From Howard Hughes to the WASP program of World War II to today, the history of William P. Hobby Airport includes many riveting stories. The airport that made Houston an international travel destination is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.
Hobby Airport brought the beginnings of commercial aviation to Houston when it was opened in 1927 by the W.T. Carter Lumber Co. In 1937 it was bought by the City of Houston and, as facilities were improved and modernized, air transportation services grew.
Houston has long had a love affair with Hobby Airport, says Richard Vacar, director of the Houston Airport System, from the 1950s when Pan American Airways gave Houston its first international flights to its service today as a hub for low-cost carriers.
Part of Hobby’s history was its role in the recruitment of Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II. Hundreds of WASP trainees passed through the airport as part of the nation’s first female military pilot program.
Long before historic preservation became popular, and as many unique air terminals fell victim to bulldozers, Houston recognized the significance of its splendid art deco terminal and leased it to the Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society, Vacar said. The building is now preserved as The 1940 Air Terminal Museum. It is one of the few remaining airport terminals in the country from the golden age of aviation.
A number of events are planned this year, Vacar said, including an art contest for Houston area school students, community and civic events, and a celebration gala. The festivities opened in January with the unveiling of Hobby’s 80th anniversary logo and a birthday party in the terminal and will continue throughout 2007, he said.
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