North Texas Aviation Centennial
In 2011, the City of Fort Worth celebrated one hundred years of aviation history in the North Texas region with the North Texas Aviation Centennial 1911-2011 Committee programs and projects. The Veterans Memorial Air Park played a pivotal role in organizing, promoting, and sponsoring the year’s events.
We continue to promote the rich aviation heritage of the North Texas region through the Historic Aviation Preservation Program or HAPP. We are actively involved with the City of Fort Worth to identify and preserve areas, items and landmarks of significance to the history of aviation in North Texas and show how aviation transformed the region from cattle and oil into one of the premier aviation centers of the world.
On a windy afternoon in Fort Worth, on January 12th, 1911, before a crowd of nearly 17,000, Roland Garros of the Moisant International Aviators took to the air in his Statue of Liberty, Bleriot XI and became the first person to perform a powered flight in North Texas.
The Moisant aviators stated goal was to educate the general public about aviation and inspire people to helps solve problems of aviation and navigation. The goals and mission of the Centennial Committee were very similar.
The North Texas Aviation Centennial had two goals:
- Create awareness of the history and heritage of aviation in North Texas and inspire youth of our community to careers in aviation and aerospace.
- Exhibit to our community the educational resources of the Veterans Memorial Air Park and the potential for greater benefits through the proposed Fort Worth Air & Space Museum.
During 2009, the management of the Veterans Memorial Air Park held a series of focus group meetings with members of the Aviation Department at Tarrant County College, City of Fort Worth Library, local historians and interested parties. Much of what we learned from those meetings was used in museum presentations at our airpark. Of the many things we learned, one was clear: the general public of North Texas is unaware of the aviation history of this area and the leadership role we have played in aviation and aerospace developments since 1911.
We also learned that Tarrant County College’s Aviation Department would like to build a path from the local middle schools to their programs.
Our primary mission and goals were based on these concepts. A secondary goal was building awareness and support for the educational programs at the Veterans Memorial Air Park and the planned Fort Worth Air & Space Museum.
We used a series of monthly themes to keep the celebration fresh and lively.
The specific youth groups to be targeted are middle schools from 6th through 9th grade. The motto for our celebration will be “Bringing Aviation History to Life.”
As much as possible, we used volunteers, groups or corporations to plan, organize and conduct the monthly activity or event. This allowed the planning committee, headed by members of the Veterans Memorial Air Park (VMAP), the B-36 Peacemaker Museum, and the Fort Worth Air and Space Museum Foundation (FWASMF), to concentrate on overall management and marketing and not the specifics of conducting the individual projects.
When appropriate, an iconic aircraft or air vehicle were associated with the monthly theme.
Where possible, S.T.E.M. principals (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) were incorporated into the activities and events. VMAP and FWASMF staff were available to assist groups to formulate their activities to incorporate these concepts. We will also solicit support from school STEM departments.
The primary management of the calendar of events was through the North Texas Aviation Centennial Planning Committee made up of members of the Veterans Memorial Air Park, Fort Worth Air and Space Museum Foundation and the B-36 Peacemaker Museum staff. As needs arise, other resources and volunteers will be added. The group will function under the non-profit, 501(c)3 charter of the OV-10 Bronco Association, Inc., the owner and operator of the Veterans Memorial Air Park, located at 3300 Ross Avenue, Fort Worth.
Members of the Planning Committee include:
- Zim Zimmerman – City of Fort Worth Councilman and Chairman of the Fort Worth Air & Space Museum Foundation
- Jim Hodgson – Executive Director of the Veterans Memorial air Park
- Tom Kemp – Past President of the Fort Worth Chapter of the Air Force Association and Treasurer of the OV-10 Bronco Association, operators of the Veterans Memorial Air Park.
- Bob Adams – President of the B-36 Peacemaker Museum.
- Bill Morris – Fort Worth Air and Space Museum historian and researcher.
- Ann Shelton – Fort Worth Air and Space Museum foundation Executive Assistant.
- Initiate the process to establish historical markers in North Texas to include but not limited to:
- World War I airfields
- Meacham Field
- Helium Plant and mooring mast
- American Airlines hangar at Meacham Field
- World War I bombing targets
- First Flight site
- Ryan Pasture (Ryan Place)
- City of Fort Worth
- Air Force Plant #4
- Conduct, sponsor, facilitate or participate in at least one monthly “signature” event during 2011.
- Establish a database of potential volunteers, sponsors, members or supporters by collecting names of attendees at “Official North Texas Aviation Centennial” events.
- Distribute museum, centennial or education materials as appropriate at all “Official North Texas Aviation Centennial” events.