Houston's Aviation History Timeline
The year is 1950. Air travel has grown exponentially after the end of the war. The City continues to appropriate more and more ramp space from the FBOs and corporate operators in Houston, but the airline traffic continues to outpace the available facilities. Airline flights now arrive in Houston with the benefit of Instrument Landing System (ILS) precision approach equipment. Houston's airport is a gateway to Mexico, Central and South America.
Major Corporations in Houston take advantage of extensive modifications to convert war surplus transports and bombers, including Douglas DC-3s, Lockheed L-18 Lodestars, and Douglas A-26 and B-23 bombers into big, fast and luxurious executive transports which are every bit as capable as the airlines' best equipment. General aviation is still struggling to emerge from the "crash of 48".
Aircraft manufacturers had hoped to convert wartime production capacity into a general aviation renaissance by building new light aircraft for the hundreds of thousands of pilots trained to fly during the war. A recession and a desire on the party of many military pilots to return to more terrestrial pursuits resulted in thousands of unsold airplanes by 1948.
Many long established aircraft makers, as well as aspiring new makers, go out of business or merge to survive. Despite this, in Houston the Anderson-Greenwood Company is working at Sam Houston Airport to create a new four place single it hopes will revolutionize the industry.
J.D. Reed, a former Hooper Oil Company corporate pilot and long-time friend of Walter and Olive Beech, has established a successful fixed base operation (FBO) and one of the country's first Beechcraft dealerships at Houston Municipal Airport. The Cliff Hyde Flying Service FBO and flight school has moved its operation from Houston Municipal to Sam Houston Airport, located south of downtown.
June 1, 1950:
Mid-Continent Airlines adds Convair 240s acquired from Pan American World Airways to its routes.
November 1, 1950:
Continental Airlines inaugurates service to Houston using Douglas DC-3s and Convair 240s.
44,033 airline flights to and from Houston carry 538,399 passengers.
December 17, 1951:
Eastern Airlines inaugurates Lockheed L1049 Super Constellation service on its routes.
December 20, 1951:
Eastern Airlines inaugurates Martin 4-0-4 service on its routes.
46,811 airline flights to and from Houston carry 667,231 passengers.
June 2, 1952:
Pioneer Airlines inaugurates Martin 2-0-2 service on its routes.
August 16, 1952:
Braniff International Airways merges with Mid-Continent Airlines.
November 1, 1952:
Braniff International Airways inaugurates Convair 340 service on its routes.
49,362 airline flights to and from Houston carry 733,798 passengers.
May 1, 1953:
Delta Airlines merges with Chicago & Southern Airlines.
Captain Eddie Rickenbacker celebrates Eastern Airlines' 25th Anniversary with a dinner dance in Houston at Glenn McCarthy's Shamrock Hotel.
51,734 airline flights to and from Houston carry 787,117 passengers.
November 4-5, 1954:
Dedication of new Houston International Airport Terminal. The dedication is marked by a two-day festival. General Ira Eaker is the keynote speaker, the US Navy Blue Angels perform and the public waits in long lines to tour airliners on static display, like Pan American World Airways' Boeing 377 Stratoliner.
53,640 airline flights to and from Houston carry 910,047 passengers.
April 1, 1955:
Continental Airlines and Pioneer Airlines merge.
53,517 airline flights to and from Houston carry 1,065,787 passengers.
October 20, 1956:
Braniff International Airways inaugurates Douglas DC-7C service to Houston from Chicago and Dallas.
December 10, 1956:
Braniff International Airways inaugurates Convair 440 service on its routes.
56,614 airline flights to and from Houston carry 1,223,401 passengers.
September 6, 1957:
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines inaugurates the first European service from Houston with its DC-7C flights from Amsterdam via Toronto.
Continental Airlines inaugurates Vickers 812 Viscount turboprop service on its routes. Continental Viscounts are the first turboprops to serve Houston.
65,102 airline flights to and from Houston carry 1,356,652 passengers.
October 26, 1958:
Pan American inaugurates Boeing 707 service.
65,580 airline flights to and from Houston carry 1,274,760 passengers.
April 26, 1959:
Not yet generally perceived as a Communist dictator, Fidel Castro arrives at Houston International Airport aboard a Cubana Britannia turboprop as part of a tour of the United States and Canada. On departure, the heavily laden Britannia uses all of Runway 3 to become airborne and barely clears the telephone wires at the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Monroe.
September 25, 1959:
King Cruse, a fixed base operator (FBO) and Houston's Cessna dealer, opens a new $325,000.00 business aviation facility at Houston International Airport.
October 1, 1959:
Braniff International Airways inaugurates Lockheed L188 Electra II turboprop service to Houston from Chicago and Dallas.
66,470 airline flights to and from Houston carry 1,374,093 passengers.