Aviation History
Brownwood and Brown County

December 17, 1903: First controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

October 4, 1913: Postoffice Department at Washington, Route No. 650.003 areoplane mail service between Brownwood and Comanche, Texas has been established between their postoffices on October 10, 11, 12, 1913, one trip each way each day. Lester Miller of Dallas was the aviator.  He made flights each day during the Free Fall Fair.

October 7, 1914: Miss Katherine Stinson, the youngest aviator in the world who has passed all the International Tests, made daily flights at the Brownwood Free Fall Fair.  She also carried passengers up into the clouds charging $25.00 per passenger.

March 3, 1920:  Lieutenants R. W. Lutz and F. E. Monor of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, flew a practically new Curtis type plane over Brownwood, using the landing field west of the end of Austin Avenue as their base.

April 9, 1924: An entire squadron of airplanes will be in Brownwood to participate in the maneuvers which will be held here during the annual convention of the West Texas Chamber of Commerce May 13, 14 and 15.  The fleet will fly here a day or two before the convention is opened and will leave after the convention closes.
June 29, 1926: A party of University of Texas students, with two brand new airplanes, reached Brownwood Monday afternoon for a stay of three days.  Bill Warren will do a parachute drop from a plane tomorrow afternoon at 4:15.  The landing field used by the University party here is near the Brownwood Floral Company's greenhouses, just north of Avenue K.

November 10, 1929: Pending the selection of a permanent municipal airport site for Brownwood, the board of directors of the Brown County Fair Association has decided to permit airplanes coming to Brownwood to use the fifty acres inside the mile race track here.  This has been used successfully in the past by airplanes and can be used temporarily. 

February 14, 1932: Airports have been established at Brownwood and Spearman.

1935:  Airport in Brownwood was launched as a 200 acre tract leased by the city from the county.
June 9, 1935:  Dr. Edgar Fuller, Dallas scientist and inventor, has been tinkering with mechanics and chemistry all his life, following his engineering studies at Georgia Tech and New York University.  He is an expert in aeronautics and constructed the beacon fields for the San Antonio and Brownwood airports.  Dr. Fuller is chief engineer for the Joiner Oil Corporation.

November 23, 1935: WPA funds have been approved by the Bureau of Air Commerce of the Department of Commerce in the amount of $19,863 for grading, draining, applying six-inch calicle base on runways, clearing and leveling.

December 7, 1939:  The Brownwood City Council has authorized the construction of a hangar at the municipal airport.  A temporary but substantial building will be erected for the use of Daniel Baker and Howard Payne students taking part in the Civil Aeronautics Authority's student pilot training program.

September 11, 1940: The Army Air Corps Tuesday officially approved the 200 acre Brownwood municipal airport as the headquarters for the air squadron of the Thirty-Sixth Division. The field will be lighted and water, gas and other utilities installed.  The runways, now of calicle, will be paved.

December 3, 1940: Mess halls, tent frames and other facilities were up at Brownwood Municipal Airport, where the 111th Observation Squadron is being quartered.  Temporary gas, electric and telephone lines have been extended to the airport.

January 9, 1941: The City of Brownwood has purchased 160 acres on the west side of the present municipal airport, which will give the airport a total acreage of 360.  The new land will provide for the longer runways needed for a military field.

March 27, 1941: Erection of structural steel for the Army hangar at the Brownwood municipal airport will begin Monday, according to the construction quartermaster's office at Camp Bowie.  Three carloads of steel have arrived and are being taken by truck to the airport, five miles north of the city.

June 20, 1941: The Robert E. McKee Construction Company, general contractors un the original, fixed-fee system by which most of the construction work was done, is winding up work on the only unfinished buildings of its contract – the bakery, laundry and the military hangar at the municipal airport.

January 11, 1942: Brownwood's first Texas defense Guard unit will be Flight B of the Abilene squadron of the defense guard's aviation branch.  Organization of the flights is being completed by C. C. Kersey, operator of the Brownwood DAA flying school and manager of the municipal airport. Kersey recently received a commission as captain in the defense guards.  The flight will have one speedy cabin plane and several light planes.

November 29, 1942: Two men are seriously injured by a dynamite explosion today at the Brownwood airport.  Isidoro Garcia Salas of Winchester suffered a broken leg and James Elam of Calvert had both legs broken.  They were employed in road construction.

December 24, 1943:  Olivia De Havilland, Warner Brother's star, will make a short visit to Dallas Tuesday en route from Brownwood to El Paso. 

February 2, 1946: Daily air passenger service between Dallas and San Angelo will be started Saturday by Westland Airlines, L. H. Riedl, vice-president in charge of traffic, said in Dallas Friday.  The new airline, which will operate on a feederline schedule, has been flying twin-motored equipment from San Angelo to Fort Worth for two months, and will extend daily service into Love Field immediately.  Westland expects to add stops at Brownwood and Stephenville in about thirty days, Riedl said.

February 5, 1946: The army air forces announced today they had declared Brownwood army airfield as surplus.
April 7, 1946: An estimated crowd of from 8,000 to 10,000 visitors swarmed over Brownwood's new municipal airport facilities here today to witness an aerial show and participate in open house festivities making the official opening of the former 1,500 acre army base for civilian use.  The huge air field installation, with four concrete runways each 6,500 feet in length, officially became the properly of the City of Brownwood Saturday, the first Texas army field to revert to civilian use an done  of the first in the nation to be converted, according to Brownwood's Mayor Wendell Mayes.  Jack Broad, recently discharged from the army air forces, has been named manager of the airport.

November 28, 1946: The Civil Aeronautics Board Wednesday authorized new air transport service between Dallas and smaller Texas and Oklahoma towns.  The temporary three-year certificate under which Aviation Enterprises will operate will provide service between, among other cities, Dallas and Fort Stockton via Fort Worth, Stephenville, Brownwood, Coleman, San Angelo and McCamey-Shefield.  The feeder line will provide both air passenger and air mail service.

August 8, 1947: The War Assets Administration Thursday notified Brownwood city officials that it has given Brownwood Army Air Field to the city for use as a Municipal airport. The multi-million-dollar property, five miles north of Brownwood, includes 942 acres, supplementing 434 acres previously owned by the city and used as a municipal airport. Some of the buildings on the property have been advertised for sale for off-field use.
October 8, 1947: Trans-Texas Airways started regular airline service in Brownwood using two DC-3s. When the original service was launched through Brownwood, the route to the west ended at San Angelo.  Later, El Paso became the western terminus of TTS operations after previous extensions to McCamey, Fort Stockton, Marfa-Alpine and Pecos. TTA is an outgrowth of Aviation Enterprises, Ltd: a company organized in 1940 to handle sales and service of aircraft, operate a Civil Aviation Association advanced flight school, and an approved repair and overhaul station.

May 13, 1949: The Civil Aeronautics Administration's district office has recommended that application of the City of Brownwood for a 150 acre airport at Camp Bowie be granted.

November 7, 1948: William Hargrave, Fort Worth music teacher, was slightly injured here today when the small plane he was piloting crashed on a takeoff at Brownwood airport.  Airport manager Jack Broad said Hargrave had failed to remove aileron locks form the ship before taking off for Fort Worth.  The plan crashed from an altitude of 50 feet and was badly damaged.

November 1, 1949: Trans-Texas Airlines, 21 Passenger DC-3 Starliners Daily System schedule. 

January 1, 1950: Seven Coleman Boy Scouts and their senior patrol leader and scoutmaster flew to Brownwood Wednesday for an inspection of the local airport.  Scoutmaster Ed Burnam was in t charge of the group, assisted by Parker Nunley, senior patrol leader, and Patrol Leader Joe Ed Burnam.  They returned to Coleman on a Trans-Texas Airways plane.

January 1, 1950:  Trans-Texas Airways has announced a new schedule of four flights daily through Brownwood, effective January 8.  An early morning and late evening schedules have been eliminated.

April 28, 1950: An AT-5 plane from the Matagorda Island aerial gunnery range landed today on the Richland Springs gravel road about 10 miles south of Brownwood.  One of the men caught a ride into Brownwood.  The other stayed beside the plane.  It was reported the plane had run out of gas after having difficulty landing elsewhere because of low ceilings. 

October 14, 1950:  The Brownwood twister caved in two walls of a new $25,000 administration building at the city's municipal airport .The northwest corner of the building was completely blown away.  Plate glass windows in the building were blown out.  It knocked down a line of telephone poles to disrupt communications.  No injuries were reported. The storm occurred abut 5:30 p.m.

August 25, 1952: William Coverdale Jr., of Chattanooga, Tenn., covered 288 miles in his motorless aircraft Friday afternoon in his flight from Grand Prairie to Brownwood and back.  The previous out-and-back record of 242 miles was held by a Swedish glider pilot. 

October 17, 1952: The public is invited to be at the Brownwood Airport Saturday at 12:40 p.m. when some 35 to 40 planes in the All-Texas Air Tour make and official stop here.  The Chamber of Commerce and Junior Chamber of Commerce aviation committees, headed by Bob Ross and C. Q. Davis, respectively, will serve sandwiches, coffee and cold drinks to the pilots and passengers in the tour.

April 29, 1953: The City of Brownwood will accept sealed bids on the removal of a hangar from Lamesa, Texas, to the Brownwood wood Municipal Airport.

August 23, 1953: A new large airport hangar, which the city received from the Civil Aeronautics Administration, was moved form Lamesa to the Brownwood Airport. The huge hangar, 100 by 200 feet, was moved form Lamesa to Brownwood and reconstructed here by D. C. Lemmons.  The regular Brownwood Airport hangar is to the left of the newly-erected hangar.

December 20, 1953: The new year will see a beginning of the long-sought north-south service to Brownwood.  Earlier this year Trans-Texas was authorized to begin San Antonio-to-Brownwood service, via Kerrville and Brady, as soon as the required facilities could be provided at the new stops.

February 6, 1954: The Civil Aeronautics Board Friday authorized Trans-Texas Airways to omit Coleman, Texas on all but one round trip per day on its flights between Fort Stockton and Dallas via San Angelo, Coleman, Brownwood and Fort Worth.  The board also approved Trans-Texas' request to overfly Brownwood on flights which serve Coleman on this same route.

November 11, 1955: CAA authorities were investigating an incident which occurred at the Brownwood airport Wednesday involving a Cessna 180 and a Trans-Texas Airlines plane which was attempting to land.  Police here said the airliner was coming in for a landing when the smaller plane came down and landed across the runways, directly in front of the airliner. The airliner went into a sharp climb, barely missing the private plane.

January 1, 1956: Miller & Co., manufacturer of western shirts, begins operations Monday in the new location in a hanger building at Brownwood Municipal Airport. Mr. and Mrs. O. K. Gray of Brownwood are mangers of the plant and are also stockholders in the new corporation.  The building is owned by the City of Brownwood.  A total of 87 machines of different types have been installed for various operations of the manufacture of shirts.

January 29, 1957: The Civil Aeronautics Board said this week is has authorized Trans-Texas Airways to serve Brownwood and San Angelo, Texas on its route between Fort Worth and Big Spring.  The only intermediate stop on the Fort Worth-Big Spring route currently is Abilene.

January 2, 1958: Trans-Texas Airways, Dallas-San Angelo Schedule.

Dallas –Brownwood -San Antonio

December 18, 1958: A hearing on Trans-Texas Airways' request for a permanent certificate to provide air service for Brownwood, as well as other cities in the state, has been tentatively set for January 12 at Dallas.  Trans-Texas is currently serving the city under a three-year temporary certificate, which will expire in the near future. The airline last week closed its office in Brady and no longer gives service at the airport there.

May 13, 1959: A CAB examiner, Thomas L. Wrenn, said renewal of Trans-Texas Airlines' authorization to fly to six places was not required or justified by public convenence and necessity.  Points affected were College Station-Bryan, Beeville, Coleman and Brady, Texas. The airline particularly urged renewal on service to Brownwood from Dallas-Fort Worth, but it opposed renewal on the line from Brownwood to San Antonio, via Brady and Kerrville.  Examiner Wrenn agreed with the airline. Wrenn's decision will become final on May 22.

March 13, 1960: Brownwood's new airport terminal will be open to the public this afternoon during formal open house activities beginning at 1:30 p.m.  The new building is immediately north of the Brownwood Municipal Airport hangar.  New lights on the north-south runway and improvement of roads, and easements on land needed for extension of the airport were also made.

November 27, 1964: Six dump trucks with caliche, and a maintainer were on hand at 9 a.m. to begin removing a 150x30-foot strip at the south end of the main runway, with plans to rip out as 100x20-fot chunk at the north end later today. City crews were called on to make repairs after a big twin-engine Convair had landing difficulty early Wednesday due to a chunk of asphalt had been thrown against the fuselage of a Trans-Texas Airways plane.

October 11, 1965: R. J. Stevenson of Houston was killed about 3:50 p.m. Sunday when the Douglas Dauntless dive bomber he was piloting crashed shortly after takeoff from the Brownwood Airport.

March 13, 1966: A two-seater Comanche aircraft hit the side of a hill in very rugged country 10 miles northeast of Brownwood on the B. U. Ross Ranch. Aboard the plane were Mr. and Mrs. Max Bowers who were on a flight from Abilene for College Station via Brownwood. Both people were killed in the crash.

December 18, 1966: The 1,000 foot extension to the north-south runway at Brownwood Municipal Airport will now become a reality after approval came Friday on a matching grant from the Federal Aviation Agency.  Some $37,000 was granted.  The FAA earlier this year, granted the city $188,900 in matching funds for airport improvement.  The work with this money is expected to be completed by February 15.

November 19, 1967: J. G. Ghormley Jr., 46, mayor of the Fort Worth suburb of Edgecliff Village, died Saturday when his P51 Mustang, a World War II pursuit plane, crashed a half mile south of the Brownwood Airport runway.  Ghormley was practicing takeoffs and landings.  The plane stalled and crashed on the third landing.

November 23, 1967:  The 600-foot extension to Brownwood Municipal Airport's main runway was open to traffic this morning after the contractor completed paving work Wednesday afternoon.  Highland Pavers is contractor for the extension. Addition of the 600 feet will permit the Brownwood airport to be used by prop-jet aircraft and by small all-jet aircraft.

July 30, 1968: Stockholders of Trans-Texas Airways, Inc. voted this week to change the state of incorporation of the firm and name of the firm to Texas International Airlines, Inc.

1969: Trans Texas Airways becomes Texas International and operated a fleet of DC-9 jets. TIA continued to serve the Brownwood market.

May 16, 1974: Texas International Airlines (formerly Trans-Texas Airways) today announced passenger boarding in Brownwood increased 15.6 percent to 340 last month over April 1973.

July 21, 1974: Texas International Airlines has lost some passenger traffic because commuters from such cities as Wichita Falls, Abilene and Brownwood drive into Dallas instead of flying into the regional airport.

June 17, 1976: Texas Aeronautics Commission approved Wednesday a permit for Eagle Commuter Airlines of Brownwood, owned by Gerald James of Brownwood, to provide three round-trip flights daily from that city to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.  The firm plans to fly a twin-engine Cessna 402 aircraft with eight passengers and two pilots.  James, a member of the city's airport board, operates Brownwood Aero and provides charter flights, instruction in aviation and air taxi service.

December 2, 1976: The Eagle landed at the Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport here about 11 a.m. 

Wednesday, December 1, ushering in a new era of air service for Brownwood. Brownwood initiated its home-owned commuter airline service between Brownwood and Dallas-Fort Worth Wednesday morning. Eagle has made arrangements to gate with Braniff Airlines at D-FW.  After Texas International Airlines announced it would stop serving Brownwood with its 40 passenger Convair 600 planes, residents of the city formed Eagle Commuter Airlines. Texas International's last flight was canceled when mechanical trouble developed, so Eagle Airlines started a day early and flew a full load to Dallas on November 30th.

December 2, 1977: In its first year of operation, Eagles Airlines has managed to stay out of the red, "I think," said Groner Pitts, a member of the airline's board of directors, that at last count we were in the black by $58.15 which ain't bad if you ask me."  It transported somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 passengers on its $36 (1-way) flights in its first year.

September 9, 1979: Eagle Commuter Airlines has state permission to add Waco to its Dallas/Fort Worth, Brownwood and San Angelo service.

September 20, 1979: The Texas Aeronautics Commission repealed the temporary authority of Eagle Airlines to fly from Brownwood to Meacham and Dallas Love Field.  It granted an extension until January 12 for Eagle to begin operation on a Brownwood-Waco-Hobby route.

April 1, 1980: A federal investigator said Monday internal parts of two engines on an Eagle Airlines commuter plane were working properly when the Piper Navajo crashed while taking off from Hobby Airport in Houston
March 21.  Johnson also said a preliminary examination showed the plane was "slightly overloaded" when it crashed.  Seven persons died. Johnson said earlier a witness reported that Walter Mathison, the small plan's pilot, tried to make an emergency landing before the craft struck a helicopter, four parked cars and a hangar on the ground.

February 25, 1986: Eagle Airlines has been forced to discontinue operations pending an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration.  Tim Morrow, chief executive officer of Eagle Airlines said the revocation, which went into effect Friday, is based on exceeded flying times on turbocharge clamps, and a couple of other things.

September 24, 1986: Exec Express Airlines starts daily service to Brownwood from Dallas/Fort Worth.  Exec Express filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1988.

June 12, 1988: Exec Express II resumes normal flights after it planes were grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration for what the FAA charged were improper maintenance schedules and records.

June 9, 1991: Lone Star Airlines officially began service to 16 cities in six states.  Lone Star (name changed from Exec Express II) will begin using a turbo-powered plane, the Fairchild Metro III, in addition to its Beechcraft C-99 airliners. Lone Star serves Brownwood and Paris, Texas among other airports.

Late 1996: Lone Star Airlines was acquired by Peak International, an aviation group out of aspen, Colorado, funded largely by Skico and the Crown family.  The airline was liquidated in October 1998.  Some of the assets and crews went to Air Wisconsin. Some of the routes were taken over by Big Sky Airlines. 

October 9, 1998: In September, 1998, AMA (Exec Express II, Inc. d/b/a Aspen Mountain Air and Lone Star Airlines) advised the United States Department of Transportation that it wanted to be relieved of its essential air service responsibilities at El Dorado/Camden, Jonesboro, Harrison, and Hot Springs, Arkansas, Enid and Ponca City, Oklahoma, and Brownwood, Texas, as soon as possible. By Order 98-10-9, issued October 7, 1998, the Department selected Big Sky to take over AMA’s operations at those points.  Big Sky started to take over Exec Express II d/b/a Lone Start Airlines/Aspen Mountain Air's EAS routes in October 1998, following their bankruptcy. Transfer of services was completed in December 1998.

October 18, 2000: In a story titled "Local residents remember Depression years," by Harriette Graves, in the Brownwood Bulletin, John A. Thomason remembers that "Airplanes flew over Brownwood and there was a local airport near 12th and 13th street," Thomason said. He described it as a north-south runway that looked like two straight dirt paths that accommodated the wheels for take-offs and landings.

April 26, 2001: The entire community is invited the grand opening of the new Brownwood Regional Airport Terminal at 2 p.m. Friday.  The project to construct a new airport terminal, which has been underway for over a year, is a project equally funded between the Brownwood Economic Development Corporation and the Texas Department of Transportation's Aviation Division.  The new 4,000 square foot masonry terminal was designed by GRW Willis Architects of Arlington and includes terminal space for Big Sky Airlines and a waiting area.  The general aviation terminal will also be located inside.  It will include a conference room, pilots lounge and rest area.  The city will also be adding 4,400 square feet of space to the existing terminal building to accommodate Federal Express in relocating their local shipping hub here.

July 11, 2002:  Air Midwest, a subsidiary of Phoenix, Arizona, based Mesa Air Group, will replace Big Sky Airlines as the commuter airline serving Brownwood.  Air Midwest will provide 18 round trips per week between Brownwood and Dallas/Fort Worth.  The contract is for a two-year period.

August 27, 2002: Big Sky Airlines will make it final flight out of Brownwood on September 30, and the carrier taking Big Sky's routes in Texas and six other states – Mesa Airlines – will begin service here on October 1, officials said.  Like Big Sky, Mesa will provide round-trip flights between Brownwood and Dallas-Fort Worth.  Mesa will operate the 19-seat Metroliner.  Mesa Air Group spokeswoman Benet Wilson said the Beachcraft, while it has the same number of seats, is roomier.  The airline is actually named Air Midwest, a subsidiary of the Phoenix, Arizona-based Mesa Air Group.  Wilson said Air Midwest, however, will fly as Mesa Airlines.
April 3, 2003: Passengers who board Mesa Airline commuter flights at Brownwood Regional Airport will see federal baggage screeners in the passenger terminal starting in mid-May or early June. The increased security will not affect general aviation planes and pilots.

February 1, 2004: Mesa Airlines has more than doubled the fares of its flights between Brownwood and Dallas-Fort Worth in a bid to boost the sagging revenues generated by it lightly-loaded commuter planes.  Beginning last Thursday, fares booked less than three days in advance jumped from $74 to $159 one way and from $150 to $320 round trip.  Brownwood-DFW flights are 10 percent to 20 percent filled.  Mesa operates 19-seat Beechcraft 1900 twin-engine turbo prop planes on the Brownwood-DFW route.

January 24, 2005: Two men were killed Saturday in a place crash near Brownwood were Dallas doctors experienced in organ transplants. Dr. Paulose Mathai, 50, and Dr. Karl Robert Brinker, 58, died after the small plane flown by Mathai hit a power line and crashed into a strand of trees before catching fire.  The two practiced at Methodist Health System where Mathai was a lung specialist and Brinker a kidney specialist.  The crash occurred as the plan approached Brownwood Regional Airport about 7 a.m. Saturday, January 22.

January 31, 2005: Mesa is expected to discontinue service here in coming weeks after a transition period to another airline is completed in two Oklahoma communities, where subsidies were not withdrawn. Mesa, the airline which for two years has been providing daily passenger flights between Brownwood and DFW International Airport, has been receiving almost $1 million annually for the government to fly the route.  Brownwood was eliminated form the program because the ratio of passengers to the subsidy exceeded the established regulatory level of $200, which means the passenger count was too low.

March 12, 2005: Mesa Airlines made its last flight out on Brownwood. Mesa left Brownwood when the federal government eliminated Brownwood form the Essential Air Service subsidy, saying the route didn't generate enough passengers.

July 20, 2005:  Mike Wilson's last day as manager of the Brownwood Regional Airport.  He started work at the airport as age 21, mowing the grass and cleaning the toilets, and ended up running the place.  He was promoted to airport assistant manager at age 25 and to manager at age 41.  He has worked for the past 25 years at the airport.  He is taking the job as operations manager of the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport.

September 21, 2005: The Brownwood Regional Airport's new T-hangar project has been completed, and some planes are already in the hangars, Assistant City Manager James Cook said Tuesday.  Planes were moved in beginning September 9.  An Abilene construction company completed construction of the hangars more than a year ago, but they weren't ready for occupancy because other work needed to be completed, including the paying of an asphalt ramp around the hangars.  A design flaw that was discovered after construction began included an additional $87,000 in additional to the $520,000 loan from the Brownwood Economic Development Corp.

December 12, 2006:  the pilot of an Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter told investigators there was a sudden explosion before the engine totally lost power, followed by a forced landing in a field on near the Brownwood airport on November 26.  The three-member crew – pilot, paramedic and flight nurse – escaped injury but the helicopter landed hard and was substantially damaged, the NTSB said.

September 20, 2007:  Brownwood Regional Airport Manager Sharlette Bain is working to spread the word about "what a nice airport we have."  Bain, who has been the airport's manager for nearly two years, is ramping up efforts to market the facility.  About 56 planes are based at the airport, which has a staff of six including Bain.

May 13, 2009: National Guard soldiers from North Carolina work on a storm-damaged Apache Longbow helicopter Monday at the Brownwood Regional Airport.  One helicopter was blown over in Friday's storm, and numerous others were damaged when their rotor blades flopped around in the high winds, soldiers said.

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