Sometimes, you can find amazing stuff if you just allow it to happen. For instance, I met up with my friend (David) for lunch and he asked me at the end: "What are you doing after this?" I mumbled: "Some things. Why?"
He said that he was going to check out the 1940 Air Terminal Museum, which fronts Hobby Airport, since he had it bookmarked for a long time. Since I was really just going to walk the Hermann Park trails on that beautiful sunny Tuesday afternoon, I thought I should just go with the flow and check it out, too.
We opted to carpool in his car so I spotted him the $5 admission fee. The Art Deco building was the original Houston Municipal Airport and its runway gate opens up to an active runway at Hobby airport. As mentioned in other reviews, it is pretty amazing at how the distance from the terminal's front door to the door to the gates are so close to each other. Back in the day, there were no TSA security mazes, no curbside check-in, no huge concourses, no monorails, or moving sidewalks. The lobby could probably seat 50 people max; modern-day bus stations are bigger than this place. But, this place is gorgeous for its classical styling. (Hint: This place rents out for special events and you'd have a very distinctive venue.)
The north and south wings have been gutted and devoted to some fascinating exhibits to a more glamorous time of air travel. You can see a chronology of the various airlines, model airplanes, various memorabilia and flight uniforms in display cases. In a separate room, the large-screen TV has a continuous loop (about 5 minutes) of a DVD that shows the refurbishment of this terminal from 2003 to now.
Out front, there are two planes that are parked and the museum staff may allow you to climb inside and check out what a private plane really looks like. We were befriended by two other staff members and they asked us to follow them down the road to the hangar, where we stepped into a flight simulator, a larger Lodestar plane, and got up close and personal to air traffic control equipment, a Sikorsky helicopter, Cessna, Piper, and "Bamboo Bomber", a plane that is actually made of wood and fabric (what?).
While David was interested in all of this, I was practically Air Nerding it up and asking about everything. You'd think I had won the Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, if this factory also made airplanes. If you need a place to take tourists, this is a great option. Heck, if you're a local, this is a great option. Simply put: If you breathe, this is a great option. Go and enjoy!
* Every third Saturday of the month, they do a "Wings and Wheels" event. Classic cars are parked out front while they have a specialized group of airplanes on the taxiway while the Southwest planes land and take off.
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