National Geographic : 1960 May
guard. The moving has just begun. It will continue for years, keeping pace with the builders, new departments moving as accom modations are readied for them. I have found that airports are pretty much alike in every country. People such as foreign correspondents, whose profession makes of them constant travelers, complain of their mo notony and sameness. Settlers Met at the Airport Not so the airport of Brasilia. In the early days it had a mood and pace all its own. In good part this was the doing of the "Associa tion of Airport Habitues," as they liked to call themselves. Many of Brasilia's oldest settlers showed up at the airport at least once a day. The bustling, shedlike structure was a clearing house for local news and choice bits of gossip. It was also the center of communication with the outside world, for mail, telegraph, and long-distance telephone services were just be ginning to work. Many a pilot and passenger of the frequent daily flights that connect Bra silia with Rio and Sao Paulo doubled as cour 710 ier. Everything from birthday presents to blueprints has traveled via the courier route. Once, when a meat shortage emptied Rio's butcher shops, passengers carried back steaks from Brasilia's plentiful supply. Built in nine months, the airport was the first indispensable step toward bringing the city into being. Even the runway asphalt had to be flown in. When the airport opened on April 2, 1957, with a mile-and-a-half runway for jetliners, it put the yet unborn capital only a couple of hours away from Rio and Sao Paulo. While the staggering job of com pleting road and rail links with the rest of the country goes on, the airport still remains a vital tie. Flying to Brasilia from Rio or Sao Paulo is almost like boarding a local bus. Many passengers make no reservations, but simply go to the airport and hop on the first plane with an available seat. When I first visited Brasilia, almost every incoming passenger was connected with the building of the city. But in recent months representatives of private enterprise have grown into a sizable contingent.