A CENTURY OF AVIATION
A Passion for Flying
It all goes back to the year 1915, when three siblings and two passions all came together to create the Stinson School of Flying. The people were Marjorie, Katherine and Eddie Stinson. All three had a passion for flying, but Katherine had a passion for music as well, and, as fate would have it, a newspaper article somehow managed to tie together those two loves. The article said that barnstorming pilots or exhibition pilots were earning $1,000 dollars a show. “Katherine 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.
So 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.