Ellington Field, an aircraft-landing field, was constructed in 1917 on 1,280 acres of Texas prairie eighteen miles east of Houston, now in Pasadena. The first aircraft flew from Ellington on November 27, 1917. Since that time almost every type of airplane in the Air Force inventory has flown from its runways. The base was named in honor of Lt. Eric L. Ellington, who was killed in an aircraft crash in San Diego, California, in 1913. It was originally established for pilot and bombardier training. By April 1918 training at Ellington included dropping live bombs. The base was closed in 1920, and by 1930 the only remains were the concrete water tower and some concrete slabs on which small hangars once stood. In 1940 Congress authorized a program to rebuild Ellington. The new base was occupied in the spring of 1941, and thousands of pilots, navigators, and bombardiers were trained there during World War II. The base was inactive from March 1946 until 1947, when it became Ellington Air Force Base, a navigator-training school. The navigator-training wing was phased out in 1958. From the 1950s through the 1970s the base was engaged in pilot and navigator training for air reservists, air guardsmen, and navy, marine, and foreign students. NASA became a tenant in 1962. In 1984 the base was turned over to the city of Houston to be operated as a municipal airport, once again named Ellington Field. It continued to provide support for military reserve and guard units, as well as NASA and the Grumman Corporation for its aerospace activities.
Support Texas History Now
Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.
Houston Chronicle Magazine, November 1, 1987. Mark L. Morgan, "Air Force Bases: 1946–1987," AAHS Journal 32 (Winter 1987). Drury M. Phillips, "Ellington Field, Houston, Texas," Texaco Star 6 (July 1919).
- Progressive Era
- World War II
- Texas Post World War II
- Upper Gulf Coast
- East Texas
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Art Leatherwood, “Ellington Field,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 17, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/ellington-field.
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.