TEXAS 2015
~THE 1940 AIR TERMINAL MUSEUM~

Copyright Ruud Leeuw Photos © R.Leeuw

Visiting Texas in november 2015 for music, aviation- and 'Old West Frontier' history, I had included several air museums in my itinerary.
The '1940 Air Terminal Museum - Houston Municipal Airport' was the first I visited, on nov. 10th, straight from the flight that brought us into Houston Int'l Airport (IAH); we collected our bags and our rental car and we drove to William P. Hobby Airport for a visit.

 

 

1940 Air Terminal Museum
Daylight was already fading when we arrived at the William P. Hobby Airport. Therefor I felt a bit rushed and got
confused because I drove past this building without noticing, looking for vintage aeroplanes, and arrived at a hangar
with a Lockheed Loadstar in front of it - but could not find an entrance. The museum is headquartered in this art-deco
terminal, with the cashier, gift shop and exhibits - staff will escort you to the hangar and the aeroplanes.

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston
The Museum showcases the rich heritage of civil aviation, including the airlines, general aviation and business aviation.
Exhibits include Houston's fascinating aviation history. The terminal and hangar are being restored and
operated by the Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society,

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston
The lounge has been nicely renovated, but one can see that the neighbouring rooms are fixed to 'rough & ready'.
The first phase of the exhibition opened in 2004 and a lot of work has been done since.

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston Municipal Airport

 

 

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston
These rooms have a wealth of information on early Houston operators; for Braniff it dates back to the 1930s.

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston
Braniff holds special meaning for me, for I witnessed it up close and personal in the early 1980s - Braniff Remembered

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston
Very nice display of memorabilia and mannequins.

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston
Braniff Airways (1928 - 1948) was formed by Paul & Tom Braniff, dba Tulsa-Oklahoma City Airline; reorganized in 1930.
Braniff took-over Mid-Continent in 1952 and Panagra in 1967. An attempted take-over by Eastern failed in 1980.
Braniff entered Chapter 11 on 12May1982 and ceased operations; restarts (BN Air, Braniff III, Braniff
Express) were made but never lasted very long. Final conclusion was in 1990. [Source ATDB.aero]

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston
Texas International Airlines Inc. was a US airline, known from 1944 until 1947 as Aviation Enterprises, until 1969
as Trans-Texas Airways (TTa), and as Texas International Airlines until 1982 when it merged with Continental
Airlines. It was headquartered here at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) in Houston. [Source: Wikipedia]

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston
With hubs at Dallas and Houston, Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) was a 'local service' airline, as designated by the federal
Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) in Texas and surrounding states.In August 1953 it operated scheduled flights to 36
airports from El Paso to Memphis. By May 1968 TTa flew to 48 U.S. airports plus Monterrey, Tampico and
Veracruz in Mexico. The airline then changed its name to Texas International and continued to grow.

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston
Southwest is modern history. Houston is a focus city for Southwest Airlines, and was the 7th-largest city in
Southwest's network (as of 2015). Southwest opened its first international terminal at Hobby, it began
service from Hobby to Mexico and Central and South America on October 15, 2015. [Wikipedia]

 

 

 

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
I was taken to the hangar and found myself fortunate to see the Lockheed Lodestar outside. Over the weekend the
museum had hosted a venue, complete with a live band, and made room by taking some of the aircraft outside. Works for me!
The museum regularly organizes events as fund-raisers; when I compiled this in early dec.2015 I noticed on the agenda a
venue starring 'The Manhattan Dolls' on dec.05th and 'Wings & Wheels - Houston Spotters & Museum Volunteer Appreciation
Day' on the 19th. The staff are certainly a busy bunch and impressively innovative!

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
This Lockheed 18 Lodestar N31G was donated to the collection by a local owner and I was told that it
could be made airworthy with a relative simple inspection.

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
Previous identities of c/n 2302 I have as: 42-55897, YS-25, TI-73, C-251, NC4495N, N4495N and N67K.

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
The door is open, a certain invite to have a look inside!

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
Perhaps a crew seat for the cabin attendant?

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
Truly a vip interior, if not for the seats than most certainly for those windows!

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
The Lodestar was built as a C-60A for the military and delivered to the USAAF on 22Dec1942.
The museum has a detailed page on the Lodestar and this C-60A in particular; funding is sought to make it fully airworthy.

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
The front office!

 

What else is there on the ramp..

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
Alas, not in such a good shape this Douglas A-26 Invader. This Invader actually is a movie star, but the glamour has faded.
I thought I had come across N4818E (44-35371 c/n 27400), in 1996 in a hangar at Ephrata,WA. Then I found
out two A-26 Invaders were used in that film, so most likely I saw N4805E #58 (44-34121) at Methow's
hangar; that one ended up with Air Spray at Red Deer (Alberta,Canada) as C-GHZM - see MY 2006 REPORT

This Invader is not included in the collection as described by the museum's website: www.1940airterminal.org/TheHangar/
On FAA's N-inquiry I noticed TB-26C N4818E registered to Marine Aviation Museum (Houston,TX) on 09Mar2012.
I was subsequently informed by the museum: "It does not belong to our museum and is not part of our collection.
It belongs to an individual who hangars next door to us." Michael Bludworth, volunteer at the museum, wrote me in
Dec.2015 that this "..A-26 is operated by the Vietnam War Flight Museum. Obviously not flying at the moment."
More on the Vietnam War Flight Museum on my page dedicated to my visit to The Lone Star Flight Museum, nov. 11th.

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
As the nose art depicts, it featured in a film titled Always, which is a 1989 romantic drama, directed by Steven Spielberg.
It starred Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, John Goodman and Brad Johnson; its also included Audrey Hepburn's final
film appearance. The film was distributed by Universal Studios and United Artists. The two Douglas A-26C's Invaders
from Lynch Air Tankers (A-26C/TB-26C N4818E and A-26C N9425Z; see note below -Webmaster) were prominently
featured in the film; the flying for the movie being performed by well-known movie pilot Steve Hinton
and Dennis Lynch, the owner of the A-26.
[Source: http://napoleon130.tripod.com/id740.html]

The above text confuses me, mentioning N9425Z.
By the Warbird Registry I have for the film Always
A-26 44-34121 (c/n 24700) - N4805E (N4085E), C-GHZM - status: still @Red Deer, see Flickr) - LINK
A-26 44-35371 (c/n 28650) - N4818E - no details on history/location after 2002 - LINK
And then this 3rd candidate comes up, only A-26 on WarbirdRegistry mentioned as used in this film,
A-26 44-35721 (c/n 29000) - N9425Z, reported as in one of the hangars @Chino,CA 14May1995 - LINK
Very confused !?!

After publishing this matter in Dec.2015 on Classic-Propliners forum it was confirmed that 44-35371/N4818E and 44-34121/N4805E (correct N-number) were the two 'Fire Eaters' used in 'Always'.
So involvement of N9425Z in 'Always' is an error or the A-26 may have had other use in that film, e.g. as a camera ship. I have N9425Z photographed and described on my visit to Palm Springs Air Museum 2008.

 

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
This A-26C Invader c/n 28650 first served the military, wearing the serial 44-35371. It has the following
history in civil aviation: to Rock Island Oil & Refining Co. of Wichita,KS (1960-1966), registered as N4818E.
Planned conversion to Monarch 26 was not completed. It was stored instead at Hutchinson,KS.
To Consolidated Air Parts Corp. of Los Angeles,CA in 1967. Sold in 1967 to Denny Lynch of Lynch Air
Tankers (Billings,MT / 1967-2002). Converted to Lynch STOL 26 tanker for use in aerial firefighting.
N4818E flew as tanker #A28 (later #59). Fate struck on 28Jun75 when it was damaged, its nose gear
collapsed on landing at Billings. It was repaired though. [Source: http://napoleon130.tripod.com/id740.html]

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
Hope you may see a return to the skies some day!


The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
In the background is all that remains of Douglas DC-6BF N841TA (c/n 44891).
The other sad appearance is a Compagnie Generale Aeropostale Potez 25 (replica) F-AJDX (see further down).
This website www.deejay51.com/1940_air_terminal.htm shows it in a somewhat better condition (2013?).
The Potez 25 (a.k.a. Potez XXV) was a French twin-seat, single-engine biplane designed during the 1920s -> Wikipedia
Sad to see their open air storage worsen their condition, making restoration probably an illusion.
It is obvious the central mission for the Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society is its 1940 Air Terminal Museum Project.

What I have in my database about DC-6BF N841TA:

Delivered to Canadian Pacific Airlines as CF-CZE 'Empress of Toronto' in jan.1956.
It was converted to DC-6B(F) in 1960.
Bought by World Aws and rereg'd N45502 in Nov61.
Then to Ladeco in 1972, rr CC-CEV, subsequently rereg'd CC-PJG for Cia de Renta la Portena in '79; but its fate was storage Santiago,Chile - for being declared 'without further use'.
Then Atlas Aircraft Corp. bought it in 1979 and thus became N841TA in April 1980.
As such it went to Trans Air Link in Aug82.

At somepoint it had small titles applied, 'Sky Truck', in red beneath the cockpit; this was TAL's radio callsign. N841TA was reported at Miami on 24apr93, still with Trans Air Link; from nov95 - mar96 it had not flown, and so when the socalled Corrosion Corner of MIA was closed, to make way for a commuter runway, N841TA was declared surplus with TAL and was sold to Filair in '97; it subsequently moved to nearby Opa Locka.
I think the airworthiness for N841TA was in serious jeopardy by then.

On 06oct98 it was still at Opa Locka, still with TAL titles and silver livery. Same on 04apr99.
But on 05oct2000 it was sighted at Melbourne,FL. Not long after, it was reported to be for sale, asking US$ 350.000.
On FAA's N-inq page, on 23Oct02, I found for its owner: 'Undeliverable Triennial', Owner: Trans Air Supply Corp R15Feb96.
By Feb.2003 it was subject to scrapping; the engines had gone, may have gone to N70BF operated by Florida Air Transport.
Sadly, when it was offered as a firetrainer to the Rescue Services of Melbourne, it was refused and '41TA was moved to the county trash dump!

By 26Apr03 it was still intact, sans props and engines, but scrapping was scheduled for the summer.
In nov09 the forward fuselage was reported as "propped against a shed or a building".
Then Trans Air Supply Corporation of Melbourne,FL donated the nose and front fuselage (31') of DC-6BF N841TA to The 1940 Air Terminal Museum and as such was delivered to Houston on 31Oct03.
Where it was again stored, as a 'possible future project'.


Rolf Patzner sent me the lowdown on that interesting details on F-AJDX
"Compagnie Generale Aeropostale Potez 25 (replica) F-AJDX:
- this airplane is a film star
- it was purpose built for the first IMAX movie Wings Of Courage 1995
- it has been constructed out of a Grumman Ag Cat
- while on filming it has been once equipped with a prop turbine to cope better with the high altitude
- it was flown by stunt pilot Tom Danaher reference, see last page left below corner:
www.airwork.biz/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Danaher270397s.pdf
"


The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
The Sikorsky S-58B N887 (c/n 58482) is a bit of an odd one here, me thinks.
In my reference guidebook (Aviation Museums and Collections of North America, by Bob Ogden, published
by Air-Britain). I had also listed a Sikorsky S-43 N440, once flown by Howard Hughes; it was expected to join
the collection but probably that deal fell through. The same guidebook listed -erroneously- DC-3 CU-T1192 as well.
www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=359572518322&id=107219770980 - the deal did not come to fruition.

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
My guidebook did not include this fine looking Cessna T-50 Bobcat, N78UC. Indeed a nice surprise.
On FAA's N-inquiry page I found it was registered to Dennis J. Winegarner of New Braunfels,TX; reg'd 28may08.
Michael Bludworth, volunteer at the museum, wrote me in Dec.2015 that this T-50 is on loan to the museum.

 

 

 

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
I was shown to other exhibits: several Flight Similators preserved here.

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston Municipal Airport
Early aviation days. Hobby Airport opened in 1927, as a private landing field in a 600-acre (240 ha) pasture known as
W.T. Carter Field. The airfield was served by Braniff International Airways and Eastern Air Lines.
The site was acquired by the city of Houston and was named Houston Municipal Airport in 1937. [Wikipedia]

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Houston Municipal Airport
I had hoped to see a DC-3 here, a real life-size one, but apparently that info I had was incorrect.

 

 

The 1940 Airt Terminal Museum, Houston
Full Restoration Phase III will see completion of the restoration of the 1940 Air Terminal; it will include full restoration of the Terminal’s floors 2-5, and installation of an elevator and emergency egress stairs.
Once completed, the second floor of the Terminal will be home to the Museum’s Cloud Room restaurant, offering dining inside and outside on the Terminal’s observation decks.
Floors 3-5 will house additional Museum exhibits. The projected budget for Phase III is $1.5 million.

Michael Bludworth, volunteer at the museum, wrote me in Dec.2015:
"Some things to add to your notes: that Lodestar will take quite a bit of work to become airworthy; never say never, but the building is the first priority.
We never had a DC-3 under any circumstances - but (again, sadly) almost got a Martin 404!
The Hughes S-43 you mention too was promised to the Museum, but no paper was ever signed. The owner died and it was stored for 10 years. Two years ago Kermit Weeks purchased it and carted it over to Florida. He says it will fly again - some day!
If you didn't look at our hangar closely you might have missed the forest for the trees!
It's the oldest building on airport property, having been opened in June of 1929! It's a masonry hangar - they don't make 'em like that anymore.
Trans-Texas Airways was formed at our airport and operated out of our building; their first flight was in October of 1947 and they changed their name to Texas International in 1968. Texas International would acquire Continental in 1982 and operate henceforth under that name.
As lease successors there are properties on the airport that have been under contact to the predecessors of United since 1940!
The original field was never, ever named or labeled W.T. Carter Field or anything like that. It was dedicated as the 'Houston Airport' in June of 1927 - a privately owned corporation. The City would purchase it in 1937 and briefly re-name it as 'Howard Hughes Airport' in 1938."

 


 



 

 


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