75 Years Ago Today – Lubbock’s First Commercial Airlines Flight
75 years ago, July 1, 1945, was a landmark day for the history of Lubbock, and KFYO was a part of it. This date in 1945 marked the first commercial airline flight to Lubbock.
The first commercial flight to Lubbock was a Braniff Airlines flight from Dallas to Lubbock that landed at 11:10 a.m. KFYO had reporters broadcasting on-site for the historic event, along with interviews of Braniff Airways executives.
As Dotray reports from the A-J archives:
"Wes Mitchell says his father, Edwin Rhea Mitchell, piloted the first flight to Lubbock. His father, who went by Rhea, was a Lockney native. Rhea took ground school flight lessons while at Texas Tech, and joined the Army Air Corp during World War II.
"Rhea was contacted by Braniff Airlines to fly commercial airplanes. Rhea moved to Dallas and flew for Braniff Airlines in 1944, and flew for about three years. One of his flights was from Dallas to Lubbock on July 1, 1945."
After a ceremony at Lubbock's airfield, the plane then headed to Albuquerque and then back to Lubbock to complete three flights in one day.
The site of Lubbock's first airfield eventually morphed into the present-day Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport which includes private airplane hangars and facilities for major shipping companies including UPS and FedEx.
Editor's Note: When this historic event occurred, KFYO and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal were co-owned. From 1936-1972 KFYO & the Lubbock A-J were co-owned, along with the Amarillo Globe News and 710 KGNC in Amarillo. When FCC rules were changed in the early 1970s, KFYO was sold in 1972 by the parent company of the Lubbock A-J & Amarillo Globe News (what eventually became Morris Communications) to comply with ownership rules.