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Aviation Legacy

While the State of Ohio may be “First in Flight,” and home to aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright and astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, Texas has a proud history in the realm of air travel.

In fact, Jacob Brodbeck, a German immigrant who settled in Fredericksburg, TX, may have made the first crash landing from a powered flight in 1865, decades before the Wright brothers success. Broadbeck was an educator and ambitious inventor who is said to have lifted his coil-spring powered “airship” about a dozen feet off the either Luckenbach or San Antonio, TX...before crashing it about one hundred feet after takeoff. 

Eyewitness accounts of the “historic” episode proved suspect and unreliable.

The acknowledged first flight in Texas took place in Houston in 1910. Three years later, the First Aero Squadron, a contingent of nine U.S. Army aircraft, was stationed in Texas City.

And, thus began a distinguished tradition of Texas military aviation which led to the establishment of Bryan Army Air Field during World War II.


Greg Bailey has served as the University Archivist and Clements Curator for the Cushing Library at Texas A&M University since 2014. As University Archivist he is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the university archives and related collections and serves as the primary spokesperson for Texas A&M history on behalf of the Libraries. Greg earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Eastern Illinois University and his master’s in Library Science from Indiana University.