Q&A with Larry McCartt, L&B’s First Employee

July 2016

A lot has changed since Charlie Landrum and John Brown first opened the doors of Landrum & Brown (L&B) in 1949. The Cincinnati-based firm eventually grew to become a global leader in airport and aviation planning with 20 offices worldwide. We recently met up with L&B's first employee, Larry McCartt, to take a walk down memory lane and reminisce the good old days.

Larry McCartt & Doug Goldberg

How did you meet Charlie Landrum?

I met up with Charlie one Sunday morning in 1954 on the steps outside of our church, Madison Avenue Christian Church in Covington, KY. It was the day after I graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning and received a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design. Charlie and my father, who was a civil engineer and land surveyor, were talking shop and then Charlie turned to me and asked me about my plans after graduation. I told him I was ripe for the draft at any time. He said he needed someone with my artistic background and aviation knowledge for a project or two. He and John provided me with an office above theirs on 4th Street in downtown Cincinnati, a far cry from their “storage area” confines at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).

What was your first project?

The first project I worked on was a brochure for Akron–Canton Airport and later some endeavors concerning Lambert–St. Louis International Airport in Missouri and CVG, of course. At CVG, I assembled a scale model of sorts of the new ramp area, complete with the terminal fingers that are there today. One of my favorite things that took place was Charlie “farming” me out to CVG and setting up “camp” in the airport manager’s office. Byron Dickey was my supervisor there and a neighbor of ours in Ft. Mitchell. My duties were to organize working plans for additional hangar space facilities in addition to John Hendricks’ fixed-based operator (FBO) already in place.

What are some of your most interesting memories from L&B?

One thing that stands out most was Byron coaxing me to blow my salary on flying lessons. He would let me go during my lunch hour. Since 1955, I’ve spent a lot of time in the air flying all sorts of antiques, the most famous was Randolph Hearst’s 1930 WACO around St. Petersburg, FL. Recently, I celebrated my 84th birthday by taking my wife for a brief tour over the islands west of Ft. Myers, FL, our home away from home, in a Cessna 182.

An interesting memory of my time with Charlie was the time he and I did some surveying regarding ramp reconfiguration at CVG. Thanks to my father (he chose the site for CVG in late 1930’s), I became an accomplished surveyor. Charlie and I proceeded to layout the revised ramp change and extended them so the airplanes could make the turns.

I used to love talking about airplanes with John Brown. He was a former fighter pilot and I had always wanted to join the Air Force. I attempted to join a couple times but was too skinny and eventually a lung kept me out.

What are some of the changes you have seen in the aviation industry?

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since the mid-1950s. The most unusual and mind boggling being TSA being thrust upon passengers young and old. I must not be a threat anymore as I am usually waived thru while my wife, much younger that I, must get in the slow lane.

Not as many people used to fly back then, so it was an event. Passengers dressed up like they were going to church. The airlines also served their meals on china–I still have a piece from Western Airlines. Airplanes have changed a great deal, too; everything is digital. You can just look at a screen and see exactly where you are. Terminal facilities are just plain awesome in most cases now; I trust L&B had a lot to do with that.

What have you done since your days at L&B?

After L&B, I spent most of my time in advertising, promotion, broadcast and an art studio or two. My career highlight was working as the art director for The Phil Donahue Show. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of celebrities, including Norman Rockwell. I received a signed print from a series he did for the Ford Motor Company’s 50th anniversary. After retirement, I operated a railroad at Kings Island amusement park for 13 seasons!

About L&B:

L&B is the oldest and most innovative privately owned consultancy dedicated solely to the needs of the commercial aviation community, focusing on solutions for the world’s busiest and most challenging airports. Our focus on the highly specialized issues of the global aviation industry provides our clients with a level of expertise and vision that cannot be matched by our competitors. Through experience and innovation, our ideas are shaping the future of aviation.