Tampa International Airport (originally Drew Airport) was opened to the public in 1928. Initially the it was overshadowed by its neighbor, Peter O. Knight airport, which was located on the waterfront. At that time experts believed that the future of aviation, the flying boat, would make Peter O.Knight a site of key importance. During World War II, however, Drew was preferred by the U.S. Army Air Force because it provided a greater amount of landing space. Once the war ended, it became Tampa's official airline aiport.
The airport presently occupies 3,300 acres. Its unique design (copied by airports all over the world) resembles a spoked wheel, with the large central Lanside Terminal at its center. It has two north/south runways, and one east/west runway. The terminal in use today was erected in 1971, and plans are under way for the construction of yet another terminal with the capacity to handle 40 million passengers annually. Last year's twenty-two percent increase in passenger flow turned Tampa into one of the fastest growing airports in the country. It has been voted best airport in America and among the top three in the world on numerous occasions by the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administratrion, the International Passengers Association and by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine.