Pilot recalls American Airlines Flight 341, the first commercial flight at DFW Airport
It was a historic day for North Texas, marking the official opening of the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, but for Bob Barrett, Jan. 13, 1974, was just another work day.
He was a co-pilot on American Airlines Flight 341, the first commercial flight to land at the new airport. The flight traveled from New York to Dallas, via Memphis and Little Rock.
“I really didn’t think too much of it at the time,” said Barrett, 50 years later. “My boss just called me one day and said you’re flying that first flight in.”
Barrett replied, “Thank you very much.”
“The captain and I just flew on an airport over to Little Rock and picked up the flight over into Dallas-Fort Worth,” he said.
He recounted the day to former Star-Telegram aviation reporter Dan Reed years earlier in 1994 when the airport turned 20, sharing a story about his sons’ reaction to the day’s events. His wife had taken their two sons to the new airport to watch the landing, Barrett said at the time.
The next morning, Barrett’s youngest son Joe sat down next to him, very serious.
“Dad, Mom took us to the airport last night and told us you were bringing in the first flight and that we should be proud of you. But I wasn’t,” the boy said.
His son went on to ask, “What were we supposed to be proud of?”
“I guess all he saw was an airplane come in to the airport. To him one landing was pretty much like another. He really put things in perspective for me.”
Barrett, who lives in Euless, said his career with American Airlines spanned 30 years before he retired in 1993. The region has seen major growth in the past several decades, much of which has been driven by the airport.
“Well obviously it’s been good for the community, provided a lot of jobs and convenience for people that didn’t exist before,” Barrett told the Star-Telegram Wednesday.