A Century of Aviation
A Passion for Flying
It started in 1915, when three siblings and two passions came together to create the Stinson School of Flying. Marjorie, Katherine and Eddie Stinson had a passion for flying, but Katherine had a passion for music as well, and, as fate would have it, a newspaper article managed to tie the two loves together. The article said that barnstorming pilots or exhibition pilots were earning $1,000 dollars a show. “So she wanted to take that money and go to Europe and eventually study piano and that was her entry into aviation,” according to Aviation Assistant Director Tim O’Krongley.
With a plan in place, Katherine got to work in starting the school. Eddie Stinson, her brother, selected a plot of land south of town just west of the San Antonio River. Her sister, Marjorie, went to City Council to petition them to open up the school. City Council rented her 500 acres for $5 per year. It was a good deal, O’Krongley says.
In the years that followed, Katherine made the trip to Europe but it was her love of flying and not her love of music that would take her there. She flew to England, Japan and China, becoming the first woman to perform the loop-the-loop maneuver. She set successive endurance and distance records and raised $2 million dollars for the American Red Cross. Meanwhile, Marjorie and Eddie continued to expand operations at the Stinson School of Flying, teaching civilian students like Jack Frost and pilots from the Canadian Air Force. World War I eventually brought a ban on civilian flying, marking the end of the Stinson School of Flying.
The Boom Years
During World War I and afterwards, the airfield was run by the City of San Antonio. According to O’Krongley, the airport was used primarily by barnstormers and experimental pilots until the late 1920s or early 1930s. For a few years, Stinson served as a commercial airport with airline service from American, Braniff and Eastern Airlines. In 1935/36, a new terminal building was built as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project.
During World War II, the Air Force took control of the airport and utilized it as a training base. The military constructed more than 100 buildings, some of which are still standing. However, after World War II, Stinson’s era of commercial airline service was over as commercial airlines moved to San Antonio International Airport.
Still Growing Strong
Stinson continues to grow. In 2008, a major capital project to expand the terminal was completed. The expansion added two wings and more than 24,000 square feet of additional space for administrative, concession, corporate Fixed-Based Operators, education and commercial uses. Importantly, the expansion left the original terminal virtually untouched.
In 2015, Stinson celebrated its 100-year anniversary and a century of Aviation in San Antonio. Pointing to the next century for Stinson Municipal Airport, construction is complete on a new traffic control tower and operation began in 2019.
Stinson Terminal Map
Plan for the Future
The San Antonio Airport System initiated an update to the Master Plan for the Stinson Municipal Airport. The process began in September 2011 and was approved by City Council on November 15, 2012. The Master Plan assess the need for future facilities that might be required to meet anticipated demand over the next 20 years.
A Planning Advisory Committee (PAC), co-chaired by former Councilman Reed Williams and former Councilwoman Leticia Ozuna, oversaw the development of the Master Plan. The PAC also included Aviation staff, community leaders, airport tenants, Texas Department of Transportation, Southside Chamber, National Business Aviation Association and City South.
This page will be updated periodically throughout the course of the study, with pertinent presentations or documents.