Stinson Field, dating from the latter part of 1915, was San Antonio's first
municipal airport. It has remained in operation since that time, being the
only airport in San Antonio, Texas, for many years. It was established by
the Stinson family of aviation pioneers. Hoping to finance her musical education
with money earned from exhibition flying, Alabama native Katherine Stinson
(1891-1977) convinced famed flight instructor Max Lillie of Chicago to take
her on as a student in 1912. Katherine became the fourth licensed female
pilot in the U.S., began touring as a stunt pilot and became one of the
country's most famous female aviatiors. Her family--mother Emma, sister
Marjorie and brothers Eddie and Jack--established the Stinson Aviation Company
in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Marjorie and Eddie trained at the Wright Flying
School in Ohio and also became pilots (Marjorie becoming the ninth licensed
female pilot in the world). In 1913, Max Lillie encouraged the Stinsons
to move to San Antonio where the army had granted him permission to use
the parade ground at Fort Sam Houston. According to the San Antonio Express
(December 1 and 5, 1915), Marjorie (age 19) and Edward Stinson ran the flying
school, utilizing the drill field at Fort Sam Houston, from 1914 to 1915.
Informal portrait of aviators
Eddie Rickenbacker and Ed Stinson (two on the right) standing with
two unidentified men next to an airplane in a field in Chicago, Illinois
Photo courtesy of Library
of Congress: DN-0074995, Chicago Daily News negatives collection,
Chicago Historical Society
Marjorie Stinson petitioned the City Council to lease land for use as an airport.
Once approved, the family leased 500 acres of farmland from the city in
1916 and established Stinson Field. Marjorie founded the Stinson School
of Aviation, thus being the first woman to own and operate a flying school
in the United States. During its first years in operation, the Stinson family
flying school trained many World War I pilots. After the ban of civilian
flights during World War I, Stinson Field became the city's civil airport
in 1918. Charles Lindbergh kept an airplane and flew
out of Stinson while he was stationed at Brooks Field.
Katherine Stinson, pioneer aviator
Photo courtesy of Library of Congress: DN-0070008, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society
Stinson Field's name was changed for nine years to "Windburn Field"
following the October 15, 1927, airplane crash of reporter, Bill Windburn.
It was into Windburn Field that the first scheduled airmail flight in
San Antonio arrived on February 6, 1928. In the 1930s, commercial airlines
began using the airport and construction of a new terminal building with
Works Progress Administration funds enhanced the facility. On July 15,
1936, the airfield was renamed Stinson Field in commemoration of its original
founders. During World War II it once again became an Army Air Corps training
facility. Returned to civilian use after the war, Stinson Field became
the primary general aviation airport for the city of San Antonio. Part
of Stinson Field was utilized by the National Guard for a couple of years,
accounting for the barracks still present on the southwestern portion
of the field. Although the San Antonio International Airport is the primary
airport in the San Antonio area today, Stinson Field has remained an important
commercial and recreational air center.
Stinson Airport, part of the Mission Parkway, is located at 8535
Mission Rd. in San Antonio, Texas. It is still operated as a general aviation
airport, open during normal business hours. Also located at the air field
is the Stinson Branch of the Texas Air Museum, presenting the history
of flight from the early days of aviation to the present. It is open Monday-Saturday
11:00am to 5:00pm, closed major holidays; there is a fee for admission.
For further information call 210-977- 9885 or visit the museum's website.