Airport Cinema: Films Shot at Palmdale Regional Airport

In the previous edition of Airport Cinema, it was mentioned that the 2004 film ‘The Terminal’, while set almost entirely in John F. Kennedy Airport, was filmed at two airports. One of these airports was Montréal Mirabel Airport. You’d think that surely the other filming location must have been JFK Airport? Well, you would be mistaken. It is none other than Palmdale Regional Airport.

Palmdale Airport in Popular Culture

The entire set for ‘The Terminal’ was created in a massive hangar at the airport. Director of the film, Steven Spielberg, had intended to film inside an actual airport, but struggled to find one that would allow him to do so. So, the set had to be built inside a hangar next to the airport. But the layout of this new airport terminal was in fact modelled on Düsseldorf airport. So, while the setting of the film is JFK Airport, it took three airports to complete the set, none of which were the actual airport the story is set in. No wonder Tom Hanks’ character was so lost in that film.

The set for The Terminal

With this knowledge, it seems only natural that this same location would be used to film a massive showdown between pirates taking place in a humongous Maelstrom. Or maybe not? But that’s exactly what happened. The climatic sequence of Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End was shot in the very same location, as the airport was the only location large enough to contain full-sized replica pirate ships used in the film. It is one of the largest sequences in the film, and at the time, the film was the most expensive ever made.

The airport was also used briefly in 2008’s Iron Man and was featured in the first episode of American TV Series ‘Dynasty’.

About Palmdale Regional Airport

The airport currently does not have any scheduled passenger airlines services. It has a joint use agreement with United States Airport Plant 42, who currently manage all airfield operations. It has two runways that are often used by NASA. One of these runways is one of the strongest in the world, as it was built to withstand an 8.3 Richter scale earthquake.

So whether you’re into watching pirates brawl or are stopping by to survive an earthquake, then Palmdale Regional Airport may be the place for you. Just don’t ask Tom Hanks for directions!

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