Abandoned Airfields in the Texas Panhandle Hold Stories of Days Past
The Texas Panhandle holds so much history in the top 28 counties of Texas. It's amazing what these Texas Plains have seen. Things that once were an important piece of our towns no longer exist except in fading memories and pictures.
One of those historical memories includes the number of airfields that once lived in the Texas Panhandle. Amarillo used to have a military base in town and several airfields, plus many other air force bases were located across the Texas Panhandle.
This was the very first Amarillo airport. It was located where Julian Blvd is now. If you have ever wondered why Julia Blvd is the only street in Amarillo to have medians, this is why. April 27, 1918, is the first recorded plane landing in Amarillo and that was at 500 S. Polk, which at the time was a pasture. It was two Army Signal Corps planes, they refueled at the corner of NE 4th and N. Polk and then took off. It was after this that the Panhandle Air Service and Transportation Co. was created and Bivins Field was opened. It stayed open until 1926.
Amarillo Old Municipal Airport
The Amarillo Municipal Airport was opened on May 29, 1929. It is shown on the map above in 1945. This airport was located 4 miles west of the current Rick Husband International Airport. The Amarillo International Airport closed in 1951.
According to the Historical Marker that was once on display, it read:
Regular air service to Amarillo was inaugurated May 29, 1929, at Old Municipal Airport, 4 miles west of here. It was initiated by Western Air Express, using a 12-passenger Fokker trimotor plane flying round trip from Los Angeles to Amarillo. This was the first segment of transcontinental air service, a tribute to the city and leaders who had worked to build the airport and secure air service.
Transcontinental air transport launched on July 7, 1929, the first continuous, regularly-scheduled air passenger and mail service from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Its route had been surveyed by Charles Lindbergh soon after his 1927 world-record solo flight from New York to Paris. He and his wife and other celebrities were honored guests of Amarillo on that first transcontinental commercial flight.
Reorganizations of companies originally flying commercial schedules to Amarillo resulted in the formation of Trans-World Airlines (TWA), now holding the record for longest service to this area.
English Field, opened by Harold English in 1929, began handling commercial air traffic in 1930. In 1952 it was renamed Amarillo Air Terminal, and now handles the flights of six major airlines. (1966)
Did you know that KFDA (aka News Channel 10) had an airstrip? The legendary Dan True is the reason that they had an airstrip. Dan was a former military pilot and moonlighted as a crop duster. Rumor had it he would fly to work as well as use his pilot skills to get video or film for stories, such as fires, when no other news media was able to secure that type of footage. He was also able to use the plane and radar to determine the weather events as well.
You can still see faint traces of the runways from satellite imagery.
Dalhart Airforce Base #1 and #2
Dalhart has two airforce bases Hartley Field which was to the west of Dalhart and Dallam Field, which was to the northeast of Dalhart.
They were training bases for the US Army between 1943 and 1945. They were built after important men in the community petitioned the Army Air Corps to build a training base.
They were both closed between 1950 and 1960. However, in recent years the Dallam Field is now Miller Field. They hold airshows every few years at Miller Field.
Twitty Intermediate Air Field
Twitty was located Northeast of Shamrock. The airfield was opened around 1942. It has 4 sod runways. The airfield was abandoned sometime before 1954.
Pampa Army Air Force Base
According to the Historical Marker:
In the early 1940s Pampa Mayor Fred Thompson and a delegation from the city's Chamber of Commerce traveled to Washington, D.C. to promote this area as a possible site for a military base. Attracted by the terrain, climactic history, available land and community response, Army officials chose this site for the establishment of an installation to train pilots and support personnel for World War II.
Construction of the Pampa Army Air Force Base began in June 1942, under the direction of the Tulsa, Oklahoma office of the Corps of Engineers. Overseeing the initial stages of the operation was Col. Norman B. Olsen. Temporary offices were set up in the Rose Motor Company and Culberson-Smalling buildings in town. Col. Daniel S. Campbell became the commanding officer in September 1942, and within two months the first planes and aviation cadets had arrived.
The Pampa Army Air Force Base closed September 30, 1945, after just three years of operation. During that time 6,292 aviation cadets and 3,500 mechanics were trained. The base's safety record was one of the best in the U.S. Training Command during World War II. Despite a brief history, the base had a dramatic impact on the development of the Pampa area.
It's fascinating to know that these once-great airfields are no longer but they impacted our history. Here's the Oklahoma City Sectional Aeronautical Chart that shows of a lot of the airfields in our area that once existed in 1945.
Photos of the Dalhart Air Show
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