“Fly me to the moon.”
“Fly like an eagle.”
There is perhaps no bigger daydream for most people than the ability to just take flight whenever and to wherever you want on just a whim.
A version of that dream can come true at the historic 1940 Air Terminal Museum for just $50, part of the Win-A-Plane fundraiser for the museum.
This year’s raffle plane is a tricycle gear Champion 7FC from 1958 with classic 50’s styling and a striking yellow paint job as well as a built-in Garmin 296 GPS. Since only 150 were ever made, it is a rare classic.
The raffle raises money for Houston’s vintage art deco 1940 Air Terminal Museum, which is featured in several Houston guidebooks including, “100 things to do in Houston before you die,” “111 places in Houston that you must not miss” and “Telephone Road, Texas.”
According to the guidebooks, the Air Terminal was designed by architect Joseph Finger, who also designed Houston’s City Hall in the same style. The building is reflected in the Hobby Area District logo.
The Houston Post profiled the facility in 1986, explaining:
“The terminal’s main hall is airy and spacious, surrounded by a second story mezzanine and looking out onto the busy field through expansive windows and stately aluminum entry doors. A graceful art-deco railing borders the waiting room and descends a marble-faced stairway. Above, a unique chandelier serves as the lobby’s main focal point. On Opening Day in 1940, a bright oriental red design glistened in the marble floor below. On one side of the lobby is a coffee shop, a favorite spot for visitors and passengers alike and down the hall was a very busy post office. Operations, management and radio offices also were located in the terminal.”
When it opened, the terminal and the rest of airport was home to Braniff Airways and Eastern Airlines. Now, of course, a newer terminal nearby services all commercial airlines that provide passenger service at the airport.
Howard Hughes, the eccentric Houston innovator and business magnate, parked his planes in a private hangar next door.
In the 1950’s, the terminal played host to frequent flyers like Humphrey Bogart, Bob Hope and members of the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., etc.) who often performed at the historic Shamrock Hotel, which stood in what is now the Texas Medical Center area.
During the filming of Giant out in Marfa, the terminal became a stop-over for actors Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and Rock Hudson as they waited for charter flights to West Texas.
After Taylor complained that the Houston heat was melting her makeup, the women’s restroom was outfitted with a vanity, a pink sofa and a fan, all of which are still on display at the terminal.
Other exhibits include airline uniforms from gone-by eras, a bullet-ridden beacon donated by Hughes, and planes like a Lockheed Lodestar and a World War II Cessna Bobcat.
The museum, which showcases the airlines, general aviation and business aviation, also has an area for spotting planes coming in and out of the airport and hosts a quarterly fly-in and open house called Wings & Wheels.
Raffle tickets are available for $50 each starting on Sept. 1, and no more than 2,500 tickets will be sold.
The winner will be announced at the museum’s Wings & Wheels open house Sept. 18 or earlier if all tickets have been sold.
Tickets are on sale until all have been sold or at noon Sept.17, whichever occurs first.
Raffle tickets can be purchased online at https://www.1940airterminal.
8325 Travelair St.
Houston TX 77061
Open Wednesday – Sunday 10am to 5pm
— By Brian Rogers