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Mueller Airport

Historic Site N/A
1930-1999 2002
No No
N/A
N/A N/A
N/A
Manor Road
Austin Travis
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In the early 20th century airplanes were the transportation method of the future and having a first-class airport was the sign of a prosperous city. The problem was that Austin did not have much to speak of in terms of a city airport in the 1920's. City leaders and local citizens changed that when they set into motion the development of what would be Austin's airport for almost 70 years. Mueller Airport provided service to Austin up until its closure in 1999 when Austin Bergstrom Airport opened near Del Valle.

The current location of Mueller Airport was first utilized for aviation use in 1926 when the Austin Air Service operated on 40 leased acres that were to become the northwest end of the airport.

The sign at the airport entrance off of Airport Blvd. Future generations will wonder why the street is named that.
In 1928 Austin voters approved bonds that would be used to purchase land that would become Mueller Airport. City officials began surveying for appropriate sites and securing options on land. Outside help was used to decide on the most promising sites. Claire Chennault, who would later go on to fame as head of the Flying Tigers in World War II, recommended Mueller's present location over the other options.

The control tower of Mueller was a distinctive shape on the skyline of Austin.
The airport officially opened on October 14, 1930. The airport was named for Robert Mueller, a city council member who passed away in 1926. At the time the airport facilities included one small building smaller than most houses today, a gasoline pump and gravel runways.

Over the years the facilities at Mueller have improved with the times. The airport's distinctive control tower was part of a terminal dedication in 1961 that was attended by then Vice President Lyndon Johnson. However, improving the facilities at the airport was not enough to stave off closure. The airport was simply ill placed for modern day Austin.

Parking at Mueller is not a problem. Feel free to pull right up to the terminal.
What was open farm land in the 1920's was now the center of town, with upset residents all around it. A drive down I-35 was not complete without an airliner buzzing overhead. As the airport needs of the city continued to grow there was simply no place to go.

Several old support buildings remain on the northern edge of the airport off of 51st Street. This old hanger used to have some painted identification on the side that has badly faded.
Near that same time a series of events were set into motion that seemed fortuitous. In a cost saving measure, the military was closing bases across the country and Bergstrom Air Force base was on the cut list. In the 1940's the city of Austin donated the land to the US government for use as an air base with the stipulation that it be returned to the city when no longer used. With the base closure the city had land already paid for that was farther from the center of town and that already had runways more than large enough for most modern jet liners. Mueller was doomed.

As of August 2002, the buildings of the old airport largely remain, but they are in the process of being torn down with parts being sold off when possible. Anybody want to buy a "part" of an airport?

The city has big plans for the hundreds of acres that will now be freed up so close to the center of town. A master plan has been in the works for a few years. If you'd like to see the remains of this once great airport you had better get out there before the memories fly away.


Photos

Tower Closeup A closer view of the top of the control tower. Chances are that most of the electronics have already been removed, but a few antennas remain. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Drive Up This is where passengers would be picked up and dropped off. Fences now block the path and keep people from getting a closer look. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Drop Off The opposite side of the curb side drop off lanes. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Have A Seat! During our visit the main terminal was in the process of being gutted and hauled off. These rows of chairs were just sitting outside. I think the new airport could use some! (Photo by Austin Explorer) Demolition Most of the demolition during our visit was taking place on the airport gates behind the mail terminal. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Rental This rental booth was destroyed by vandals and not a demolition crew. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Booths Parking is now free at the old airport. Feel free to continue through without paying. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Coming Down Later, as the terminal was being torn apart, the control tower was spared, at least temporarily. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Destruction 2 Looking down what used to be the drop off ramp the full extent of the terminal demolition can be seen. (Photo by Austin Explorer)

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