Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:
Texas, Western Houston area
© 2002, © 2014 by Paul Freeman. Revised 4/25/14.
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Andrau Airpark (revised 10/4/13) - (Original) Bay City Municipal Airport (revised 4/25/12)
(Original) Columbus Municipal (revised 4/25/14) - Lite-Flite Ultraport (added 6/27/11) - Sugar Land State Prison Airfield (revised 7/11/10)
Lite-Flite Ultraport, Katy, TX
29.78 North / 95.85 West (West of Houston, TX)
A February-March 1983 aerial view by Charlie Lanni looking north at the Lite-Flight Ultraport, showing the airfield area, hangars, and several ultralights.
According to Charlie Lanni, “The Lite-Flite Ultraport was started in the early 1980s west of Houston in Katy, TX.
I first discovered Lite-Flite in the late summer of 1982 & bought a brand new Mirage ultralight there.
I took lessons that fall & solo'ed in my Mirage after about 12 hours of training.
I trained in a Condor ultralight, the most popular aircraft flying at Lite-Flite at the time.
It had a double-wide seat allowing us to fly dual in what was 'supposed' to be a single-seat ultralight.
The rules for flying dual as a Basic Flight Instructor with a student weren't enacted at that time.
In fact, the FAA Part 103 rules had only recently come out.”
Charlie continued, “Due to ultralight activity at that time getting a little out-of-hand...
(I recall one time at my office watching a WeedHopper fly along Highway 59 into downtown Houston, and know of others who did the same,
in fact, one time I landed my ultralight in a field alongside a 6-story office building so I could walk over to the 7-Eleven for a Coke)
the FAA held a meeting for us at the AstroHall.
In a nutshell they showed us how thick the book of FAA regulations was, how our 5 rules fit on one piece of paper,
and told us that if we didn't want to abide by those 5 rules, we could be inserted into the big, fat book along with everyone else!”
Charlie continued, “Lite-Flite was more than sales & instruction; they also manufactured the Spitfire ultralight right there at the airport.
Early ultralight pilots were cocky. The planes were so light & flew so slow they gave the impression of being safe & gentle.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Light winds swirling around the buildings can easily upset these craft.
I can think of no fewer than 5 crashes there at Lite-Flite. Three I witnessed, the last one being a fatality.
A new pilot was practicing touch-n-gos going the wrong direction (tail wind).
He got caught in the downdraft of the wind going over the top & down the back side of the hangar.
He couldn't pull out before hitting the power lines. He blew out a transformer & went nose-first into the next-door parking lot.
I suspect the jolt killed him before the impact.”
According to Andrew Haskins, Lite-Flite Airport was operated by his grandfather, Norman Haskins.
A February-March 1983 photo by Charlie Lanni of “from left-to-right: the manufacturing shop behind the sign, a hangar, (a second hangar is behind the sales office), and the sales office.”
A February-March 1983 aerial view by Charlie Lanni looking north at the Lite-Flight Ultraport, showing several ultralights around the hangars.
Charlie recalled, “We really could take off & land into the wind in many directions, but the preferred direction (because it was longest) was what would've been Runway 12/30.
Later, another hangar was built between the 2 shown, an RV dealer built in the lot to the east. Power lines were run between the properties (that was where the poor fellow crashed).
And at one point, on the south end of the property, there was a pond that someone used to land his ultralight seaplane
(it was nothing more than an ultralight bolted to a little bass boat!).”
A February-March 1983 photo by Charlie Lanni at Lite-Flight Ultraport, of “an early Spitfire, fresh out of the factory.
It ran a Kawasaki 440 with a belt reduction drive. There's a Condor in the background”
Charlie continued, “Regulations, wrecks, and whatever, it seemed that Lite-Flite & ultralights lost some of their attractiveness.
They sold out to the business next door, I believe. Last I saw they were selling RV's there. And not the ones that fly.”
Aviation activities had evidently ceased at Lite-Flight by the time of a 1/1/89 aerial photo,
as no aircraft were evident in the photo.
The airfield area otherwise remained clear.
Lite-Flight was no longer depicted on the January 1992 Houston Terminal Area Chart.
A 1/28/11 aerial view showed the former Lite-Flite hangars remained intact, and the majority of the former airfield area remained clear.
The site of Lite-Flite Ultraport is located southwest of the intersection of Interstate 10 & Manino Road.
(Original) Bay City Municipal Airport (T26), Bay City, TX
28.98 North / 95.94 West (West of Houston, TX)
The original Bay City Municipal Airport,
as depicted on the 1951 San Antonio Sectional Chart (courtesy of David Brooks).
The original Municipal Airport for the town of Bay City was located adjacent to the east side of the town.
The original Bay City Municipal Airport was evidently established at some point between 1944-45,
as it was not yet depicted on a 3/5/43 aerial view,
nor listed among active airfields in the April 1944 U.S. Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer).
The earliest depiction of the original Bay City Municipal Airport which has been located
was on the 1945 Edwards Plateau World Aeronautical Chart (according to David Brooks).
The 1951 San Antonio Sectional Chart (courtesy of David Brooks)
depicted Bay City as having a 2,500' unpaved runway.
The earliest photo which has been located of the Bay City Airport was a 3/5/57 aerial view.
It depicted Bay City as having 3 unpaved runways,
with 3 light aircraft, 4 T-hangars & a few other buildings on the northwest side of the field.
The last photo which has been located showing the Bay City Airport while in operation was a 1965 aerial view.
Several more small hangars had been added at some point between 1957-65, and 4 light aircraft were parked outside.
The 1966 AOPA Airport Directory (according to David Brooks) described Bay City
as having 3 turf runways: 2,470' Runway 17/35, 2,300' Runway 13/31, and 2,200' Runway 8/26.
The 1971 Flight Guide (courtesy of David Brooks) depicted Bay City
as having 3 unpaved runways, with the longest being the 2,470' Runway 17/35.
Four buildings (hangars?) were located on the northwest side of the field.
The 1989 TX Airport Directory (courtesy of David Brooks)
depicted Bay City as having 4 unpaved runways, with the longest being the 2,495' Runway 17/35.
Ten small buildings were clustered around the northwest side of the field,
with another 3 small buildings on the east side of the field.
The manager was listed as Jim Warnock.
In the 1995 USGS aerial photo,
it is not apparent if the original Bay City Airport was still in use, or had been closed already,
as the field was still completely intact.
The outline of the 3 grass runways was still very recognizable,
and several hangars were clustered around the northwest corner of the field.
The original Bay City Municipal Airport was closed at some point between 1989-2004,
as it was no longer listed among active airfields as of 2004.
An October 2004 photo by David Brooks of the abandoned Bay City Airport,
"taken from the where the runway used to come to the road, so the picture is looking southeast."
David Brooks visited the site of the original Bay City Municipal Airport in October 2004.
His report: "Well - it is closed. Amazingly, the field is pretty much in tack.
The old hangars are in disrepair & rusting. The field has some fences across it.
So this field can definitely be put down in the closed list.
I could not get to the end of runway 35. The road has been torn up & a fence put in."
An October 2004 photo by David Brooks of the hangars at Bay City,
"taken from the railroad crossing which runs along the north side of the airfield.
The hangars are rusting & falling in a bit.
An October 2004 photo by David Brooks of what appears to be the abandoned wind direction indicator (tetrahedron).
A December 31, 2008 aerial photo of the original Bay City Airport showed it to remain completely intact,
including the outline of the 3 grass runways & several hangars on the northwest corner of the field.
The original Bay City Airport is located southeast of the intersection of Route 35 & Norvell Avenue.
Thanks to David Brooks for pointing out this airfield.
(Original) Columbus Municipal Airport (6R7), Columbus, TX
29.72 North / 96.56 West (West of Houston, TX)
Columbus Municipal Airport, as depicted on the 1950 San Antonio Sectional Chart (courtesy of David Brooks).
The original airport for the town of Columbus was located on the northwest side of the town.
The date of construction of the original Columbus Municipal Airport has not been determined.
It was evidently established at some point between 1945-49,
as it was not yet depicted on the 1945 San Antonio Sectional Chart (according to David Brooks).
The earliest depiction of the Columbus Municipal Airport which has been located
was on the January 1949 San Antonio Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).
It was described as a fairly minimal airfield, with a 2,300' turf runway, and being unattended.
The 1957 USGS topo map depicted “Columbus Airstrip”
as having an unpaved northwest/southeast runway with 1 small building on the north side.
The only photo which has been located showing Columbus Airport while in operation was a 2/1/57 USGS aerial view,
which depicted the field as having a single unpaved northwest/southeast runway with one small hangar on the north side.
The 1963 TX Airport Directory (courtesy of Steve Cruse) depicted Columbus
as having 2 turf runways (3,100' Runway 13/31 & 1,800' Runway 18/36).
Taxiways led to a small ramp on the northwest corner of the field with 2 T-hangars.
The operator was listed as T. B. West, Inc., and the manager was T. B. West.
Columbus apparently gained a paved runway at some point between 193-67,
as the 1967 TX Airport Directory (courtesy of Brad Stanford)
depicted the field as having a 2,700' asphalt Runway 13/31, with a 600' turf overrun at the southeast end.
The former crosswind grass runway had apparently been abandoned.
The manager was listed as T. B. West.
The 1981 USGS topo map depicted 2 other buildings having been built at the northwest corner of the airfield,
in comparison to the diagram in the 1967 TX Airport Directory.
The 1982 AOPA Airports USA directory (courtesy of Ed Drury)
described Columbus as having a single 3,200' asphalt Runway 13/31.
The field was said to offer fuel, major repairs, and tiedowns.
The operator was listed as Columbus Aviation.
However, the end was in sight for the airfield at this location,
as the remarks said, "Possible closing of airport for relocation."
That possibility was evidently carried out at some point within the next year,
as the 1983 TX Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy)
depicted a new Robert R. Wells Airport, located 3.5 miles south of Columbus,
but the original Columbus Airport was no longer listed.
As seen in the 1995 USGS aerial photo,
the majority of the former asphalt Runway 13/31 still remained intact,
but a pit of some kind appears to have been dug over the northwestern portion of the former runway.
None of the airport buildings remained at the site.
A 2005 photo looking north at the remains of the Columbus runway,
taken by the Colorado County CAP Composite Squadron (courtesy of Troy Millican).
The site of the original Columbus Municipal Airport is located west of the intersection of Route 71F & Braden Lane.
Thanks to David Brooks for locating this airfield.
Sugar Land State Prison Airfield, Sugar Land, TX
29.6 North / 95.65 West (Southwest of Houston, TX)
USGS topo map 1980.
Photo of the airfield while open has not been located.
This abandoned airfield is located on the grounds of the State Prison Farm,
less than a mile south of the Sugar Land Hull Airport.
The date of construction of the airfield is unknown.
The only depiction of the airfield which has been located is the 1980 USGS topo map.
It depicted the airfield as consisting of a single 3,200' north/south runway,
adjacent to the west side of Flanagan Road.
Mike Hardwick reported in 2003, "About 15 years ago I came across a small airfield
about 1 mile south of the Sugar Land Hull airport.
I was told it was a landing strip for the prison system airplanes."
Claud Pipkin reported, "Being that this airstrip is in the middle of the prison field,
I suspect it's prime use is for crop-dusters.
I've seen the prison 'farm' and it is fairly large, crop field wise; a place for crop dusters would be handy."
John Mechura also reported in 2003, "I found this one while using the road next to it as a shortcut.
This is on State of Texas prison farm property.
Officially its the Sugar Land Prison unit.
The irony is it is only about 1/2 mile south east of the Sugar Land Municipal Airport.
Its surface is concrete, and there is the frame to an old windsock nearby."
The Prison airfield was not listed in TX Airport Directories from 1963 or 1985,
or in the 1962 AOPA Airport Directory.
In a 1/14/95 USGS aerial view looking northwest, the runway appeared to be paved, and in decent condition.
There did not appear to be any other aviation infrastructure at the site, other than the runway itself.
The date of closure of the prison airfield is unknown.
A seen in this circa 2000 aerial photo, the runway appeared to remain in decent condition.
No airfield was listed at the site in 2003 FAA records, or depicted on the 2003 Sectional Chart.
The runway remained largely intact on a 2005 aerial photo,
but photos over the next few years show that it was eventually removed by 2008,
as the area was covered with new residential construction.
Andrau Airpark (AAP), Alief, TX
29.72 North / 95.59 West (West of Houston, TX)
A 1953 aerial view looking south at Andrau Airpark showed a cluster of hangars & several aircraft, including appeared to be a DC-3.
No airfield was yet depicted at this location on a 1944 aerial photo.
According to Archivaltexas, Andrau Airpark was was built in 1946 on a rice farm
owned by Evert Willem Karel Andrau (nicknamed the “Flying Dutchman”).
He was killed in a plane crash in 1951, but his airfield continued to operate for another 47 years.
However, the airport was not yet depicted at all on the 1952 Humble Oil street map of Houston.
The earliest depiction of Andrau Airpark that has been located was a 1953 aerial view.
It depicted Andrau Airpark as having 2 paved runways,
a distinctive cluster of diamond-shaped hangars, and several aircraft, including what appeared to be a DC-3.
The earliest aeronautical chart depiction of Andrau Airpark that has been located
was on the August 1954 Edwards Plateau World Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
It depicted Andrau as having a 3,400' hard-surface runway,
and an NDB navigational beacon on the field.
Claud Pipkin recalled of Andrau Airpark, "While in High School or just out of school [prior to 1957], I would go out there.
Baroid Corporation (drilling muds) had an Aero Commander that was often seen on the flight line.
It was bright yellow with red trim. I can't remember now whether it had a straight or swept tail.
It definitely had the fat nacelles."
A 1957 aerial view depicted Andrau as having 2 paved runways,
and a large number of hangars on the northeast side of the field,
and over 30 aircraft on the field.
The 1962 AOPA Airport Directory described Andrau Airpark as having 2 paved runways (the primary, Runway 16/34, was 4,710' long),
and listed the operators as Andrau Airpark Inc. & Dave Wallace Company.
The 1963 TX Airport Directory (courtesy of Steve Cruse) depicted Andrau Airpark
as having 2 asphalt/concrete runways: 5,000' Runway 16/34 & 3,000' Runway 11/29.
There were already a large number of hangars at Andrau in 1963:
six large hangars, and 17 4-place hangars.
The manager was listed as Mrs. H. B. Andrau.
A 1968 photo by Dick Merrill “of the office for the Andrau Airpark.
I think Mrs. Andrau was living on the airport at that time.”
A summer 1977 photo by James Brackley of a Piper Navajo & a Cessna Citation jet in front of Andrau hangars.
James noted, “At that time the airport was a bustling operation with over 100 tenants on the field.”
A March 5, 1978 aerial view looking southeast at Andrau Airpark.
A March 5, 1978 aerial view showing the large number of hangars & planes at Andrau Airpark.
A 1979 photo by Ricky Baker taken while Robin Elston flew final approach to Andrau's Runway 16 in a Cessna 172.
A 1979 photo of Robin Elston in front of a Cessna 152, after he had flown his 3-leg solo flight,
with some of Andrau's hangars visible in the background.
Robin recalled, “I took flight training at Andrau from Norris Aviation operated by Mary Jane Norris in 1979.”
A 1979 photo by Robin Elston of a turboprop landing on Andrau's Runway 16 at night.
A circa 1980-81 photo of Mark Robinson in front of an A-26C Invader parked at the north end of Andrau.
Mark Robinson recalled visiting Andrau "twice in the early 1980's",
where he saw an A-26C Invader parked on the north end of the field.
"A group of Confederate Air Force folks were flying & maintaining this aircraft at the time.
I helped out on a sparkplug change & then saw it flying some time later when I was (again) visiting Houston.
There was what I think was a PacAero Learstar (executive Loadstar) based there.
I saw it fly one time, in 1981. Nicely maintained in a white/yellow/black paint job. I don't know who owned it."
Hurricane Alicia caused damage at Andrau in 1983,
flipping over at least one Cessna 152.
An undated (circa 1980s?) photo of a Citabria amongst Andrau's hangars (courtesy of Jeffrey).
According to Jeffrey, “That Citabria (N1174E) was owned & operated by Texas Taildraggers flight school (Joy Bowden).”
Andrew Haskins reported that he learned to fly in Citabria N1174E.
An undated (circa 1980s?) photo (courtesy of Jeffrey) of Andrau's “Westhiemer entrance sign”.
An entry from the 1985 TX Airport Directory (courtesy of Steve Cruse).
Ranger Aircraft Enterprises (a maintenance shop operated by Tom McDonald)
was located at Andrau in the 1980s.
Able Aviation was a flight school at Andrau, operated by Mary Able.
Walter Aviation moved to Andrau from Houston Southwest Airport in 1993 (according to Robin Elston).
The 1996 USGS aerial photo showed a total of 9 aircraft parked outside at Andrau.
Andrau Airpark was closed in 1998,
when the prices offered by developers for the land won out over continued operation of the airpark.
Apparently the Andrau family had been just waiting to sell,
as no improvements had been made to the facility in years - it looked pretty shabby.
According to Jim Schuler, “I used to work & fly out of there until it closed in 1998.
The youngest Andraus were waiting for the last of the eldest to pass on -
apparently it was set up that the field would remain open until a certain family member passed away.”
The Andrau property (755 acres) was purchased for $53 million in 1998 by Camden, a Houston realty company.
A 1998 aerial view by Jim Schuler looking east at Andrau Airpark, with the Houston skyline in the background.
A 1998 photo by Jim Schuler of the office of Walter Aviation at Andrau Airpark.
According to Peder Serkland, the airport was razed only a couple of months after being purchased.
As of 2001, upscale houses, a golf course and a large retail center
were under development on the former airport site.
The Royal Oaks golf course community was being built on about 500 acres of the airport site,
and the Royal Oaks Village shopping center will be built another 32 acre parcel.
Tim Kraemer contributed a poignant commentary to the closure of this field:
"Having grown up right near Andrau Airport
I really get a sad feeling deep down inside knowing now that the airport of my childhood memories is gone.
It seems like in the seventies everybody knew somebody who owned or flew a Cessna.
I really wish somehow it would go back the other way, and private aviation could be 'cool & cheap' again.
With all the technology available today, I can't understand why somebody can't produce cheap, safe planes anymore.
It seems with all the insane traffic congestion we face, the sky is the only place left to go.
With all the small airports gone, the likelihood of that happening is dwindling fast."
The 2002 USGS aerial photo showed that the site of the former Andrau Airpark is no longer even recognizable
as having been a former airfield.
The site of Andrau Airpark is located
southeast of the intersection of Richmond Avenue & Old Westheimer Road.
Thanks to Steve Cruse for providing information about Andrau.
See also: Houston Chronicle 2/17/01.
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