From Leonardo da Vinci to George Best – hundreds of airports around the world have been named after famous leaders, explorers and entertainers of our time. However, in a recent poll by British Airways, the majority of youngsters (aged 12 to 18) can only identify 40 per cent of the famous names.

Although former US presidents John F Kennedy and George Bush were the two most recognised names, with over 75 per cent awareness, teens struggled with other world leaders. Just 17 per cent correctly identified Kenya’s first Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta, and only half recognised French Statesman Charles de Gaulle.
In a barometer of fame, Harry Styles who had 72 per cent awareness with youngsters, beat Mother Teresa (53 per cent), Louis Armstrong (57 per cent) and Frederic Chopin (52 per cent) when it came to awareness.

The poll also showed that one in ten youngsters incorrectly believe that:

  • Ronald Reagan was really Ronald McDonald
  • Mother Teresa was the real name of the Queen Mother
  • George Bush is a stand-up comedian
  • Leonardo da Vinci was the star of ‘Titanic’
  • Louis Armstrong was the world’s strongest man
  • Rajiv Gandhi was a Disney character
  • Christopher Columbus was a famous astrologer
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart discovered the island of Ibiza
  • Frederic Chopin was a world-famous tennis player
  • Edward O’Hare was a world-famous snooker player
  • George Best was the former King of Great Britain

Claire Bentley, British Airways Holidays’ managing director, said: “We were surprised that some of our most popular destinations, such as McCarran International Las Vegas, Chicago O’Hare and Barbados Grantley Adams airports, had some of the lowest recognition of origin of their names. We hope this piece of research will raise awareness for some of the greats that airports have been named after.”

In the same survey, adults were able to identify 70 per cent of names, but struggled with some of the most popular destinations. Only 16 per cent recognised Pat McCarran from Las Vegas, and 15 per cent knew that Sydney airport was named after Australian aviator Charles Kingsford Smith.

Additionally, 10 per cent of adults think Venetian explorer Marco Polo was a fashion designer, three per cent think Leonardo da Vinci was the star of ‘Titanic’, and two per cent believe Mother Teresa founded website Mumsnet.

Test your Knowledge
Take the test and see how many names you can identify:
1. Leonardo da Vinci (Rome-Fiumicino Airport)
2. Jomo Kenyatta (Nairobi Airport)
3. John F Kennedy (New York Airport)
4. Louis Armstrong (New Orleans Airport)
5. Frederic Chopin (Warsaw Airport)
6. Grantley Adams (Barbados Airport)
7. George Best (Belfast City Airport)
8. Ronald Reagan (Washington Airport)
9. Edward O’Hare (Chicago Airport)
10. George Bush (Houston Airport Texas)
11. Charles Kingsford Smith (Sydney Airport)
12. Pat McCarran (Las Vegas Airport)
13. Charles de Gaulle (Paris Airport)
14. John Paul II (Krakow Airport)
15. Rajiv Gandhi (Hyderabad Airport)
16. Marco Polo (Venice Airport)
17. Norman Manley (Kingston Airport, Jamaica)
18. Mother Teresa (Tirana Airport, Albania)
19. Christopher Columbus (Genoa Airport)
20. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Salzburg Airport)

(1)Artist, (2) First Kenyan prime minister/president, (3) Former US President (4) Jazz musician, (5) Composer, (6) First President of Barbados, (7) Footballer, (8) Former US President, (9) US Navy flying ace, (10) Former US President, (11) Australian aviator, (12) Former Senator of Nevada, (13) French general, Statesman and President, (14) Former Pope of the Catholic Church, (15) Former Prime Minister of India, (16) Venetian explorer, (17) Jamaican Statesman, (18), Catholic missionary, (19) Italian explorer, (20) Composer and musician.