North Texas Aviation Landmarks and Historic Sites (Driving Tour)
This is a tour of significant sites realated to the aviaiton heritage of North Texas form 1911 to the present.
Cal Rodgers and the First Transcontinental Flight On October 17, 1911, Cal Rodgers landed his Wright Flyer, the “Vin Fiz,” in John Ryan’s pasture south of downtown. Rodgers left Sheepshead Bay, New York on September 17, 1911, and eventually landed in Pasadena, California on November 5, 1911, to complete the first transcontinental flight. John Ryan’s pasture is now the Ryan Place Neighborhood. The entrance is located at 8th Avenue and Elizabeth Blvd. A local marker in Ryan Place Park at the corner of 5th Avenue and West Bowie Street commemorates the event.
On January 12, 1911, Roland Garros of the Moisant International Aviators made the first powered flight in Fort Worth. The flight occurred at the Fort Worth Driving Park and 17,000 people were on hand to witness the event. The Driving Park was located in an area that is now occupied by the parking lot behind Montgomery Plaza on West 7th Street. A Texas Historical Marker commemorating the event was dedicated in 2014. The marker will be installed in a new Fort Worth city park being constructed at the corner of Carroll Street and Mercedes Avenue which is scheduled to open in 2016. The park is approximately 600 feet west of the first flight location.
During their five-month stay in Fort Worth, Royal Flying Corps Canada lost 39 members due to airplane accidents and other causes. Eleven British, Canadian, and American airmen of the RFC and an infant child who died at the flying fields around Fort Worth are buried here. An American veteran of the RFC was also buried here in 1975. The site is part of the British Commonwealth Graves System - a piece of Fort Worth which will forever be England. A bi-annual remembrance service is held on Memorial Day. The next one will be in 2017 - the 100th anniversary of the site. A Texas Historical Marker is located at the site.
American Airways was formed in 1930 through the consolidation of a dozen smaller regional airlines such as Southern Air Transport, Texas Air Transport, and others. Initially the airline operated through three divisions and in 1933, Amon G. Carter convinced them to move their Southern Division headquarters to Fort Worth.
In 1917 oil was across north-central Texas. A natural by-product of the oil is helium. The United States Army and Navy contracted to build a pipeline that would deliver the helium to Fort Worth for processing for us by US Navy airships or dirigibles. This location is the site of the mooring stations for those airships so they could refuel during cross-country flights. The mooring mast was located on Pylon Street.
In 1918, the Army and Navy conducted experiments in Fort Worth to test the feasibility of extracting helium from natural gas. By 1921, the Navy had built a helium production plant and began a large-scale helium extraction program.