05:28 AM

DFW International Airport Announces September 17 Grand Reopening of Founders Plaza - With Parade and All American Cookout

Olympic gold medalist Carly Patterson to headline celebration entertainment; Airport seeks best stories, photos of Plaza memories

DFW International Airport, Texas (August 27, 2008) – DFW International Airport announced today that its Founders Plaza observation area will reopen with a public celebration on September 17 at 10 a.m. A community favorite and Airport landmark, Founders Plaza will offer tourists, school groups, families and aviation enthusiasts a larger site and more interactive experience to learn about the scientific wonder of flight.

The public celebration - which coincides with the 35th anniversary of the dedication of DFW - will feature a parade and singing performance by Olympic gold medalist Carly Patterson. The Airport is asking visitors and longtime fans of Founders Plaza to send in their best memories and photographs to be posted on dfwairport.com/founders as DFW makes finishing touches at the new park. 

"We are very pleased to reopen Founders Plaza to the thousands of local citizens and tourists from around the world who make a visit to DFW to learn more about aviation and how our Airport powers the North Texas economy," said Jeff Fegan, CEO of DFW. "Founders Plaza is a community treasure and a place where we are proud to host the public. We hope it serves as an inspiration and fuels the imagination of all who want to understand aviation and history of flight in North Texas and continue the legacy." 

The new Founders Plaza will overlook the northwest quadrant of the airfield from its elevated location at the south side of Texan Trail and North Airfield Drive just south of Highway 114 in Grapevine. More than double the size of its former site, the new Founders Plaza will feature more parking, shaded pavilions and around-the-clock security. 

The new site’s observation area has phenomenal views of the airport and a sound system so visitors can hear the airport’s air traffic controllers direct the more than 1,900 daily flights arriving and departing DFW. It will also be home to the popular "Share the Dream" statue that was dedicated at the former site in 1999. And the Airport's historic light beacon will serve as the centerpiece and focal point of the new location. 

Founders Plaza opened in 1995 as a tribute to the founders of DFW, whose vision was to create not only a world-class airport, but also a major economic engine for the entire North Texas region. Founders Plaza was relocated so DFW could proceed with its innovative perimeter taxiway construction, aimed at cutting aircraft taxi time to terminals and increasing safety. 

"Founders Plaza is the premier aviation viewing area in North Texas and considered one of the best in the world," said Jan Collmer, former Chair of the DFW International Board of Directors and a renowned aerobatic pilot. "It is truly a place that aviation, education and technology come together for the young people of our region and indeed visitors from around the globe. And its new location will allow even easier access to tourists who come to North Texas and want to do something fun and free with the family." 

The previous Plaza site on the Airport's southeast side played a key role in DFW history, including an employee memorial on September 12, 2001 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It also hosted the Airport’s 30th anniversary celebration in 2004. 

Over the years, Founders Plaza has also earned a soft spot in the hearts of North Texans as well as made multiple "Best Of" lists compiled by community media. The Fort Worth Weekly voted Founders Plaza "Best Place to Watch a Sunset" in 2004. The Dallas Observer voted Founders Plaza Best of 2003 "Best Free Kids Outing." And the former location was even recognized as "Best Place to Make Out" in 2000 by the Dallas / Arlington Morning News. 

The re-dedication event will feature a musical performance by Carly Patterson, winner of the 2004 Olympic all-around gold medal in gymnastics, from Allen, Texas. 

Founders Plaza is located at 1700 N. Airfield Drive - at the intersection of North Airfield Drive and Texan Trail, near the northern end of runway 36R/18L. www.dfwairport.com/visitor/pdf/map-to-founders-plaza.pdf

Founders Plaza - By The Numbers

3 - Shaded pavilions

4 - Panoramic view finders

6 - Acres of park land - double the previous site

6 - Picnic areas

24 - Hours of round-the-clock security

30 - Parking spaces

278,372 - Approximate number of aircraft to takeoff or land over in a single year near the site