Sept. 9, 1928Thrilling Maneuvers Staged By Kelly Field Aviators In Afternoon
Marked by impressive and solemn ceremonies and by hair-raising maneuvers by 15 army planes, the municipal airport was officially dedicated yesterday afternoon.
The largest crowd that has assembled here since the visit of Col. Charles A. Lindbergh a year ago was present for the occasion. Rows upon rows of automobiles were parked in the vicinity of the landing field. City and county police, reinforced by 100 soldiers detailed by Brig. Gen. George V.H. Moseley, Fort Bliss commander, kept order and prevented the crowds from surging on to the field as aviators in the cross-country races landed.
At the dedication exercises, thousands of El Pasoans stood with bared heads while Mayor R.E. Thomason paid tribute to three El Paso boys who died in the air service.
“I think it is fitting at this time to pay tribute to three El Paso boys who gave their lives in the advancement of aviation,” he said. “First of these is Buster Biggs, who gave his life for his country in France. Second, is Lieut. Bruce Struthers, who was killed in Arizona, and third is Ben Jenkins, Jr. who was killed here. We should bare our heads in tribute to these brave men.”
“I count this one of the greatest days, in the history of El Paso,” Mayor Thomason said. "If I were to prophecy, I would say that in five years you will be surprised at the activities at this airport.
“This hangar and airport cost the city and county $25,000. If the plans of the city government are carried out, this is to be only the first unit of this great enterprise.”
He praised the county for its assistance in clearing the aviation field, and thanked the citizens airport committee and Aero club for their part in making the airport a reality.
The army panes, in perfect formation, paraded for the benefit of the throng after the speech-making. First flying high in the air and then swooping down on imaginary enemy lines, the aviators kept the crowd in a state of breathless suspension. The perfect training of the men was shown by the rapidity with which they changed formation.
The aviators came here from Kelly field especially for the dedication of the airport.
R.N. Mullins, former city alderman, who was to have accepted the airport on behalf of the people, was unable to be present. He sent a telegram from Denver instead, which was read.
A.M. Lockhart had charge of the dedication program. He and Frank B. Fletcher, former president of the Chamber of Commerce, made short addresses.
Mr. Lockhart traced the progress of aviation from the time that Orville Wright made his memorable flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., in 1903 up to the present time.
“Just as surely as the automobile took the place of the horse and buggy so will aviation take the place of all other modes of transportation when speed is needed,” he said.
“The people are rapidly becoming air minded. Just as they became automobile minded in 1908 to 1911, as are they becoming air minded now. A young woman has flown across the Atlantic and is now making a solo flight across the country. An 8-year-old boy of Kansas City is planning to make a trip in an airplane alone.”
Although the airport cost the city and county only $25,000, exclusive of the land, it’s real worth may be estimated at $1,000,000, Mr. Fletcher said.
“El Paso, due to its strategic position, will become one of the great airports,” Mr. Fletcher said. “Situated as it is on the southern air route and visited by many civilian and army visitors, its future in that direction is assured.”
The Rev. John R. Edwards, pastor of the First Methodist church, pronounced the invocation.
Gen. Martinez, commander of the Juarez garrison, was to have attended the exercise, but was ill and unable to be present. He was represented by Col. Salazar, Capt. Torres and Capt. Barrias.
Gen. Moseley was introduced to the crowd and thanked by Mr. Lockhart for his aid in all civic undertakings. Maj. A.D. Surles also was thanked for his co-operation.
Others thanked by Mr. Lockhart for their assistance in the work of building the airport were Stacy Hinkle, Malcolm Carpenter, Charles N. Newman, Don Thompson, president of the Aero club, H.C. Stacy, city engineer; Fred Wilson, county engineer; Walter E. Stockwell, W.E. Robertson and William R. Blair.
Amplifiers were installed for the occasion by the Radio Electric Service and the speakers could be heard plainly by everyone in the huge crowd.
The hangar at the airport was not completed in time for the dedication.