Tyler Pounds Airport History
The Early Years in Tyler Aviation
The Tyler City Commission selected O.C. Palmer, a World War I pilot, to head a committee to develop an airport for Tyler. Subsequently, the city purchased 296 acres on the west side of Dixie drive for the site of the airport. Tyler's airport was dedicated on June 28, 1930 as Tyler Municipal Airport. No terminal building existed at that time. It was renamed Rhodes Field in 1934 in honor of Chamber of Commerce Manager Russell Rhodes.
The Air Mail Act of 1925 (the Kelly Act) first regulated the air mail industry, and authorized the postmaster general to contract for air mail service with commercial air carriers and to establish rates. It also created Contract Air Mail routes (CAMs).
Tyler Municipal Airport Dedication, June 28-29, 1930
(Archives of the author)
Later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the contractual system of air mail route awards, via the Air Mail Act of 1934. C. E. Woolman, a crop duster in Louisiana, and owner of the Delta Air Corporation, made the lowest bid for a new route from Dallas, and received the contract.
With only a few crop-dusters in his stable, Woolman purchased six Stinson "T" tri-motors from American Airlines, (formerly American Airways), which was moving up to larger Curtiss and Douglas equipment. Delta then began airmail service in 1934, between Dallas and Monroe Louisiana, via Tyler and Shreveport.
First Flight United States Air Mail - Tyler, The Heart of East Texas
(Archives of the author)
Tyler Aviation in World War II
Passenger Terminal, Tyler Pounds Airport, opened in 1949, replaced in 2002
During World War II, the Tyler air field was leased from the City of Tyler by the U.S. Army Air Forces as a training base and renamed Pounds Field.
It was named in honor of 2nd Lt. Jack W. Pounds, a pilot instructor from Tyler who died in an air crash in 1942 during the early part of World War II while serving in California. He was the first officer from Tyler to die during the war.
When the airport was returned to the city after the end of the war, the name was kept.
The Post-War Aviation Era in Tyler
All mail service and passenger service had been suspended during the war. At the end of the war, in November 1945, the airfield was returned to civilian use under the control of the City of Tyler, and renamed Tyler Pounds Regional Airport.
Airmail and passenger service resumed in February, 1946. In 1949 construction began on a new terminal.
This airline began operations as Huff Daland Dusters, a crop dusting service, in Macon, Georgia in 1924, and moved to Monroe, Louisiana in 1925.
It started carrying passengers in late 1929 over a route from Dallas Love Field to Jackson, Mississippi, via Shreveport and Monroe, using three Travel Air six-seat monoplanes.
As additional planes were delivered from the factory, service was extended eastward to Birmingham, Alabama, and westward to Fort Worth.
Delta reached Atlanta in June 1930. Soon Huff Daland's 18 plane inventory was the largest privately owned fleet in the world.
Delta route map from 1934 showing Tyler
Collett E. Woolman purchased the company in 1928, and renamed it Delta Air Service for the Mississippi Delta region it served, and established headquarters in Monroe.
In 1941 the airline relocated its corporate offices to Atlanta, and was renamed Delta Air lines in 1945.
Delta Air Lines was the first airline company to serve Tyler, and continued to provide air service until 1957.
In 1946, Chicago & Southern Airlines also began service to Tyler, but the company later merged with Delta in 1953.
Mid-Continent Airlines was founded in 1928 in Sioux City, Iowa as Hanford's Tri-State Airlines. After World War II, Mid-Continent expanded service to Shreveport, New Orleans, and Houston. On February 1, 1947, Mid-Continent inaugurated service to Houston from Tyler, as an extension of Air Mail Route 80 using Douglas DC-3s and Lockheed L-18 Lodestars.
By 1954 Braniff Airways (now merged with Mid-Continent), ceased Tyler service.
One of our favorite airlines that served Pounds Airport over the years was Texas' own Trans Texas Airways (TTA). Many of us from that era will recall the airline's nicknames: "Tree Top Airlines" and "Tinker Toy Airlines".
Trans Texas Airways began service to Tyler in 1951, and terminated it in 1977.
Major airports served by TTA included Hobby in Houston, Love Field in Dallas, and Amon Carter Field - Greater Southwest International Airport in Fort Worth.
The company remained under the TTA name until 1969 when it became Texas International Airlines (TIA), and evolved into a regional airline serving 66 cities in 6 states, and Mexico.
The Modern Era in Tyler Aviation
Today, Tyler Pounds Regional Airport has evolved into a state-of-the-art airport providing jet service to cities worldwide via connections in Dallas DFW and Houston Intercontinental Airport.
Completely rebuilt in 2002 at a cost of $17.6 million, the airport features on-site parking, rental car facilities and easy access from various areas of Tyler and East Texas. Tyler Pounds was named 2007 Airport of the Year for the State of Texas by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and serves about 150,000 passengers per year.
Flights are offered to and from Tyler Pounds Airport by American Airlines, with flights to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in the Dallas Metroplex.
Other Tyler Texas Area Airports and Landing Strips
Another World War II vintage air facility was Stewart Airport, located in east Tyler. Several other landing strips were built around the Tyler area as well.
Historic Aviation Memorial Museum (HAMM) in Tyler
For those interested in the history of the airport, and aviation in general, we recommend a visit to the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum (HAMM). This large, regional aviation museum is located at the Tyler Pounds Airport's old passenger terminal building. read more about HAMM
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