SWANTON, Ohio — A new era took flight at the Toledo area's largest airport this weekend. Airplanes will now take off or land at Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport in Swanton.
The legendary Toledoan and Central Catholic graduate, Eugene F. Kranz, officially became a permanent fixture in his hometown at a renaming ceremony on Saturday.
The former NASA flight director, who played a major role in some of the space agency's most important programs and missions, says he's been reflecting on his accomplishments over the last few years, all of them leading up to this.
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"I've been going through a time frame where you spend a lot of time looking at the past. And these are the things I flew, the things I did, but more importantly the people I worked with," said Kranz.
It started in Toledo, he says. And never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined his hometown airport be named after him.
But he was never alone and says the honor of having his name attached to the airport is due, in part, to the people who pushed him and worked alongside him over the years.
"From the standpoint today, it's recognition of the work my teams have done in the early space programs," said Kranz. "Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skyline, but even today in keeping the International Space Station going".
Kranz has been recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian award.
He's also received four Presidential Ranking awards, the highest recognition a U.S. Civil Service employee can receive.
And although the Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport signifies his accomplishments, it's not just about him. He wants it to inspire future generations to soar.
"I think there's messages that the name in the airport will have that is going to last well after I'm gone. That's really the legacy I want to leave. Leave a belief in the future," said Kranz.
For him, that future starts right here with this airport, the youth, and the city's continued growth.