Members Only Area
Bookmark and Share
sidebar menu icon


WILLIAM P. HOBBY AIRPORT. William P. Hobby Airport began in 1927 as a landing field in a 600-acre pasture. The city of Houston purchased the field in 1937 and expanded it to 1,240 acres. Its wooden terminal building was replaced at that time. The Houston Municipal Airport, as it was then known, was served only by Braniff Airways and Eastern Airlines. By the end of World War II the airport had paved runways, city-built hangars, and a lighting system, and four additional airlines had begun service. International flights became a reality by 1950, when Pan American Airlines began service to Mexico City. In 1954 the city renamed the airport Houston International Airport. In 1957 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines began direct flights between Houston and Amsterdam. The 1950s saw many additions and improvements made in keeping with the airport's international status, including expansion of the old terminal, construction of a new modern terminal, lengthened and strengthened runways capable of handling the new turbojet aircraft, several new hangars, and a high-intensity lighting system. In the 1960s growth continued with another addition to the terminal. In 1966 more than two million passengers passed through Houston International. The airport was renamed the William P. Hobby Airport in 1967 in honor of the Texas governor and Houston civic leader.

As early as the 1950s the then Civil Aeronautics Administration recommended that Houston begin to plan for another airport as, even at that time, Hobby was clearly inadequate for the new aviation travel market. There was inadequate parking, as well as crowded ticket-counter and boarding-gate space. By 1961 6,000 acres had been purchased north of downtown Houston, and construction of a new airport had begun. The new Houston Intercontinental Airport opened on June 8, 1969, and Hobby Airport was designated a General Aviation Airport serving mainly private and corporate aircraft, but by 1971 some domestic commercial carriers had returned to Hobby. By 1980 the Houston Aviation Department reported that ten domestic passenger carriers served more than three million passengers at Hobby Airport. There were also three cargo carriers operating out of Hobby, and 700 aircraft, including 175 jets, were based there. The city of Houston has adopted a master plan to accommodate the future aviation needs of the city. The plan included Houston Intercontinental, Hobby, and Ellington Field.


Houston Post, July 7, 1986. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Art Leatherwood

Image Use Disclaimer

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:

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.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Art Leatherwood, "William P. Hobby Airport," accessed January 22, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on January 18, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.