened on the other side of town in what's now the Westshore Business District.
We feature new "Why do they call it that?" stories each Wednesday on 10 News starting at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Check out previous editions of the Emmy-nominated series at our "Why do they call it that?" website: wtsp.com/callitthat.