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Don Meuang (ดอนเมือง)

Thai. Name of an airport (fig.), named after the zone or khet in Bangkok, where it was built, located on a high ground area, hence the name Don, which means ‘highland’ or ‘high ground’. It initially opened as a Royal Thai Air Force base and operations officially started on 8 March 1914, making it Asia's oldest operating airport, whilst commercial flights reportedly began in 1924. It was built as an alternate for the Sanam Bin Sra Pathum airstrip (fig.) at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club's (fig.) in Pathumwan District, of which the central grass field of the horse racetrack doubled as a makeshift airfield, ever since the Belgian pilot Charles Van den Born (fig.) in 1911 used it for a flight demonstration with his airplane Henri Farman (fig.), thus introducing aviation to Thailand by carrying out the first powered flight in the Kingdom. In the 1920's, certain models of the French Breguet 14B, which in the early days served as a mail plane (fig.) were license-built by the Siamese at Don Meuang (fig.), as was Siam's own Boriphat bomber aircraft (fig.) designed and built by the Royal Siamese Air Force in 1927. Don Meuang remained Thailand's main airport with both an international and domestic terminal, until the opening of Suwannaphum Airport (fig.) in September 2006. Though commercial carriers initially discarded Don Meuang at the opening of Suwannaphum, some eventually returned, due to overcapacity and higher operating costs at the new airport. Don Meuang today mainly handles low-cost domestic flights, cargo and some chartered flights. See also meuang. See also POSTAGE STAMPS.