“This flying field was right next to the Rice fence,” 1918

Over the years I’ve come across a number of tantalizing hints about an airport or maybe just a landing strip on or very near the Rice campus back in the late teens and 1920s. Here’s one of the most interesting, a page from the 1920 Owl Calendar. We talked about this a while back but unsurprisingly never could reach a conclusion about the location of this particular facility or whether there had ever been any landing field close to campus:

A couple days ago I accidentally found the answer. I was looking at the transcript of an interview done by Ray Watkin Hoagland (later Strange) with Gaylord Johnson ’21 ’23 ’25 back in 1978, just kind of happily reading along about the streetcars and Tony Martino and all the usual stuff about the early days. Then I saw this:

So there you have it. And don’t even get me started about that stubborn Captain Baker.

It also somewhat belatedly dawned on me that the incredible Anderson Aeronautical Collection located just steps away from my desk might also be of some help. And indeed here is a little snippet from the April 15, 1924 Aeronautical Bulletin Route Information Series–essentially visual directions–that explain what to look for if you’re trying to fly from Dallas to Houston and back. So, is this the same field or a different one?

Bonus: Now this is clever.

 

 

 

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5 Responses to “This flying field was right next to the Rice fence,” 1918

  1. Michael Bludworth says:

    Thank’s for this, Melissa. This is the first I’ve read about there being a hangar or other dedicated structures – that makes it an official “airport” and more than a “field”. They were talking about South Main Street/Main Street/Edwards Airport which was down Main about where the Super Target is now. Main Street Airport would last until 1952 and was a competitor for the City airport contract in 1937.As far as I can tell the “Rice Aviation Grounds” were around until about 1927 when that area was sold. I’ve attached an old advertisement for West U. that I think you sent me some time ago.Anytime you find “old” airport info – Rice or Houston in general – please forward it to me post haste! …I’d like better scans of those pictures! Thanks for posting! Michael BludworthHouston’s Aviation History

  2. Tiki Owl says:

    I was told by several older friends of my parents that as youngsters and young teens of going to a grass landing strip near where the Shamrock would be and watching some of the early barnstormers.

  3. Karen says:

    Here’s a website I found about the Main Street Airport, and it even includes a picture of an ad for the Rice Flying Club.
    http://www.airfields-freeman.com/TX/Airfields_TX_HoustonS.htm#maintst

  4. William Watson says:

    Ha ha ha! The aerial photo of the South Main Airport shows a neighborhood of streets with a familiar layout. Our family lived on one of them when my father was working on his PhD in 1963-66, at 8515 Hatton. Walter Orvedahl and family lived only a block or two away at that time. When I was at Rice, some friends of mine (Mark Linimon, David Buckhold, et al) lived in that same neighborhood in the early 80s. The first time I visited them, something struck me about the house. I realized it had the exact same floor plan as the one we lived in when I was a toddler over 15 years earlier.

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