Aviation History at Glenwood Cemetery

Today was a grey and cold day in Houston so my husband Jared and I decided it would be nice to visit the Glenwood and Washington Cementeries and visit the graves of some famous people, especially those with ties to aviation.

The first grave we were most excited about was Howard Hughes, Jr’s. I know all of you know who Mr. Hughes was but here is a brief bio from the cemetery’s website as a refresher:

Hughes, Jr., Howard R. (1905-1976)
Billionaire and man of legendary accomplishments in business, aviation and film making. He assumed control of the Hughes Tool Company at the age of 19, following his father’s death. In the late 1920s he moved to Hollywood. His best-remembered films are the epic Hell’s Angels (1930) and The Outlaw (1941). During WWII and the decade that followed, he pursued his fascination with aviation, forming Hughes Aviation and receiving government contracts for development and manufacture of aircraft (including the wooden flying boat dubbed “The Spruce Goose”). In 1956 he acquired TWA and pushed it into the jet age. By the late 1960s, he was becoming increasingly reclusive, eventually running his business empire from a penthouse atop the Dessert Inn in Las Vegas. He died on a flight from Acapulco to Houston.”

Most non-aviation enthusiasts know about Howard from the 2004 movie “The Aviator,” played by Leonardo DiCaprio (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338751/).

According to the cemetery’s website, the Howard Hughes family plot is one of the most frequently visited sites at Glenwood. I’m very happy to hear that; I’m happy to hear that some people care about aviation history. Even though his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle became very apparent later in life, caused in part by a worsening obsessive–compulsive disorder and chronic pain, Mr. Hughes should be remembered by his aviation entrepreneurship as well as his piloting and engineering skills.

Grave of the Hughes Family

Grave of the Hughes Family

Grave of Howard Hughes, Jr and his two parents

Grave of Howard Hughes, Jr and his two parents

We were also interested in seeing William P. Hobby’s grave. He was Governor of Texas for a few years but, most importantly (for us, anyway), Houston’s second commercial airport (KHOU – William P. Hobby Airport) is named after him. I may be wrong here, but it is my understanding that this is the timeline of the airport’s name over the years:

- W.T. Carter Field in 1927 when it was a private landing field in a 600-acre (240 ha) pasture

- When the City of Houston acquired it in 1937, they changed the name to Houston Municipal Airport

- In July, 1938, after setting a new speed record flying his Lockheed 14 Super Electra around the world, Howard Hughes visited Houston for a 3 day celebration. During a banquet at the Rice Hotel, the City announced that Houston Municipal Airport was to be renamed Howard Hughes Municipal Airport. A few months later (about 4 months), the City learned that the airport will be disqualified for Federal grant money if it is named after a living person and the name was changed back to Houston Municipal Airport. (source: 1940 Air Terminal)

- Renamed Houston International Airport in 1954

- And renamed to its current name (William P. Hobby Airport) in 1967

Grave of William P. Hobby and his two wives

Grave of William P. Hobby and his two wives

Grave of William P. Hobby

Grave of William P. Hobby

I am not exactly sure what William P. Hobby’s involvement with the airport was, but Howard Hughes was responsible for several improvements to the airport, including its first control tower in 1938, in addition to being the era’s most influential aviator and a user of the airfield. If any of you know what Mr. Hobby’s involvement with the airport was, I’d like to know; please e-mail me or post a reply to this blog. I do not want to ignore Mr. Hobby’s accomplishments; however, I think I would prefer the airport to be named after Howard Hughes once again. Mr. Hobby has a local school named after him (William P. Hobby Elementary School – http://www.houstonisd.org/HobbyES). Mr. Hughes only has a restaurant/bar named after him – Hughes Hangar (http://hugheshangar.com/) - and, as a private enterprise, it could close and we could lose it. Hobby Airport is also the place where my husband and I met so it definetely has a special place in our hearts. =)

If you are interested in learning more about KHOU’s history, the 1940 Air Terminal Museum does a fabulous job of capturing it. I would suggest that you visit them sometime. It is pretty impressive. Here is their website: http://www.1940airterminal.org/history/timeline/.

For more information about the cemetery, visit their website at http://www.glenwoodcemetery.org/. If you click on “About Glenwood,” you can learn more about the cemetery and the significant and important people buried there. By clicking on “Visiting,” you can find a map of the cemetery.

We will be back to take a guided walking tour when my husband recovers from his running injury. I’ll update this if we learn some more interesting information.

4 thoughts on “Aviation History at Glenwood Cemetery

  1. As a Houston resident for many years, I have enjoyed taking visitors from out of town and other Houstonians to Glenwood to surprise them with the Hughes gravesite – they are always astonished and delighted – most never knew it was here.

    I too would like to see KHOU renamed for Howard Hughes.

  2. As a native Houstonian, it’s great to see this write up! I had forgotten about the Hughes’ family graves, but will now be sure to carve out time to see them when I can.

    My earliest memory of KHOU was taking my father out to the airport in June of 1966 to depart on his first jet flight. He was a local pastor and part-time religion reporter for the Houston Post and was departing on a round-the-world flight, to include 30 days in-country in Vietnam. His trip was subsequently turned into a book “Vietnam As I Saw It” a first-hand account of what was then the largest escalation of the conflict to date.

    I distinctly remember we were allowed to walk onto the plane with him, visit the flight deck and hang around and observe the flight depart from an outdoor viewing area at the old terminal.

    Pretty heady stuff for a 9-year-old budding aviator, who had his first flight only a couple of years before, when an aviation missionary (with what is now MAF) came through town to visit my dads’ church.

    Those early experiences were later pivotal in my becoming a pilot. And now, as a GA pilot and AOPA member, I fly Angel Flight missions back into HOU regularly from my home base in PWA (Wiley Post in OKC). When the prop stops on the AFSC ramp on the East side of Hobby and I exit my aircraft and look across the field to see the old terminal, it always brings back great memories of the roar and smell of the early 707s my dad flew on. Then, I refuel, load my passengers and taxi out to dance with whichever one of the 737-series is flying that day for Southwest.

    As Bob Hope would say: “Thanks for the memories!”

    MJ

  3. Just like I think KHOU should be named after Howard Hughes once again, maybe KMSY should also have John Bevins Moisant’s name in the airport name as well even though it is technically included in its identifier name already (MSY = Moisant Stock Yards, the name given to the land where Moisant’s fatal airplane crash occurred and upon which the airport was later built). According to wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Moisant although not an official source), Mr. Moisant was known as the “King of Aviators.” He was an American aviator, aeronautical engineer, flight instructor, businessman, and revolutionary. To learn more about MSY’s history, visit: http://www.flymsy.com/PageDisplay.asp?p1=5715

  4. On Monday, April 14, 2014, I had to honor to see and hear Bob Hoover speak again. It is always a great pleasure! I asked him if he had met Howard Hughes. He said he had not because he was always very shy. Mr. Hoover was apparently intimated by Mr. Hughes’ wealth and character. All he would do is wave at him or park his plane next to him on occasion… but now he wishes he would have met him because he gets my question asked a lot, he said.

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