The History of PIE
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the airfield was constructed on its present site as a military flight-training base. Known then as Pinellas Army Airfield, the airport was a base for the 304th Fighter Squadron, a combat training unit of the 337th Fighter Group (Third Army Air Force). It based P-40s and, later, P-51s for the duration of World War II. A permanent exhibit commemorating the airport's place in history is located in the terminal and dedicated to Brigadier General James H. Howard, the only European Theater fighter pilot to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in WWII and the last wartime base commander of Pinellas Army Airfield.
Following WWII, the U.S. Government gave the airport property to Pinellas County to operate as a commercial airport. It was originally called the Pinellas International Airport and given the airport call letters, PIE. The original terminal building was dedicated in 1957 and the following year the airport was renamed St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport to capitalize on recognition as a tourism destination. In 2013, we rebranded and shortened our name to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and adopted a new logo.
PIE is located on Tampa Bay, north of St. Petersburg—the birthplace of commercial air transportation. Barely a decade after the Wright brothers' pioneer flight at Kitty Hawk, the first ticket for air travel was sold by the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line to a fare-paying passenger. This historic event on January 1, 1914, marked the beginning of commercial air transportation. A replica of the Benoist amphibious airplane flown on the inaugural flight is displayed in baggage claim.
The airport is a 2,000-acre fully certified facility with 2 runways. It is home to the busiest Coast Guard Air Station in the world. U.S. Customs and the FAA-operated control tower are also important federal government services at the airport, along with the Airport Industrial Park. The entire 2000-acre tract of the airport is designated as a Foreign Trade Zone.