100 Years of Tucson Aviation History

Tucson Citizens publishes Michelle Rouch’s research – 100 Years of Aviation History in Tucson.


1903 : The City of Tucson passes its first speed limit, 7 mph, while the Wright Brothers take their first flight on December 17, 1903 on a cold, windy beach at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

1910 : Aviation debut in Tucson when Charles “the Bird Man” Hamilton lands his plane downtown Tucson.

1912 : Arizona became the 48th state of the United States of America on February 14, 1912.

1915 : On November 4 – 6, 1915 Katherine Stinson, forth woman in the U.S. to receive a pilot’s license from the Wright School of Aviation, performs aerobatics at the Pima County Fair on her “Looper” aircraft by flying low over Tucson she drops a mail pouch on a vacant lot behind the post office thus establishing mail route 668001.

1919 : First municipally owned airport in the United States (a.k.a. the Tucson Municipal Flying Field) opens on land on South Sixth Street, now where the Rodeo Grounds are today.

1924 : Lowell Smith lands in Tucson during his “Around the World Flight.” He returns back to Tucson 18 years later to become Field Commander at Davis Monthan.

1925 : The City of Tucson acquired 1280 acres from the State of Arizona for a military field. It was named after two native Tucsonans: Sam Howard Davis and Oscar Monthan.

1927 : Tucson Airport moves to a larger parcel of Land – Charles Lindbergh arrives in his Spirit of St. Louis to dedicate the new Tucson Municipal Airfield.

1928 : Standard Airlines, currently known as American Airlines starts first scheduled services in Tucson.

1930 :    Regular airmail delivery to Tucson is inaugurated.

1941 : Davis Monthan Air Force Base (DMAFB) is established.  The Tucson skies became too busy to handle both military and civilian traffic.  Hudgin, first airport operator, builds hangar.

1942 : Ground was broken in a field 13 miles west of Tucson to transform the desert into an Army base.  Ryan School of Aeronautics trains pilots for WWII.  Consolidated Vultee (now General Dynamics) constructs three large hangers on west ramp for B-24 modifications.

1948 : Tucson Airport Authority is created by state charter.

1949 : Arizona Sundance Chapter of International Association of Women Pilots (99’s) is created.

1951 : Hughes Aircraft (later Raytheon Missile Systems) comes to Tucson. Tucson Airport Authority takes over management of Ryan Airfield.

1956 : Arizona Air National Guard 162nd Fighter Group opens at Tucson Airport. Today, the Arizona ANG base is one of the world’s top two F-16 training squadrons in the U.S.

1960 : American Airlines begins its first jest service to Tucson.

1961 : Tucson Municipal becomes International with the arrival of Aeronaves de Mexico, later becomes Aeromexico.

1963 : Airport dedicates new terminal across the field.

1976 : Gates Learjet opens facility.  The 355th Tactical Fighter Wing moves to Davis Monthan.

1978 : Federal government deregulates airline industry.

1983 : New International building opens at Tucson International Airport.

1993 : A six story control tower opens at Ryan Airfield.

1994 : Passenger traffic exceeds three million annually.

1995 : Concorde lands in Tucson.

2000 : Tucson Airport Authority begins a $65 million terminal expansion project.

2003 : Centennial Celebration at Tucson International Airport

2008 : Tucson Airport Authority celebrates its 60th year and the Tucson Control Tower turns 50.

2008 : University of Arizona, first university to lead a NASA project. The Phoenix Mars Lander 5 month mission in digging up scientific ‘firsts’.

2009 : A-10 Squadron in-flight training resumes after Rework at AMARG of Wing metal fatigue.

100 Years of Tucson Aviation, Aerospace, and Astronomy History

100 Years of Tucson Aviation, Aerospace, and Astronomy History

100 Years of Tucson Aviation Historyadmin