Commission: Keep airport’s name

Linda Halford, the daughter of former Albany Mayor W.F. McAfee, speaks to the Albany Dougherty Aviation Commission Monday. The board unanimously reaffirmed the name of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport and the McAfee Terminal.

Linda Halford, the daughter of former Albany Mayor W.F. McAfee, speaks to the Albany Dougherty Aviation Commission Monday. The board unanimously reaffirmed the name of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport and the McAfee Terminal.

ALBANY — In an effort to “send a message” to the Albany City Commission, members of the Albany Dougherty Aviation Commission voted unanimously Monday to reaffirm the names of both the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport and the airport’s McAfee Terminal.

Last week, the City Commission discussed naming a city-owned property in honor of former city employee Johnnie Johnson, who in 1972 led a strike and later filed suit along with five others that forced local governments to pay whites and blacks equally and provide equal opportunities.

It was during that discussion that Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike said that Yaz Johnson’s preference of available city property to bear his father’s name would be the airport.

And while Albany Mayor Willie Adams questioned whether it was appropriate, the commission ultimately directed Ward VI Commissioner Tommie Postell — the elected representative of the ward in which the airport is located — to talk to Johnson about the matter.

Under city naming policy, the commissioner from the ward in which the building to be named is located can bring the motion before the commission.

During Monday’s Aviation Commission meeting, Commissioner Charles Gillespie offered a motion that the body reaffirm, for the purposes of clarity and for official business connections, that the name of the airport remain the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport and the terminal remain the McAfee Terminal.

Commissioners Eugene Jeter and Sanford Hilsman questioned why this was coming up before the Aviation Commission when the City Commission had not taken any formal action.

“A lot of people were upset with the way the media presented it as something that may actually happen,” Aviation Commission member and Ward IV City Commissioner Roger Marietta said. “I think this would send a message to the commission as a recommendation from this body that the name not change.”

Hilsman said he felt as though the Aviation Commission was taking pre-emptive action on something that may end up being moot.

“I just don’t see why we should take action on it right now when (the City Commission) is still discussing it,” Hilsman said.

Following the vote, the board heard from Linda Halford, the daughter of W.F. McAfee, the former Albany mayor whose name is on the terminal.

McAfee died in office during his second term in office when his plane crashed in 1958, killing him and two others. Just prior to the flight, McAfee and the commission had secured an appropriation to make the airport a commercial air-travel hub.

“I don’t think it would be right to change the name,” Halford said. “And even changing Southwest Georgia Regional Airport would be inappropriate, I think, because it speaks to what this airport is, a rural regional airport.”

Before the City Commission tasked Postell with speaking to Yaz Johnson about the airport, Pike said that city staff had essentially identified three properties that could be named.

City leaders have repeatedly said they won’t name the Law Enforcement Center downtown for Johnson, leaving just the airport and the Albany Municipal Auditorium.


supersquawker 3 years, 9 months ago

Good, airport name remains the same. Infeasible, airport as an international port of entry. Please send me $5000. No travel costs were incurred.


whattheheck 3 years, 9 months ago

Well, something that makes sense for a change!


chinaberry25 3 years, 9 months ago

It would cost a good deal of money and time to change the name of an airport. There are other places that could be named after this man.


Jacob 3 years, 9 months ago

We should name a road after him. We can call it "Johnson Road." We can pick a road that leads somewhere really positive, like the U.S. Marine Corps Base.


Jack_Frost 3 years, 9 months ago

Personally, I think Yaz Johnson needs to get a life. While his father did file a lawsuit in an effort to combat discriminatory practices with the City, he also let loose the reverse discrimination that is now rampant throughout the city. As a result of that ruling, if a white holds a position, the next to hold it must be black. However, there is no such stipulation that it swing the other way.
I don't think Johnnie Johnson intended it to work that way, but that's just as much a part of his legacy as anything else. Yaz Johnson acts like his father was the sole champion for civil rights in this town, when all he did was file a lawsuit because he didn't get what he felt he deserved. I understand his desire to see his father remembered, but he's already shown how picky he can be regarding what form that should take. Take the fountain that was offered and get over it. That's more than a lot of good people who've worked for the city have ever gotten.


Cartman 3 years, 9 months ago

Don't misread the article. The Airport Commission made this decision as a RECOMMENDATION. The City Commission has yet to decide the issue. They might now just rename the airport out of spite. It will be interesting to watch. We all know the real issue regarding the quest to name something for Johnson. Its the elephant in the room.


bubbavet 3 years, 9 months ago



Eastside904 3 years, 9 months ago

He going after the big stuff..why not a street in the district he lived in if he wants to honor his father. Oakridge Drive between the river and Slappey Blvd would be a nice section of road to name in honor of his father.


ittybittyme 3 years, 9 months ago

I agree with Jack_Frost! Other people in Albany have done much more important work that Mr. Johnson. Get a life, Yaz!


ameek86 3 years, 9 months ago

The only reason the commission is even considering this ridiculous proposal is because they are afraid someone will accuse them of being racist if they don't listen to this nut.


mortimer 3 years, 9 months ago

Not the sewer Dept. A garbage truck.


richie 3 years, 9 months ago

I like the idea of naming Gordon Park after Mr. Johnson. We could call it the "Johnny Johnson Softball and Sports Complex". The city spent $3 million fixing it up and people come from all over SW Georgia to use it.


KaosinAlbany 3 years, 9 months ago

Roger or excuse me, Richie, I wouldn't stir the pot too much on this matter anymore if I were you.


opinion8d 3 years, 9 months ago

Since Johnny filed a lawsuit over his civil rights, we should name the concrete turtle in front of the courthouse the "Johnny Johnson Commemorative Turtle".


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