1940 Air Terminal Museum
Many Houstonians have never seen or heard of the 1940 Air Terminal Museum. But anyone who has been to Hobby Airport has practically been within arm’s reach of it. Originally known as the Houston Municipal Airport, the single terminal was the city’s first commercial airport. Houston’s population quickly expanded and outgrew the building in 1954, leaving architect Joseph Finger’s art deco creation in a state of decay. Thanks to the Houston Aeronautical Historical Society, much of the original structure was restored and turned into a museum.
When we walked in, it felt as if we were in a time warp. The terminal’s layout looks almost exactly like the original design from over 70 years ago. As soon as we bought our tickets from the terminal’s original ticket counter, we met Russell Orr. He’s a former pilot and generous member of the staff who was determined to show us every item in the museum. He took us through staged offices and rooms featuring aviation relics, including mannequins in pilot uniforms and original photographs from when the terminal was in operation. After enjoying every nook and cranny in the museum, “Russ” made us an offer we couldn’t refuse – the chance to check out a nearby hangar that housed vintage planes. Before we saw the magnificent machines, Russ showed us some of the “technology” like the analog navigation device he used in his time as a pilot then let us climb inside several inactive flight simulators. He could have talked about aviation well into the night, but the museum is only open until 5 p.m. So, we thanked him for taking us under his wing (pun intended) and left with a rich knowledge of the history of Houston aviation.
Plane travel and culture grew side by side in Houston. The 1940 Air Terminal will take you back to a time before hour-long TSA security lines and pesky baggage fees, when flying was a luxury. Once you’re there, you will find a diehard group of former pilots, mechanics and general aviation enthusiasts who are happy always having their head in the clouds.
• Admission: $5 for adults, $2 for children
• Make sure you grab a scavenger hunt from the front desk!
• Ask about the hangar down the street that has additional planes.
• The newly renovated atrium area can also be turned into a venue for private parties.
8325 Travelair St. Houston, TX 77061
Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Free, in front of museum.