VIDEO: Last passengers at old airport terminal
2 a.m. Wednesday — The last flight to arrive in the old terminal was a United Airlines flight from Chicago O’Hare that arrived around 12:30 a.m.
And the last passenger to step off a plane at the old terminal was Lance Bergman.
“I was actually the fourth or fifth off,” he said. “Once the last person got off, I jumped behind them and I was the last.”
Bergman and many members of his extended family arrived in Wichita together, as they have done for 47 years, said Jay Bergman.
Since he was a kid, Jay Bergman said he had come to Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport with family to visit his uncle.
“As a little kid, you don’t really think of much — you just remember the bricks, but over the years, it’s been a familiar sight, coming here knowing it’s to come visit family,” Jay Bergman said. “Getting off the plane and seeing the terminal, you know, it’s kind of nostalgic.”
This will be the last time the family, most of whom live in Los Angeles, visits Wichita, as Lance and Jay’s uncle died on Monday.
They were coming into town for his funeral, Lance Bergman said.
“He lived pretty much his whole life in Wichita,” Lance Bergman said. “I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid.”
The family posed for a photo in front of the statue that stands in the center of the entranceway, just as airport crews were pulling down the grate for one final time. No more passengers would walk through those gates to the concourse.
Deborah Ballard-Reisch, who was on the second-to-last flight to arrive at Mid-Continent — a United Airlines flight from Denver — said she is excited to fly in the new terminal.
“I think it will really up Wichita’s street cred,” she said. “The security equipment is already gone. Coming through it, it was real — this is it.”
Ballard-Reisch, who describes herself as a frequent flier, said she hopes the new airport has “better restrooms,” and that the TSA section is faster and more efficient than it was in the old building.
12 a.m. Wednesday — In the recesses of Wichita’s new Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport on Tuesday night, a team of three women kept the move running smoothly.
Deidra Cronk, Belinda Witt and Marcia Bright were operating the “command center” – the de facto place to call if things went wrong – in the new terminal overnight.
Fueled by coffee, water, Cheetos and candy, the three sat and waited for the phones to ring.
And they really didn’t – at least, not before 11 p.m.
“We really hope we are bored,” Bright said. “That’s a good thing.”
Crews at the airport have been gradually moving things to the new terminal for the past week, and from midnight to 4 a.m. Wednesday, the rest of the stuff was to be moved.
“It’s going to be an all-night-long rush for four or five feverish hours to get everything moved,” said Victor White, Wichita’s director of airports.
As of 9:30 p.m., everything was going “quite well,” he said.
Airline desk computers were being carted to the new terminal.
Agents for the Transportation Security Administration were wheeling equipment to the new terminal while surrounded by local media.
And Rachel Parker was busy baking 250 dozen doughnuts for the new terminal’s Dunkin Donuts location, which is set to open by 4 a.m. Wednesday.
The first batch of doughnuts to come out in the new terminal: a dozen of the “old-fashioned” variety.
Employees at the Dunkin Donuts location have been training at the franchise’s store on West Street for the past few weeks, so by now they’re doughnut professionals.
The overnight routine will become their new normal – the employees there work third-shift hours, Parker said.
For everyone else moving things into the airport, the overnight rush was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
“Everything is going as planned right now,” Pat McCollom said at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. McCollom is a representative with the Wichita Airport Authority. “We’ve just had a couple of calls, like where’s this, where’s that. We’re on target right now.”
By 11 p.m., the old terminal had mostly been gutted. The Air Capital Bar’s refrigerator was empty save for a lone bottle of Heinz ketchup that may or may not make the trek to the new terminal.
White said officials plan to close the old terminal to the public on Wednesday, and then some fixtures in the old terminal will be auctioned off.
“We have 1,000 chairs we need to get rid of,” White said. “A lot of people may want something just for history or memorabilia – the airline signs, the lighting fixtures.”
The last flight to leave from the old terminal was a U.S. Airways plane that had originally diverted to Wichita because of an onboard medical emergency, a terminal worker said. It departed at 9:39 p.m.