When people think of airports in Austin mostly they think of
Meuller and Bergstrom, and not much else. But Austin is actually littered with airports that have long since been abandoned. One of those just just a stones throw from Meuller, the haile Airport.
From 1939 to 1948 Doc Haile ran an airport in what is now the neighborhood of Skyview. The small facility was on 50 acres and primarily used for general (i.e. not commercial) aviation. During the war some GI training apparently also took place.
'Haile Flying Service' can faintly be read over the hanger door.
The only remaining sign of the airport is one of its metal hangers. The decaying structure now serves as storage space for Howard Nursery
on Koenig Lane. Please note that the hanger is NOT open to the public and one should not approach it without permission. The folks at the nursery are all incredibly nice, so just ask if you can take a closer look.
The hanger was constructed of a metal frame with a corrugated metal surface that is attached to the frame with metal wire punched through the paneling. It's not really built to be permanent, but it still does its job today.
A few painting instructions can still be read inside the hanger.
Over the large hanger door one can still make out many of letters that read "Haile Flying Service". Inside there is a large central area for plane storage. Around it, spaces that must have been used for offices or storage spaces occupy walled off areas where the ceiling was lower. A couple of painted instructions are still visible including, "...must strictly adhere to civil air regulations" and "Please put money in box". Airport usage fees may have been on the honor system!
Update (May 28, 2006): On a visit to Howard Nursery today I discovered that they are going out of business on or before June 30 (probably depending upon how quickly they can sell their remaining inventory). Howard Nursery has served Austin since 1912 and will be sorely missed. There will unfortunately be one less option for gardening supplies other than the big box home improvement stores. If you're looking for deals, the remaining merchandise at the nursery is 30% off.
What this means for the remains of Haile's Airport is unknown, but the most likely outcome is that the old hangar will be torn down when the land is sold and plans are drawn up for some new use. So the clock is ticking on your chance to see this piece of Austin aviation (not to mention gardening) history.
I was pleased to find a printed copy of the Haile Airport writeup from AustinExplorer.com on their wall earlier today. Apparently, enough of you came into the store asking about the hangar that they went on the Internet to research how the word had gotten out!
Wings Over Austin, by Walter E. Long