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Sunday, November 28, 2021

The airline flying out of Kerrville's Louis Schreiner Field, 1950s

Trans-Texas Airways plane, 1950s.
Click on any image to enlarge.

Among the many treasures recently given to me recently by Sandy and Jon Wolfmueller was a small printed program for the inauguration of a new service for Kerrville, when “scheduled airline service” began at Kerrville’s Louis Schreiner Field on January 2, 1954.
It’s true, Gentle Reader: an airline used to fly out of Kerrville’s airport.
January 2, 1954
“Throng expected for Trans-Texas Inauguration,” the Kerrville Times announced in a front-page story published December 31, 1953.
“Trans-Texas Airways will inaugurate service to Kerrville, Texas, located in the ‘Heart of the Hill Country’ on January 2, 1954.
“Airport ceremonies officially signalizing the city’s first scheduled airline passenger, mail, freight and express service will begin at 9:59 a.m. with TTA’s inaugural flight from Houston, Victoria, and San Antonio.”
The airline offered regular flights to San Antonio, Houston, and Fort Worth. Other destinations (after several connections) included Beaumont, Dallas, and Victoria.
The celebration on that January afternoon was led by Dr. Andrew Edington, president of Schreiner Institute, who was the event’s master of ceremonies. The Tivy High School band provided music, and there were speeches by Kerrville’s mayor, Dr. J. L. Bullard; the president of the Kerrville Chamber of Commerce, Joe Pacheck; and a principal address by O. C. Fisher, who represented Kerrville in the U. S. House of Representatives. Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker also attended; at the time he was chairman of the board at Eastern Airlines.
Guests and officials were offered four ‘special courtesy flights’ in the airline’s 26-seat DC-3 “Super Starliner’ at the conclusion of the program.
According to the Kerrville Times story, Kerrville was the 38th ‘station’ in the Trans-Texas system covering Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee. 
“The new Kerrville service completes a needed link in the TTA system, so that flights from Mission-McAllen-Edinberg, Harlingen and Corpus Christi will connect at San Antonio with the flight serving Kerrville.”
Ad from 12/31/53
Kerrville Times
The newspaper was a little giddy about the new airline service. 
“With the inauguration of scheduled air service into Kerrville…every major city in the nation will be less than 12 flying hours away. It is as easy to fly to Los Angeles as to Dallas.”
Fares listed in the event program offered flights from Kerrville to Dallas/Ft. Worth for $18.06; a round-trip would cost $34.39. Houston was a little more, with one-way priced at $18.75, and a round-trip at 35.65. San Antonio flights were very inexpensive: $4.03, one-way; $7.71 round-trip.
Children up to the age of 2 traveled free; between ages 2 and twelve, the fare was half-price. The program suggests inquiring about the “Family Fare Plan” to “Save Real Money.”
What started with such fanfare lasted until 1959, when the service was discontinued “because there were not sufficient enplanings to justify maintaining a stop here,” according to a January 3, 1960 editorial in this newspaper. The airline was still advertising flights as late as December 15, 1959.
Scheduled airline service lasted about 6 years in Kerrville. Loss of the service was a blow to the community’s self-confidence. Several transportation options were discussed in a series of local newspaper editorials, including the building of Interstate 10.
Around 1969, Trans-Texas Airways became Texas International Airlines. In 1982, Texas International merged with Continental Airlines.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who spent a lot of time at Kerrville’s Louis Schreiner Field when his mother, Pat Herring, had her pilot’s license. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 27, 2021.

My coffee-table history books on Kerr County make great Christmas gifts.  Free shipping. Click here for more information. Each book filled with over 100 historic photos.

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