Last Saturday I was perusing, as is my custom, the posts on the Houston’s Aviation History facebook page. (If you’re on facebook this is one of the things that’s actually worth your time.) Much to my delight Story Sloane III had put up a couple of spectacular images of an early Houston area air field. The administrator of the page, Michael Bludworth, immediately identified them as Rice Field. I’ve written about this airfield before, although it took me years to decide that it was a real thing, but I had long since given up hope of finding a photograph of it.
Here’s a view of the hangar and the landing strip looking northeast across the corner of campus:
And here you can see it from the vantage point of the Administration Building over on the other side of the treeline along Harris Gully:
I’ve spent a significant amount of time over the last several days staring at these images. I can’t begin to express my gratitude to both Story, for his efforts to preserve through photographs the history of Houston, and to Michael for making that history accessible. And as I looked at these pictures something began to rattle around in the back of my mind. It took a while but it eventually the memory rattled up to the front.
We have a pretty spectacular aeronautics collection in the Woodson, courtesy of Ben Anderson, which I’ve poked around in for many years. We also have a couple of copies of Charles Lindberg’s 1927 book We, which came out very quickly after his trans-Atlantic flight in 1927:
In one of the early chapters Lindberg relates the story of a barnstorming trip he took during the early spring of 1924. He and a companion left the snowy midwest in a plane called a Canuck, a variant of the Curtiss JN-4, the Flying Jenny. They headed south, hopping from airfield to airfield, constantly worried about a cracked gas tank that had them struggling to rig up ways to carry extra gas. It turns out that one of their stops was right here: