In the late 1920s, a concerted effort was mounted to establish a proper municipal airport for the Los Angeles area. Seven sites were under consideration. The favored ones were Dominguez Field, where the first American air meet was held in 1910; Griffith Park, which had been functioning since 1925 as a National Guard base; and a tract of farmland west of Inglewood and north of El Segundo called Mines Field (which later became Los Angeles International Airport).

Sensing a good opportunity, Captain Charles C. Spicer, a World War I fighter pilot, formed a syndicate of venture capitalists in 1928, to purchase and develop the Glendale Municipal Airport. Following the purchase, the airport was expanded to the north and west, and eventually consisted of 175 acres. The main runway, aligned with the prevailing northwest-southwest winds, consisted of 3,800 feet of concrete 100 feet wide. Additional facilities included a 2,500-foot taxiway/cross-runway. Aviation publicist/promoter Victor Clark suggested naming the proposed building and airport facilities "Grand Central Air Terminal." The syndicate voted unanimous approval. An aviation country club recreational complex to be located at the southwest end was also proposed.

The Air Terminal officially opened on February 22, 1929. The opening ceremonies attracted over 200 celebrities including Wallace Beery, Gary Cooper, and Jean Harlow and 12,000 other spectators. Soon after the terminal was opened, the Curtiss-Keys Group, which controlled several companies including the Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company, formed the Curtiss Airport Corporation. From its inception, this corporation quickly began purchasing (largely through the exchange of stock) airports serving Baltimore, New York, Chicago,Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Cleveland and San Francisco. In May, three months after the Grand Central Air Terminal's grand opening, the Spicer group sold out to the Curtiss Airport Corporation. Capt. Spicer went on to become a Curtiss director, as did several of his associates. In June of that year, Curtiss merged with the Wright Company to become the Curtiss-Wright Flying Service. Because of this merger, the Grand Central Air Terminal airport became the property of the newly formed Curtiss-Wright Flying Service. Major Corliss C. Moseley, a World War I fighter pilot and co-founder of Western Air Express (later called Western Airlines), was selected to manage the airport for the Curtiss-Wright Flying Service.

The Grand Central Air Terminal became the first airport to offer air service between southern California and New York. The first airline to provide this service was Transcontinental Air Transport, which was affiliated with Charles Lindbergh and in 1929 merged with Jack Maddux to become TAT-Maddux. The first regularly scheduled transcontinental flight from Glendale took place on July 28, 1929. The first leg of the 48-hour flight was piloted by Lindbergh and its passengers included Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. The airport soon came to be utilized by a number of major airlines, including Pickwick Airways which joined TAT-Maddux in offering daily service to San Francisco and San Diego. At that time, the Grand Central Air Terminal quickly became the primary airport in southern California to provide scheduled commercial service to the public.

Through various mergers, Trans World Airlines (TWA), originally called Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc., began operations and provided service to Glendale from all other major airports nationwide. However, it was on a flight bound for Glendale that TWA's worst accident in the early part of the twentieth century occurred. On a flight en route from Kansas City to Glendale, on March 31, 1931, the last F10A ever built crashed in Bazaar, Kansas. The two pilots and six passengers including football player Knute Rockne of Notre Dame were killed.

The Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute was founded in 1931 as an aviation trades school and occupied a corner of the Air Terminal building. It gradually expanded, occupying portions of the aircraft hangars at the airport and various industrial buildings along Air Way. Directed by Major Moseley, the Institute was a school for aircraft technicians, mechanics, and engineers. It did not have a flight-training program. Flight instruction was available from the Curtiss-Wright Flying Service as an adjunct to courses offered by the Institute.

In 1934, Major Moseley leased the entire airport from Curtiss-Wright; he and his associates formed Aircraft Industries, Inc. This company was an authorized service (aircraft repair and engine overhaul), sales and distributor agent for several aircraft manufacturers. By early 1944, the Grand Central Air Terminal ceased operating as a commercial airport terminal. The Grand Central Air Terminal was purchased outright by Moseley, and at this time, the title "Air Terminal" was dropped in favor of the term "Airport." Also at this time, Aircraft Industries, Inc., became the Grand Central Airport Company (later reorganized in 1950 as the Grand Central Aircraft Company). Its two principal divisions continued to be airplane repair and engine overhaul. Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute, having completed the training of the last class of mechanics, became the Cal-Aero Technical Institute.

When the surprise attack by Imperial Japanese forces on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor catapulted the United States into World War II, the Grand Central Air Terminal quickly became an armed camp. The airport was effectively camouflaged from enemy attack and from the air it appeared to be a housing tract complete with faux streets. The Grand Central Air Terminal was designated the headquarters for the 318th Fighter Wing which had the responsibility for the operational training of P-38 replacement pilots. The P-38s were large planes and, therefore, required additional runway space. The Grand Central Air Terminal's runway, considered short at 3,800 feet, was lengthened in 1942 by closing off Sonora Street to traffic and paving a narrow strip to Western Avenue. This provided an additional 1,200 feet of runway. Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute, with three flight academies (Ontario, Oxnard, and the Antelope Valley), played a key role in the training of approximately 26,000 World War II combat pilots and 7,500 mechanics.

The runway extension between Sonora and Western was closed in 1947 by municipal decree. The loss of 1,200 feet of runway made the airport a Class II facility, sufficient only for small planes (DC-4s and C-54s) coming in for overhaul and repair. Cal-Aero Technical Institute, having resumed the training of Air Force mechanics in October 1950, received additional contracts which extended the program nearly two years. Altogether, 1,200 Air Force men were trained at Glendale, the last of which were graduated in August 1952. By that time, the Air Force establishment could handle the quotas in-house without civilian assistance. Thereafter, Cal-Aero's fortunes declined steadily. In the next couple of years the student body fell from a high of 1,500 to a low of less than 200. The school lost money for three years and closed its doors at the end of the 1954 term. And although Grand Central Aircraft was still the City's largest employer at this time, escalating taxes, declining business, and pressure to close the airport and convert the property into a large industrial area resulted in the closure of the Grand Central Aircraft Company in 1959.

From the mid-1950s, the Grand Central Airport's runway and facilities had not been maintained and the unpaved parallel strip was riddled with gopher holes. There was an attempt to save a portion of the airport to accommodate the local general aviation community when the Glendale City Council was petitioned to make it a municipal airport. However, the petition was not passed and the airport was officially closed on July 15, 1959. With the demise of the airport and aircraft industry, the area became a prime locale for light industry. Beginning as early as 1955, with the construction of four industrial type buildings, the area surrounding the Grand Central Air Terminal facility was gradually acquired and modified into the Grand Central Industrial Center (later changed to the Grand Central Business Centre), a 112-acre industrial community consisting primarily of industrial/ manufacturing and warehouse/distribution companies. Today, the Grand Central Business Centre continues to expand and develop with entertainment, high technology, and manufacturing industries.

     
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