HIGH OVER HOUSTON
A Positive Altitude
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. High.
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.
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 2006.
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.
Shoe Horses, Don't They? October
1, 2006 Column
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