South Carolina

Curtiss Wright Hander at Owens Field

The Curtiss Wright Hanger, the first building erected at Owens Field in 1929, represents the contributions of air transportation to the city of Columbia and the state of South Carolina. The hanger grew and changed along with the airport and aviation history: it was first used to house airplanes for passenger and airmail services, then became the headquarters of the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission until 1937, then was used as space for the civilian flight training program, and finally for general aircraft maintenance. The hanger is now on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

The airport was named for Columbia Mayor Lawrence B. Owens, who was one of the most ardent supporters of a municipal airport. On April 24, 1930, the new municipal airport was dedicated as Owens Field. In celebration, an airshow with more than 15,000 people attending saw notable aviators like the President of the Curtiss Flying Service, Casey Jones, Bill Winston (the flying instructor of Charles Lindbergh), and Elliot White Springs.

Springs, a native of South Carolina received the Distinguished Flying Cross from the Duke of Wales during the war, making him the "fifth-ranking American air ace." Early luminaries at Owens Field included Glenn Curtiss, the Wright brothers,

 

 

Amelia Earhart at Owens Field

Amelia Earhart and others at Owens Field.

Don McMullen and stunt woman Mabel Cody

Pilot Don C. McMullen and stunt woman Mabel Cody during an air show.

Jenny airplane

A popular Jenny airplane flown at the time.

Aviation Firsts Logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and Jimmy Doolittle. Amelia Earhart signed the airport logbook in 1931 and President Franklin D. Roosevelt touched down there during World War II.

Owens Field most important contributions were in service to the general public and the military. Eastern Air Transport began passenger and airmail service in 1932. Delta Airlines began its first scheduled services out of Columbia's new airport in 1934.

In 1935, recognizing the growing importance of aviation in the state of SouthCarolina, the State Legislature created the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission. The first director of the SC Aeronautics Commission, Dexter Martin, was also the first licensed pilot in South Carolina (1924), and was leader in beginning civilian flight training in 1939. He helped develop many of the state's important aviation centers, including Columbia Metropolitan Airport and Shaw, McEntire, and Myrtle Beach Air Force Bases.