The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004 Page: 536
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
On October zo, 1911, some three thousand Austin citizens witnessed the first airplane land-
ing in Austin. Calbraith Perry Rodgers (right), flying a Wright EX Flyer, included Austin on
his historic coast-to-coast flight. That event ushered the Capital City into the age of flight.
Photograph courtesy ofAustin History Center, Austin Public Library, PICA z 0568.
thereby creating a new industry and a new term in the contemporary ver-
nacular-"barnstorming," itinerant pilots flying from town to town, land-
ing at any available site (cow pastures), and taking up passengers for a
fee.' By the mid-g92os, however, barnstorming had pretty much run its
course and many of the young businessmen-aviators had established per-
manent bases across the nation; these became known as fixed base oper-
ators, or FBOs. Austin was one site of such bases. In 1925 Matt Watson
and Grace McClelland, using two biplanes, began flight operations at
Camp Mabry. A year later, when they moved to a sixty-two acre site on
Cameron Road (presently 1-35 at East 51st Street) and established Austin
Air Service, Jerry Marshall and Webb Ruff occupied their original loca-
tion at Camp Mabry and launched the Marshall and Ruff Flying School.
Apparently that partnership was short-lived. In 1926 Webb Ruff moved
his operation to a 138-acre field north of Austin on Fiskville Road (North
2 The Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" was well adapted for landing on unprepared surfaces, specifically cow pas-
tures. With modified high-lift wings, it could be landed as slowly as thirty-five miles an hour. In the event
the water-cooled V-8 go horsepower OX-5 engine failed, the Jenny's slow landing speed favored suirvival.
For more information on the Curtiss JN-4, see Paul O'Neil, Barnsto rming and Speed Kings (Alexandria, Va.:
Time-Life Books, Epic of Flight Series, S1981 ).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004, periodical, 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/m1/614/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.