No name change for Albany's airport

McAfee terminal controversy sparks after mention of possible name change. / Jessica Fairley

The family of civil rights hero Rev. Johnnie Johnson Jr. has petitioned the city of Albany for a landmark to be named in his honor. This where the idea of changing the name of Albany's airport came into the picture and caused tension.

The McAfee family, whose name is already associated with the terminal, believes it should stay the same.

Many people who check into the terminal may not know the history behind the McAfee name, but the family of Albany's two term Mayor William McAfee says his legacy is still alive.

"His connection to the airport means a lot. People may not know that because this was 50 years ago," said Linda Halford, the only living child of William McAfee.

While in office McAfee helped appropriate funds for the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport terminal, but in 1958 before he could see the vision come to life, he died in a plane crash during his second term in office.

"Because he was mayor and served Albany they decided to give the honor to him," said Linda Halford.

The family rallied together after hearing of a possible name change to honor civil rights icon Johnnie Johnson.

"I don't think the city commission was ever thinking about changing the name," said Albany Ward 4 Commissioner Roger Marietta.

This is because of several reasons.

For one, if the city tried to change the name of the airport, it would create a problem across the globe because every map would have to be changed.

"That recently happened with the Hartsville Jackson Airport and when they changed with that hyphenated name it took five to ten years to straighten it all out," said Commissioner Roger Marietta.

The McAfee family says Johnson is a hero in his own right but their connection to the airport is why the name should not be changed.

Albany aviation commissioners agreed, making a formal recommendation to uphold the McAfee legacy.

Albany's city manager attended the meeting and stated that Albany Mayor Dr. Willie Adams also agrees that there will be no name change for the airport.