Travelers to and from Pensacola will once again be boldly flying through an intergalactic travel hub. "We're not just on the map, I think we're going to be on the intergalactic map after this" said Pensacola City Administrator Eric Olson speaking at a Tuesday morning ceremony renaming the Pensacola International Airport, Pensacola Intergalactic Airport.
The name change is of course in honor of Pensacon, which will be returning to the city next month. Mike Ensley, the Chairman and Founder of Pensacon spoke during the airport ceremony and received a proclamation from the city renaming the airport. "I want to give thanks the all of our community support that we get every year. Not only from the residents and the attendees, but also the business community, the local government, everyone who supports Pensacon every year." Ensley says with a month to go before the convention, plans are firming up. "We're getting there, we're working on it still. We still are announcing a few guests here and there. We [just] announced Linda Harrison from Planet of the Apes, the original Nova. [She's] one of the last surviving cast members from that film. There's still a few more people to get in but everything's getting there, we're really close now."
The airport also unveiled a display of some props that appeared in the movie Star Trek: Into Darkness which arriving passengers will see as they leave their flights. They are on loan from the Merrill family at the Southern Restaurant Group. Bernie Merrill describes what is on display. "That is a Lieutenant Sulu hero uniform that he wore throughout the movie Star Trek: Into Darkness which came out in 2013." There is also a white case on display that Merrill says is the 'cold fusion device' that Mr. Spock used in a volcano early in the same film. Merrill says his businesses have been involved with Pensacon since the con’s second year, with various restaurant locations dedicated to different interests such as Harry Potter, Star Wars and Star Trek. He says he’s glad to be able to show off his Star Trek collection. "I've been collected them for about 10 or 15 years now and had them in a warehouse, basically because my wife wasn't going to let me keep them in the house. So, I really didn't know what we were going to do with them so this kind of worked out pretty well for us."
Downstairs near the baggage claim area at the airport is another display. It's on loan from The USS Continuum, a Star Trek fan group that has been operating in the area for 25 years and also loaned one of their exhibits to the airport. It’s a replica of the time portal from the Star trek episode the City of the Edge of Forever. Jay Gallops, the Commanding Officer says it's the first time this exhibit, which the club constructed, has been on display.
According to economic impact studies Pensacon gave the local economy a $1.4 million bump in 2017 and has been responsible for over $10 million of economic activity since it began in 2014. This year’s event is set for February 23, 24, and 25 at the Bay Center, as well as the Rex, the Saengar and the Pensacola Little Theater.