Flying High on the Southside: 100 Years of Aviation in San Antonio

Flying High on the Southside: 100 Years of Aviation in San Antonio

A high angle of the Stinson Airport building from a distance. A blue sky in the background.

Photo: Stinson Municipal Airport, City of San Antonio

Just down the road from VIDA, on Mission Road near the San Antonio River, is another piece of Southside history: Stinson Airport, the second oldest continuously operating general aviation airport in the country.

The airport has been in business since 1915, when it was founded by the legendary Stinson family. Siblings Katherine, Eddie, and Marjorie Stinson ran a flying school until World War I, when the school shut down and the City of San Antonio took over airport operations.

The U.S. Air Force used Stinson as a training facility during World War II. After that, commercial airlines moved to San Antonio International Airport (SAT); however, private and corporate flights, as well as law enforcement and emergency services, still run daily out of Stinson (SSF).

Proposed plans for the next 20 years include lengthening the runways, adding new hangars, and developing a fueling facility. These improvements aim to boost Stinson as a more viable alternative to SAT for business and general aviation in the future.

Today, airport visitors enjoy photos and memorabilia on display, can rent event spaces and explore the Stinson Hike & Bike Trail that connects to the Mission Reach. 

Eat with Purpose: Trailblazer Cafe

The airport’s on-site bistro, named in honor of the Stinsons and other women in aviation, is a scratch kitchen with a view of SSF runways. Trailblazer Cafe offers a menu of baked goods, specialty drinks, sandwiches, burgers and salads. 

According to their website, the cafe’s goal is to improve community well-being by providing superior food service and quality process initiatives while uniting the local aviation community through youth outreach. It’s part of the city’s Ready to Work workforce development program, offering jobs that develop skill sets that extend beyond food service. 

Trailblazer Cafe is open daily at 6 a.m., until 8 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and until 10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Call 210-957-1858 or email eat@trailblazercafe.biz.

A cafe featuring modern atmosphere.

Photo: Trailblazer Cafe

Explore History: Texas Air Museum

See artifacts of local aviation history at the Texas Air Museum at Stinson Field, a volunteer-run museum that has exhibits of early aircraft. Katharine Stinson’s Bleriot is a highlight—she was a pioneer of female pilots and in 1912 only the fourth woman in the U.S. to earn a license.

World War II aircraft, vehicles, weapons, and uniforms are also on display. Visitors can learn details about that era and why San Antonio is considered to be the birthplace of American military aviation.

The museum is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Admission is $2-$6. Call 210-977-9885 or email info@texasairmuseum.org for more information.

Historic airplane inside of a museum featuring the words "AVRO."

Photo: Texas Air Museum

Up in the Air: Alamo Helicopter Tours

Get a one-of-a-kind view of San Antonio and the Hill Country. Alamo Helicopter Tours operates out of Stinson and offers a variety of flight options to fit any budget, from a 15-mile route around downtown to a 100-mile route high in the hills.

Pilot and drone training courses are also available for those looking to be certified. Call 210-921-2359 or email alamoheli@gmail.com for details.

A helicopter flies high over the San Antonio skyline with the Tower of the Americas nearby.

Photo: Alamo Helicopter Tours

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