We Are... The TPA is a
nonprofit General Aviation (GA) organization of both pilots and
non-pilots who are committed, first and foremost, to preserving and advancing GA
in the whole of the great State of Texas, then the U.S., to be followed by the rest of the world, via
forging relationships and supporting sibling interest groups in their respective
and relating domains (GA citizens)... The passion for flight, aviation, and aerospace has no boundaries
are a Texan, a resident of our state or a visitor and
tourist, you will find that this website of ours will touch on many of your
interests and serve as a guide and a resource of useful information ranging from
topics about GA and education to tourism in Texas.
Education & Preparation...
One of our primary goals continues to be: proactively encouraging and supporting
education in all fields that cater to GA and Advanced GA with emphasis -when possible- on
traditional schooling programs from the early years of schooling to high school
levels, in order to attract and facilitate the better preparation of
generation of Texan aviation/aerospace pioneers and enthusiasts.
This goal will be accomplished through:
Setting-up after school
programs that relate to GA in areas that exhibit serious interest and such a
school science and mathematics tutoring programs;
Membership in The Texas
Pilots Association's "Young Aviator Council" which will also help chosen
members to develop and hone their leadership skills as well as their knowledge
of GA and its related fields;
GA related competitions lead
by The TPA, its partners, and sponsors.
Promoting GA via educational materials and organizations, social
and traditional media outlets, and organized events... Demonstrating that GA is
as exciting as it is!
Delivering easily and safely accessible and interesting
information about GA via our website and other TPA media;
Sponsoring "discovery flights" via our
VIP Wing and partner flight schools;
Providing scholarships and grants;
Providing tours of GA related businesses and industries with
their cooperation and hosting to demonstrate the diversity of the industry and
its impact on us from the individual base to the overall economy of the nation
and the world.
GA... The Texas Pilots Association is a proud supporter of
environmental friendly operations, and it is our goal to actively encourage
environmental conservation within the GA fields and industries in the state,
starting with the integration of such concepts in our own internal programs, and
then supporting and collaborating with environmental interest groups to educate Texans on the value of such a mind-set.
This goal will be accomplished through:
Partnership with environmental groups and utilizing their
experience and research, with emphasis on supporting and educating the GA
industry and practitioners about best and most cost effective practices;
Sponsoring relating events, and publicly recognizing those
entities that make significant improvements in their practices which will
contribute to the well-being and preservation of our state's natural resources
and environment, through our "Black Hawk Environmental Stewardship Award," named
after the endangered Texas bird, the Common Black Hawk.
Demo of the "Black Hawk Environmental Stewardship Award"
The Texas Pilots Association's VIP Wing aims
to lead Texas General Aviation (GA) in serving our State, and the nation, by
providing support -through our membership- for community and educational efforts
, emergency events, humanitarian causes and "flights of compassion", also to
augment law enforcement and search & rescue efforts -when requested, and
supporting legislative issues of significant impact on our over-all goals.
Click here to learn more.
You Can Make A Difference...
welcome you to join us in our efforts, and spread the word about us too; you can
make a positive difference, so, what is stopping you? Let us see if we can help
remove the chocks and get your wheels rolling!... contact
us, or support us by donating.
? The Texas Pilots Association
Do you get a chill when you hear a
plane or spaceship throttling-up for take-off?
Do you get a high from the odor of
combusted aviation fuel, and the sight or sound of an aircraft or spacecraft?
Do you feel at home at an airport
Do you look up at the sky and
stare in amazement when you hear a plane fly above you, until it disappears from
Do you recognize the livery of
almost every airline, even when in flight?
Do you recognize the steps of the
landing procedure -when you are a passenger on a plane- from the flare to
touchdown, and do you T-minus countdown the seconds before the undercarriage
touches the ground, brakes are applied, thrust reverse and spoilers are engaged?
Do you recognize the make and
model of almost every aircraft in service, including war-birds?
Do you not discriminate against a
nationality or manufacturer of an aircraft as long as it is safe to fly?
Do you dream of designing or
building your own plane?
Do you love repairing and
Do you dream of flying or going to
space, because you have not yet?
Do you pilot an aircraft or
Have you ever dreamt of being a
pilot or an astronaut-commander/pilot?
Do you love scuba diving?
If you do any of these things,
most likely you
belong with us!
General aviation (GA) is
of the two categories of civil aviation. It refers to all flights both private
and commercial that are other than military and scheduled airline or regular
General aviation flights range from lighter than air crafts, gliders and powered
parachutes to large, non-scheduled cargo jet flights and
suborbital flights. The majority of the
world's air traffic falls into this category, and most of the world's airports
serve general aviation exclusively.
General aviation is particularly popular in North America, with over 6,300
airports available for public use by pilots of general aviation aircraft (around
5,300 paved airports in the U.S., with over 790 of all types
listed in Texas, and over 1,000 paved airports in
Canada). In comparison, scheduled flights operate from around 600 airports in
the U.S. GA accounts for 1.3 million jobs in professional services and
General aviation covers a large range of activities, both commercial and
non-commercial, including private flying, flight training, air ambulance, police
aircraft, aerial firefighting, air charter, bush flying, gliding, skydiving, and
many others. Experimental aircraft and suborbital
spacecraft, light-sport aircraft and very light jets
have emerged in recent years as new trends in general aviation.
"Been flying, train-riding, automobiling, horseback and buggy
riding over Texas for thirty-three years and I've never seen a tenth if it"
First Flight in Texas...
As early as the 1860's, balloonists in Texas took
to the air in experiments that seemed to defy the laws of gravity. Within a
few years, however, these early efforts in aviation were directed toward the
development of winged craft.
Even today, claims persist
that Texas inventor Jacob F. Brodbeck became the world's first aviator.
According to legend, he flew his "air-ship" on September 20, 1865--almost
forty years before the Wright brother's famous flight at Kitty Hawk, North
Carolina. Brodbeck's flight allegedly took place about three miles east of
Luckenbach. According to reports, the flight ended in an unfortunate
landing which destroyed the craft but left Brodbeck without serious injury.
After the Wright brothers' controlled
airplane flights in 1903, aeronautical progress generally was slow until
1909?10, when European aviation made rapid strides and the United States
government acquired its first aircraft. Aerial demonstrations proliferated
at sites across America, including Houston, where a Frenchman, Louis Paulhan,
made the first airplane flight in the state on February 18, 1910 (see image
below). Flights in other Texas cities soon followed, and some Texans began
building their own airplanes. Records of many of these projects are often
imprecise, but one of the earliest Texans to fly appears to have been L. L.
Walker, of Houston. He apparently flew his aircraft, a Bleriot monoplane,
during October and November 1910. Several airplanes and fliers were active
around the state before World War I, and at least two women, Marjorie and
Katherine Stinson, of San Antonio, became well-known pilots.
First 'official' Flight in Texas. A small crowd
is delighted after witnessing the first aeroplane flight in Texas. Frenchman
Louis Paulhan completed the demonstration in South Houston on Feb. 18, 1910,
a few years after the Wright brother's famous flight.
(image -Lone Star Junction)
Military aviation had already begun to develop in Texas. Lt. Benjamin
Foulois, a colorful pioneer pilot, arrived at Fort Sam Houston in February
1910, assembled the army's recently purchased Wright biplane, and took to
the air on March 2, 1910. Three years later the newly established First Aero
Squadron, with nine airplanes, was assigned to Texas City. After serving in
other states, the First Aero returned to Texas in 1916 to support Gen. John
J. Pershing in his pursuit of Francisco (Pancho) Villa into Mexico.
In 1917 American entry into World War I brought the first of many
military flight schools to Texas, where students appreciated the level
terrain and year-round flying weather. In addition to Kelly and Brooks
fields in San Antonio, facilities throughout the state trained thousands of
fliers, mechanics, and other aviation personnel and established a legacy of
military aviation. Texans such as Wiley Post, Howard Hughes, and Douglas
"Wrong Way" Corrigan posted records and made headlines during the 1930s.
These events dramatized the role of aircraft in reducing time and distance
and made Texans more inclined to utilize airplanes in a state where
distances were vast and centers of population were far removed from each
other and from other urban areas of the United States.
The first commercial line to serve Texas was National Air Transport, one
of the private companies incorporated to take advantage of the Air Mail Act
of 1925. On May 12, 1926, a National plane left Love Field in Dallas and
headed for Chicago with the first air mail; passenger service was added in
the fall of 1927.
Braniff Airways, a regional carrier started by Thomas
Elmer Braniff, made Love Field its principal operations and maintenance base
in 1934 and eventually moved its home office from Oklahoma to Love Field, in
1942. Under the guidance of Cyrus R. Smith, of Austin, American Airlines
routes through Dallas not only bolstered the area's reputation but also
offered Texans rapid transportation to commercial centers on both coasts.
Pan American offered international service from Brownsville to Latin
Having a meal on Braniff Airways
As a major agricultural state, Texas became a lively area of activity for
crop dusters. Many operations like rice farming used aerial seeding,
fertilizing, and dusting against insects. The rapid growth of surveying for
oil leases in the booming Texas oilfields propelled Tobin Aerial Surveys of
San Antonio into early prominence in the new industry of aerial photogrammetry. Around the "oil patch," with widely scattered operations and
a lack of convenient all-weather roads, planes became standard tools of the
trade for both corporations and wildcatters in a business noted for its
During World War II geography and climate again made Texas a center for
aeronautical training. The base at Corpus Christi became the world's largest
naval air-training station; Randolph Field was the army air force's "West
Point of the Air." At Avenger Field in Sweetwater, the Air Force carried out
training for WASPS, the Women's Air force Service Pilots, who flew thousands
of warplanes from factories to airfields, towed aerial targets, and
performed other functions. Some forty military fields in Texas turned out
45,000 pilots, 25,000 bombardiers, and 12,700 navigators. Moreover, the
state became a major aircraft manufacturer; new plants employed thousands of
workers. During the war years, two companies in Dallas and Fort Worth alone
employed some 70,000 men and women who built 50,000 aircraft. Refineries in
Texas were principal suppliers for high-octane gasoline used by Allied
aircraft in every combat theater of the world.
In the postwar years, the general aviation
sector (agricultural, business, and personal flying) rapidly developed
throughout the state. As Texas industry grew, many businesses saw the need
for rapid air travel to distant business centers from coast to coast.
Scheduled air transport did not always offer convenient and timely
schedules; for these reasons, business and corporate flying rapidly
increased. In agriculture the long growing season and broad fields favored
the development of such specialized agricultural aircraft as the
trend-setting AG-1 at Texas A&M University, and Texas became a world leader
in the design and production of such airplanes. Along the Gulf Coast, dozens
of helicopters made their runs to offshore oil rigs, carrying relief crews,
mail, groceries, repair parts, and myriad other cargos. In sprawling cities,
especially in rush hours when accidents frequently occurred, the versatility
of helicopters as ambulances was invaluable
Southwest Airlines' Lone Star One aircraft
However, it was the growth of scheduled air travel that necessitated new
urban airports. Houston Intercontinental opened in 1969; Dallas-Fort Worth
Regional Airport opened in 1974. The convenience of air travel attracted
much new business to the state. The airlines serving Dallas-Fort Worth,
Houston, and other major cities reflected the revolution in aeronautics
since 1945. Piston-engined transports gave way to jets in the 1960s,
including long-range jumbo jets capable of nonstop flights to Europe from
both DFW and Houston. In times past, when a European visit required at least
two or three weeks of sailing on ocean liners, only the very wealthy could
afford such luxuries of time and expense. The jets, with rapid travel and
lower fares, brought a democratization of foreign and domestic travel.
In the mid-1980s Texas listed some 60,000 licensed pilots and 25,000
registered aircraft. There were 250 airline aircraft based in Texas, and
fifty-five different airline companies served the state. But these numbers
represented only a small part of the aerospace industry in Texas. Numerous
military air bases annually pumped billions of dollars into the state's
economy. The United States Air Force Air Training Command, headquartered at
Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, trained more Air Force pilots than
any other facility. The Naval Air Station at Corpus Christi was the second
largest naval aviation center in the free world. After 1945 the Dallas-Fort
Worth area, a major military complex, turned out bombers, fighters, and
helicopters, as well as missile components and advanced electronics. Because
these products played such a significant role in world affairs, such as the
multinational production and sales agreements for the General Dynamics F-16
fighter, the aerospace industry helped keep Texans attuned to international
economics and politics.
Texas, a Titan in Space Travel
Then, we have Advanced General Aviation...
America's path to outer space has always gone through Texas. Texas'
connection to the space program can be traced to the sprawling ranch in
Clear Lake that became the headquarters for what was first called the Manned
The complex was renamed the Johnson Space Center after Texas-born President
Lyndon B. Johnson died in 1973. Johnson was President J. F. Kennedy's point
man for the space program when the nation was set on the course to reach the
moon before the 1960s ended.
One of the currently active commercial spaceports in Texas is "Corn Ranch"
which is a spaceport in the West Texas town of Van Horn, where flight tests
of the New Shepard are carried out by Blue Origin on the 165,000-acre (670
km?) land parcel. The first flight test took place on November 13, 2006 with
the goal of providing commercial tourist flights.
On April 11, 2011, Texas lawmakers approved a bill that would limit the
liability that private space travel companies face to boosting Commercial
Space Travel. Under the legislation, people who sign up for rides on a
private space flight would assume the risk of death or injury by signing a
waiver. The companies would still be liable for gross negligence or damage
to non-participants, officials said.
Quoting Samuel (Sam) Houston, first President of the Republic of Texas:
"When Texas united her destiny with that of the United States, she entered
not into the North or South; her connection was not sectional, but
national", and with that my friends comes a responsibility to succeed uniquely
where others may have the option to miss the touchdown zone and make a go
around -unless absolutely necessary.
And us... The Texas Pilots
Association... simply, a continuation to history, and a beginning of a future...