Skip to main content

Wings Over Austin: The History of Austin Aviation

WINGS OVER AUSTIN: The History of Austin Aviation
[PICA 19600]

1999 - Summer

This exhibit follows the flight path of our city's aviation story, from the city's first airplane landing through the transformation of Bergstrom Air Force Base into the new Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. See images and resources from this exhibit at the Austin History Center.

The first airplane to land in Austin was the Vin Fiz, a Wright Brothers biplane flown by the adventurer Cal Rodgers on his 1911 transcontinental flight. Rodgers landed in a field at the Ridgetop subdivision, in the vicinity of 45th and Duval Streets. Cal Rodgers and the Vin Fiz
[PICA 19516]
Lt. John A. McCurdy
[PICA 19533]
John A. McCurdy directed the first landings of military aircraft at Penn Field during WW I. The Austin Chamber of Commerce, led by Walter Long, used private funds to purchase land south of St. Edward's University for Penn Field.
Robert Mueller Municipal Airport opened in 1930. The commercial airlines serving Austin in the 1930s were Braniff International, American, and Bowen. Braniff began scheduling flights on 1 January, 1935. During the first six months of that year, 1345 passengers landed in Austin and 1502 passengers flew out. Braniff Airlines comes to Austin
[PICA 01380]
Wrong Way Corrigan being mobbed on Congress Avenue
[PICA 06770]
"Wrong-Way Corrigan" and his plane were mobbed by Austinites on a backward ride down Congress Avenue in August 1938. Earlier that year, after filing a flight plan from New York to California, Corrigan embarked from New York on a solo flight to Ireland. When asked how he could have made that mistake, this folk hero's response was "I must have misread my instruments."
The initial use of Del Valle Army Air Base in 1943 was as a base of operations for troop transport. The base was soon renamed in honor of Capt. John Earl Bergstrom, the first Austin man to be killed in WWII. Dawn at Bergstrom Air Force Base
[PICA 02741]