For Kelly Hope, the best thing about flying into the airport in Burbank bearing his father's name is hearing the pilot's voice when he announces:

"We're approaching Bob Hope Airport ..."

Kelly Hope says he gets great joy and pleasure from the reaction of other passengers when they connect the name or when he sees the recognition on people's faces as they walk through the airport.

"It's nice to see his name being kept alive," said Hope, 63, who on Wednesday will take part in another event perpetuating his father's memory.

The airport with Hope's famous name will celebrate its 80th anniversary, with government officials, civic and business leaders as well as hundreds of airport employees taking part in ceremonies.

Originally opened as United Airport in 1930 by the forerunner of United Airlines, the airport was named for Bob Hope in 2003 shortly after his death at the age of 100 at his home in nearby Toluca Lake.

In an interview Tuesday, Kelly Hope said the family considers the airport central in keeping memories of Hope fresh.

"The airport's important to us," he said, "because we like to think that we are able to keep our father's legacy alive."

To that end, Caltrans workers have recently been changing freeway signs leading to the airport to reflect that it is the Bob Hope Airport motorists are approaching.

In addition, images of the late comedian as well as biographical information on his


contributions to the country will soon be found throughout the airport and terminal. In addition to his comedy, Hope was also known for his work with the U.S. armed forces and his USO tours entertaining American military personnel.

In February, a bas-relief sculpture of Bob Hope was unveiled and is currently on display in the lobby of the airport terminal.

"We want to make sure that people passing through know that this is actually the Bob Hope Airport and all that it implies," said Jack O'Neill, chief executive officer of the Bob Hope Legacy, which is underwriting the sign changes as well as the terminal tributes to the entertainer.

The Bob Hope Legacy and the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority are hosting Wednesday's anniversary commemoration to be held under a large pavilion tent next to the valet parking center, where an airport photo historical will be on display.

Ceremonies will be from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Also expected at the ceremonies is Bob Gilliland of Burbank, retired pilot of the SR-71, a spy plane nicknamed the Blackbird that was secretly built at the Burbank Airport in the early 1960s, and then assembled and flown out of Lancaster by Gilliland in its first flight in 1964.

The airport's name was changed to Union Air Terminal in 1934, and then to Lockheed Air Terminal in 1940 when Lockheed Aircraft Corporation bought it.

In 1967, Lockheed renamed the facility Hollywood-Burbank Airport, and it was rechristened the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport in 1978 when those cities formed a new airport authority and bought it from Lockheed.

In that time, the airport has undergone dramatic changes, witnessed by one of its longest tenured employees - Bob Anderson, who in 31 years rose from the ranks of security to manager of engineering and planning.

"Probably the biggest change has been the airline service that has come to the airport," said Anderson. "When I started working here we didn't have that many flights or passengers."

Today Bob Hope Airport offers service by Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, SkyWest-Delta Connection, SkyWest-United Express, Southwest Airlines and US Airways with nonstop flights to San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Salt Lake City, Denver and New York.

In 2009, 4.6 million passengers passed through the airport.

"The airport has been crucially important to Burbank - it's changed the whole complexion of our city," said Mary Jane Strickland, founder of the Burbank Historical Society.

Strickland said she is aware of common complaints from residents near the airport of the noise, traffic and pollution, but that those critics are forgetting an important aspect of the city's history.

"We have pictures of the airport when there was nothing for miles around it," said Strickland. "My question to these people is why did you move there? The airport was already there.

"It was important for our troop movement during the (Second World) War, and its importance has continued as it became commercial.

"The airport has been an important part of our history."