Backstory and Context
Established by the Stinson family of aviation pioneers, Stinson Airport has witnessed the history of aviation since its inception in 1916. A native of Alabama, Katherine Stinson convinced Chicago flight instructor Max Lillie to take her on as a student in 1912. Katherine became the fourth licensed female pilot in the US and began touring as a stunt pilot.
Her family—including her mother, a sister, and two brothers—established the Stinson Aviation Company in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Both her sister and brothers were pilots as well. In 1913, Max Lillie convinced the Stinson family to move to San Antonio where the army had granted him permission to use the grounds at Fort Sam Houston. Katherine and her sister, Marjorie, almost immediately began offering instruction to US and Canadian military pilots. The family leased 500 acres of this land from San Antonio in 1916 and established Stinson Field.
In the 1930s, commercial airlines began using the airport and construction of a new terminal building was administered under the Works Progress Administration. It once again became an Army Air Corps training facility during WWII but was returned to civilian use after the war.
Katherine and Marjorie Stinson. National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Accessed December 19, 2016. https://airandspace.si.edu/multimedia-gallery/3973640jpg.