The Robert Mueller Municipal Airport was located just a few miles northeast of downtown Austin, Texas and served as the city's only commercial airport from 1936 until 1999. After closing its doors, it was eventually designated to be a planned urban development for the city of Austin. Groundbreaking for the new Mueller Community began in 2007.
The event credited for beginning aviation in Austin was a stop on Cal Rodger's (Calbraith Perry Rodgers) famous flight of the "Vin Fiz". As part of a promotional type event for the Ridgetop subdivision just north of Hyde Park, Rodgers landed in an open field on October 20th, 1911. The actual location of his landing was somewhere between 45th and 51st streets, and Duval and Red River. This was one of his 23 planned stops around the state of Texas before continuing west on the transcontinental flight towards the Pacific. The spectacle was observed by three or four dozen local Austin residents.
Although some aviation continued in Austin, it was just prior to the 1920s that the United States Army began practicing taking off and landing biplanes on a small dirt strip known as Penn Field. Penn Field was located just south of St. Edward's University around what is today the intersection of South Congress and Alpine Road and marks what was the first officially sanctioned landing field in Austin.
Incidentally the name of the airstrip, Penn Field, was selected to honor the first central Texas pilot to lose his life in World War I as a result of aerial combat.
Planning for Mueller
Although Rodgers touched down in 1911 and Penn Field was in use, it would still be 25 years before Austin would first open the doors to commercial traffic.
In the late 1920's, the Austin City Council petitioned the Army Corps at Kelly Field in San Antonio to send a pilot over the Austin city limits. His job was to find and select the most suitable site for a municipal airport. The Army sent Lt. Claire Chennault, later to become the famous General Chennault of the World War II “Flying Tigers,” who recommended the Matthews farm tract located four miles northeast of downtown Austin (on what is today the Mueller Community).
In 1928 the voting populous of Austin approved bonds for building an municipal airport. The Robert Mueller Municipal Airport would be the first in Austin and was named after city council member Robert Mueller. Mueller died in January of 1927 while still serving the City of Austin, and sadly just a few short months after he was elected to office. The Austin American (the newspaper at the time) wrote the following about Mueller:
"...it was helping his city which has probably hastened his death, for on that night, according to members of the city council, he told them he was ill about 10 o'clock, and they asked him to stay a little while longer for the budget was almost planned and they needed his guidance. He remained, and every little while he would remark he was sick, but finally, with plans nearly completed, he went home at 11:30 o'clock."
The Robert Mueller airport was officially dedicated on October 14, 1930 although it wouldn't open for commercial service until 1936.
Robert Mueller Municipal Airport closed to commercial passenger traffic on May 22, 1999, and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport opened to the public on May 23, 1999. Robert Mueller Municipal Airport remained open for general aviation use through June 22, 1999.
view more ads »