Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Texas Air Museum: A South Side jewel

The skies are filled with air traffic in the modern era. Whether commercial flight, police helicopters, military drills, or privately owned aircraft, the skies have been dominated by man. However, it was not long ago that the idea of flying machines was laughed upon and thought too ridiculous to accomplish.

In October 1999, John Tosh would open the Texas Air Museum; a privately owned, volunteer-run place; open to the public for a $4 admission fee. Located next to Stinson Airfield, at 1234 99th St, Tosh and his team of volunteers have been working to keep the public museum open and inform everyday citizens about the history of aircraft.

“San Antonio needed and aviation museum that was open to the public.” John Tosh, the Director of Texas Air Museum stated.

Outside, a large metal wearhouse structure stands with a solid steel door with a sign next to the handle: “Buzz the door, then enter.” Upon entering the museum, visitors are greeted and asked to sign in. Pete Jones, a volunteer, offers a warm greeting and supplies them with a detailed layout of what there is to see and where to see it.

Massive life-size replicas, from the Wright Brothers first airplanes to retired fighter jets adorn the museum. There is an immense amount of knowledge in the museum, accompanied by a peer into the past. For Tosh, it isn’t just a museum filled with artifacts and replicas, it is about keeping local history alive.

“This [San Antonio] is the birthplace of modern aviation,” Tosh stated. “Lt Benjamin Floyd was the first army pilot. He had a lesson with the Wright Brothers here at Fort Sam Houston.”

Outside, enormous retired fighter jets rest in trimmed green grass, with ladders leading up to their cockpits where pilots once sat to take these planes of war to the sky. Now visitors take selfies and can even step through the body of a retired Vietnam era helicopter. Deeper into Tosh’s museum lie countless uniforms and helmets from around the world from servicemen and servicewomen alike. All are displayed and labeled with their country of origin and whether or not it was involved in conflict.

On display as well, was information on the world’s very first ‘dog fight.’ It would take place in the summer of 1913, during the Mexican Revolution, between two Mexican nationals. Dean I. Lamb flew a Curtiss biplane for the rebels, while Phil Rader flew a Christofferson for Mexico’s federal government. Neither plane had mounted guns, which led the pilots to use their pistols that would leave no one dead and neither plane damaged.

The Texas Air museum receives no funds from the city of San Antonio, but this has not kept the 85-year-old John Tosh from keeping its doors open for nearly 20 years. Tosh says that his love for aviation is what keeps him going and it does not look as though he has any intention of stopping. The Texas Air museum operates Tuesday-Saturday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., with an admission fee of four dollars. A small price to pay for more than century of aviation history. 

Original article can be found here ➤

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