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Haile Airport

Historic Site (4.13)4
1939-1948 2013
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111 E. Koenig Lane
Austin Travis
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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!

Sources:
Wings Over Austin, by Walter E. Long
Hank Howard


Photos

Back of the hanger The backside of the hanger showing the dense growth around the structure and the sloping walls on the side. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Wide view A wide angle view of the interior of the hanger. Note the extensive metal lattice work above. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Gone The hanger has been torn down and this field remains. (Photo by Austin Explorer)

Log Entries

Doc Haile
By Brittany klappenbach on 2/20/2016
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That's really sad that they tore the hangar down. I hope someone saved the wall with the painted rules. Haile Airport was owned by my great-grandfather Rudolph "Doc" Haile. He was a fantastic person to grow up with. He and my great-grandmother were tough as nails, having survived through the depression, and many other trials. He used to give flying instructions here, and was nearly killed when a student tried to commit suicide via plane crash once. It damaged his knee badly, but he survived. There are so many stories in my family about this time period. He sold the airport in the 40s and bough several hundred acres of land in Gorman to become a rancher. I grew up visiting them in Gorman where we would spend parts of our summers on great adventures, and jumping out of the big oak into the leaf piles, and riding around on the big tractor in Granddaddy's lap. I had the best grandparents....miss them terribly, even 20+ years later after they all started passing away.

I only got to visit the airport once as an adult, but it was obviously a nursery by then. I should've been more diligent about contacting the owners and seeing about keeping some mementos before it was destroyed. Big regret there.

I miss this place... 5 stars for the memories.
By heatharcadia on 1/30/2016
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This was such a cool piece of history and I loved shopping here when it was Backyard Nursery & Salvage Co. Now everything has been totally torn down and condos stand in its place. I feel so sad every time I jog pass it.

Long Gone
By Austin Explorer on 11/19/2013
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Drove by the site to log a visit and found the hanger had recently been torn down! No other known sign of the airport now remains.
Update- Haile Hanger / Howards Nursery
By Bobby Schreiber on 8/13/2009
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Born a Brackenridge baby back in 1975, I'm so proud to call myself a native Austinite. If you weren't born here, but now reside in Greater Austin, I'm still glad you're here and pleased to meet you.  Now, for the enthusiasts who search the nooks and crannies of Austin longing for bits of the past that we would all like to see preserved, there is a silver lining along the gray cloud that hovers over the what I now call the Zilker"condo"park, the former home of the Mobile Manor RV Park just south of the river.  Alright, with that out of the way, in regards to the Haile Hanger / Howards Nursery site, it is with great pleasure that I'm able to share that this tract of land will be reopened, as a nursery, a complete soil yard, and the hanger and all available space in between will be filled to the brim, wall to wall  with reclaimed/salvaged/restored bldg. materials. Folks, a true Austin architectural treasure hunting ground and garden one stop.  There are so many improvements on the way to this site, please stop by and see me day after day in hopes that year after year we'll get to know one another and prolong eminent domain or another empty shell of a condo project gone south.  I'll be in the hanger or on the grounds working to breathe some life back in the soil starting yesterday and am happy to take a breather from the moderately warm temps we've had hanging around this summer and fill any interested Howards patrons or fellow Austinites ears full of the great things to come.  Come by and see a revolution in the making, as literally every bit of the inventory is 100% salvaged or reclaimed and came from the very homes and buildings that USED to be down the road from me or down the road from you. Alright my friends, am looking forward to seeing you there.... better yet, bring the whole family and your neighbors to boot....

 Backyard Nursery & Salvage Co.

111 E. KOENIG LN.

Austin, TX 78751

 


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