Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Little Diner at Orange County Airport

Back when John Wayne Airport was still Orange County Airport, the old Eddie Martin Terminal was also a place where people could go just to watch the planes take off and land. There was a diner inside the little terminal that offered people a view of the landing strip.

I remember as a kid in the 1970s I would take flights up to Seattle, and sit inside the terminal watching the planes. In those days, I wanted to become an airline pilot. We would walk out on the runway, and climb the stairs to a waiting AirCal Boeing 737.

I remember in the late 1980s, in last years of the terminal, my girlfriend (now my wife) went there one night just to do that, eat a little something and watch the planes.

The new Thomas F. Riley Terminal has eateries inside too, but because of heightened security, and costly parking fees, airports are no longer a place to marvel the airplanes anymore.

A couple of OCThen readers share their memories of eating inside the old Eddie Martin Terminal, and watching planes take off...

Mr Vintage said...

Does anyone else remember the little diner at Orange County airport back on the early 60s that had a lunch counter and booths? There were many model airplanes hanging from the ceiling and we used to go there just for lunch and to watch the planes. I also remember that there were stables down at the end of the runway where we would go and visit and feed carrots to the the horses in the stalls. Of course all of the area around the airport was mostly grassy rolling fields. It has certainly changed.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember the diner! When sitting at the booths you had the best view of the airplanes coming and going. And you walked right out to the planes to board. There were no tunnels to walk thru. Long Beach airport was similar until a few short years ago. Now John Wayne airport is fancy and hectic...but still way better than LAX. (Unless your plane is late and because of the sound curfew (10 or 11pm) you must land at LAX and your friend who is supposed to pick you up is waiting at John Wayne or the taxi you were going to hail to take you 10 minutes to your home now will cost over $100 to deliver you from LAX to OC) Other than that, like the convenience of the new airport!


  1. OMG, Yes I remember the old Martin Airport. In the early 60's, my Dad had just gotten out of the Marine Corp (yes from El Toro)and was working as a private pilot for a businessman. We use to go there to pick him up and I remember the little playground at the north end of the field. We would go into the 'cafeteria' and watch the planes take off. I also went to a school named after the aviator Glen L Marin in Santa Ana. What a great time it was. Too bad we didn't realize it.

  2. I sure do remember the airport in the 70's my friends and I would all get stoned and go watch the planes take off all night. The same one would keep going going and going........I am now completely normal and a grandparent of 15. I sometimes wonder how I made it?????

  3. My dad took me to the airport to watch the private planes in the late '60s and early '70s. We'd eat at the little restaurant. I was always fascinated by the wooden propeller mounted on the wall. Those were the days when air travel was simple.

  4. In 1967 I was in second grade at Thomas Paine Elementary on Ward St., Garden Grove and we went on a field trip to Orange County Airport. Mom had loaned me the Brownie and I took a bunch of pics. Pretty exciting for me at age 7.

    Dave Angel

  5. In early September 2001 I took my then three-yaar-old boy to John Wayne Airport and we freely walked around the airport, rode elevators and escalators, and saw the planes from the gates. Then you know what happened on September 11, 2001.....

  6. Was this restaurant called Delaney's?

    1. Yep...Delaney's. The old Delaney had a number of stores, Newport Beach (Lido - across from the Cannery) and Garden Grove on Valley View just north of 22/405, to name a couple.

      Divorce took its toll and the old dude lost it all.

      He and his family tried to make a comeback last year (2011) at a small store in Lido Village. Just like all the restaurants in Lido Village (Warehouse, Magic Door and Georgio's Camelot, to name a few), it but the dust after a few months.

      The restaurant biz is a death wish...with the exception of very, very few.


Custom Search