Mission Trails Historic Sites

Friday, August 28, 2015

Stinson Airport

The National Register of Historic Places-listed Stinson Airport is the second oldest continuously operated airport in the United States and the oldest west of the Mississippi. It was established in 1915 as the Stinson School of Flying by siblings Marjorie, Katherine, and Eddie Stinson who leased 500 acres from the City of San Antonio just south of town. In 1912, Katherine Stinson became the fourth American woman to earn a pilot’s license and inspired her family, including her mother, to become involved in aviation. The family moved to San Antonio from Arkansas prior to the First World War after opening the Stinson Aviation Company in Hot Springs. Katherine, who was a stunt pilot, and her siblings taught flying to civilians until 1917 when the Stinson Flying School was taken over by the federal government and later by the City of San Antonio to train pilots during World War I (Clark et al 1975).

The flying field was returned to civilian duty in 1919 and renamed the Municipal Airport. During the following years, the airport was primarily used by stunt and experimental pilots until 1928 when it began offering flight services for commercial mail and passenger flights through private companies. In 1935, workers involved with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) constructed a four-story main terminal building that is still in use today. The building has a fieldstone veneer that is commonly seen in WPA buildings and features two 2008 additions.

Other historic buildings which are still standing at Stinson include several hangers dating from the 1920s to the 1940s (Clark et al 1975; Preuss 1994).

During World War II the airport was once again taken over by the United States government and utilized as a military training base. More than 100 barracks, training facilities, and other buildings (some of which still stand), were constructed by the military at Stinson Field and across Roosevelt Avenue at what is now Stinson Park. After the war, San Antonio International Airport was established in the north part of the city, and commercial airlines ceased to fly out of Stinson (Preuss 1994; Harris et al 2011).

Following the end of World War II, the field reverted to private use and is still used today as a recreational and commercial airfield. For more information regarding the history of Stinson Municipal Airport, see the City of San Antonio’s Stinson Municipal Airport website at the link: and the Texas Transportation Museum’s website on civilian aviation history in San Antonio. Additionally, see the National Park Service’s website for a brief history of the airport.


  • Clark, John, Adan Benavides, Dan Scurlock, and Dana Isham

    1975 - National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form, Mission Parkway, Prepared by Texas Historical Commission, State Archeologist’s Office.

  • Harris, Brandy, Amy McWhorter, Kelley Russell, and Casey Hanson

    2011 - Historic Resources Reconnaissance Survey Report, “Mission Trails” Enhancement Project, Package V Final Hike-and-Bike Trail Amenities, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. TxDOT San Antonio District. Document No. 100231.PBS&J, Austin, Texas.
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