A. J. High: A Positive Altitudeby
High Family circa 1943|
Photo Courtesy A.J. High and the 1940 Air Terminal Museum
you happen to visit Houston's 1940
Air Terminal Museum, you have a good chance of being greeted by Captain A.J.
Captain High is originally from Cleburne,
Texas where his father was a railroad engineer - the ultimate dream job for
boys of that era. A.J. learned to fly prior to the U.S. entry into WWII,
and was one of the first recruits to volunteer for service in what was then called
the U.S. Army Air Corps. The ultimate "dream "job" for boys of his era.
receiving his military wings, Lt. High piloted B-25s. (Be sure to ask him about
one particular flight in Sacramento, California.) He was then assigned to the
Aleutian Islands where his bomber group was staged to bomb Japan - had General
Doolittle's famed raid failed (This was the morale-building strike on the Japanese
capital featured in the wartime movie Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo). But Doolittle's
raid succeeded and Captain High was then reassigned "stateside" to train
crews for B-17s and B-29s.|
After the war, thousands of discharged servicemen
packed the country's buses and the Trailways Bus Company created Mercury
Airlines. This short-lived airline not only filled the transportation gap
(as automobile plants retooled to the civilian market), but it also allowed Trailways
executives to draw a second salary as airline directors - getting around the still-in-effect
wartime salary ceilings.
High was piloting this Trans-Texas Airways plane when it posed for a publicity
photo over the San
Courtesy A.J. High and the 1940 Air Terminal Museum
of Mercury's first (and last) pilots was A. J. High. After Mercury folded its
wings, Mr. High then went to Trans-Texas Airline which later became Texas
International. Even mandatory retirement (for commercial pilots) didn't ground
Mr. High and he continued flying for the corporate world. He became a founding
member of the Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society and sits on the board
of directors for the 1940
Air Terminal Museum.
A.J. High in front of his display at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum in August of
High, who has "never scraped the paint" on any of the hundreds of planes he has
flown has truly forgotten more about Houston's aviation history than most historians
know. He also confirmed a rumor that we had heard of the airport once being renamed
(briefly) Howard Hughes Airport - in an effort to lure Mr. Hughes back to his
boyhood home of Houston.
Mr. High stated that the Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society has documentation
of the renaming.
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