Scholes International Airport at Galveston
|Continent: North America||Country: United States||Region: Texas|
|Scholes International Airport at Galveston|
|Overview map||Google Maps|
|Clearance||135.35 WHEN GLS ATCT CLSD|
Scholes International Airport is the former Galveston Municipal Airport that dates back to 1931. It was renamed Corrigan Airport in 1938 for Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan, a Galveston native and 1900 Storm survivor, who worked at Ryan Aeronautical Company and helped to build Charles Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis". Later he piloted his own 1929 Curtiss Robin OX-5 monoplane named "Sunshine" from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, to Ireland allegedly due to a "compass error" after being denied permission to fly that same trans-Atlantic route by the U.S. Bureau of Air Commerce many times before. This incident earned him his nickname.
During World War II, Galveston Municipal Airport was redesignated a U.S. Army Air Corps base and named "Galveston Army Air Field", U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, using funds from the Civil Aeronautics Authority, constructed three 6,000-foot-long, hard-surface runways at the airport to accommodate army aircraft.
In January 1943, Galveston AAFld. was officially activated had the 46th Bombardment Group, flying the Douglas A-20 Havoc in the anti-submarine role in the Gulf of Mexico until replaced by the 10th Antisubmarine Squadron, flying RM-37 Lockheed Venturas.
The Field was primarily used for replacement crew gunnery training by the 407th Fighter-Bomber Group, with targets being towed to the gunnery range at nearby Oyster Bay. The installation cost $7 million and at its peak had some 2,500 personnel assigned. It was officially deactivated on November 15, 1945, with ownership reverting back to the City of Galveston.
As late as 1948, it was an active seaplane base per Sectional Aeronautical chart SA SAC O-5.
GLS was named after its first manager, Robert D. Scholes (1899-1960), who ran Galveston Municipal Airport from 1931 until 1960. Operated and maintained by the City of Galveston, GLS is now a general aviation airport serving diverse aviation segments. It has enjoyed the service of many airlines in its history, including Trans-Texas Airways (forerunner to Texas International Airlines), Braniff Airways, and Houston Metro Airlines.
GLS's Master Plan has considered the potential return of commercial airline service as well as the increasing trend of corporate aircraft and oil industry helicopter activity. In preparation for increased corporate activity, the ultimate plan considers the extension of the primary runway ( 17/35 )from 6001 x 150 ft. to 7,100 feet. Currently, it can accommodate most aircraft, up to a Boeing 767.
GLS is an Airport with 12 hours a day air traffic control (0600-1800), with direct clearance delivery service to Houston TRACON after the tower is closed. The Class D surface area changes to Class E and airport is uncontrolled. Airport lighting includes HIRL, MIRL, MALSR, REIL’s and PAPI’s as well as Lighted taxiway and runway signage. It has an "A" ARFF Index. The 1,200-acre airport offers a terminal, 24 hour fixed base operator, 24 hour weather services, a U.S. Customs agent on call, and state-of-the-art navigational aids with precision approaches providing all-weather capabilities. It has been used as a fueling stop for transient military aircraft due to a Military Area of Operations in the Gulf of Mexico. It is also the destination airport for fixed wing ambulances tranfering patients to the Shriner's Burn Center.
Of the 220+ aircraft based at GLS, 50+ are helicopters belonging to Air Logistics, Era, Evergreen, PHI, Tex-Air, and other oil industry vendors.
The Lone Star Flight Museum is located on the north side of GLS and boasts a large collection of flying antique warbirds as well as the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame.
Coordinates: 29° 15′ 55.16″ N, 94° 51′ 37.46″ W
GLS ATIS Freq: 119.275, Phone Number (ASOS): (409) 740-9248
Official Spotting Locations
The Main Terminal Building has an outdoor observation area on the ground floor. To access the area, enter the main terminal doors and walk straight through and exit the ramp side doors. There is a large yard before you get to the gate leading to the flight line. A second floor observation deck complete with tables and chairs, can only be accessed from an outdoor stairway in the outside yard on the ramp side of the terminal. It is best for photographing fixed-wing general aviation up close when they taxi in to the tie-down area. It is also best for photographing all of the inbound oil industry helicopters as all helicopter approaches are made from the north. Evergreen is the only major carrier who will not fly or air-taxi past the terminal as their base is the only one north of the terminal building.
Other Spotting Locations
Inside the airport grounds
There are multiple parking lots running the length of the east side of the airport with a 6 foot chain-link fence with 3 rows of barbed wire on top, a ladder might be in order. Some lots are shared, and some are owned by a specific company. A courtesy visit into the company offices can get you permission to photograph from the lot, and in many cases, it can lead to an escort onto the ramp as well.
Lone Star Flight Museum
Each year, the Lone Star Flight Museum holds fly days and air shows. The north side of the ramp is closed off and one can photograph south down the ramp, catching departures and arrivals of the off-shore oil industry helicopters as well as air show participants.
The end of Cessna Drive west of Comanche Street is is a prime position for photographing aircraft in flight using runways 17/35. It is located between the ARFF Station and the new Control Tower. It is also a prime location during the Lone Star Flight Museum's fly days and air shows, as it is the closest one can get to take offs and landings. Aircraft are much closer that the FAA requirements of 500 feet as they turn in to make passes in front of the crowd located 200 yards north of that location.
Comanche Street near Terminal Drive is a good location for photographing helicopters that service the oil industry.
Stewart Road near 83rd street in the morning hours and towards 99th Road in the afternoon hours are excellent for spotting or photography.
Avenue V 1/2
The dead end of Avenue V 1/2 near 99th Street is a perfect spot when 35/17 is active, and not bad for when 31/13 is the active but best to photograph in either location in the afternoon.
From Stewart Road, drive northbound on 99th street untill it forks. Take the right fork onto Travel Air to the end. Turn right onto Airways Lane and stop at the dead end. It is best to photograph from this location in the afternoon.
Teichman Road near 91st Street is located across Offats Bayou from GLS and affords a different angle to spot from. Depending on the active and the position of the sun, you might have to move east or west down Teichman Road.
For those who would like to merge boating and aircraft spotting, Offats Bayou lends itself to excellent access to the north side of GLS. There is a public boat ramp on 61st Street just south of IH 45. GLS is no more than a mile west from the launch.
Locations to Avoid
There are no unmarked Locations to Avoid. Galveston Police Department patrols periodically, as well as the occasional Galveston County Sheriff's Department unit. Both agencies are accustomed to aircraft spotters and treat them well if they do make contact. There is no airport police nor are there Airport Operations cars that patrol.
Light general aviation aircraft, and the occasional transient bizjets can be seen at GLS.
The most frequent traffic is that of the helicopters that support the off shore petrochemical industry. Of the larger vendors:
AIR LOGISTICS flies Sikorsky S-76s, Hueys;
ERA flies Augusta A-119s, Eurocopter EC-135s, Sikorsky S-61s;
EVERGREEN flies Eurocopter AS-350s, Hueys, Sikorsky S-61s;
PHI (Petrolium Helicopters Inc.) flies Bell JetRangers, Messerschmidt BO-105s, Eurocopter EC-135s, Sikorsky S-76s.
The Lone Star Flight Museum has a large number of static warbirds, and also maintains a fleet of air worthy warbirds including: Vega B-17 Flying Fortress, North American B-25 Mitchell Bomber, Douglas SBD Dauntless, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, Vought F4U Corsair, General Motors (Eastern Aircraft) TBM Avenger, Grumman F6F Hellcat, Grumman F8F Bearcat, General Motors FM-2 Wildcat, Supermarine Spitfire, Canadian Car and Foundry Hurricane, North American AT-6 Texan, Beech AT-11 Kansan, Cessna AT-17 Bobcat, Stinson L-5, Douglas DC-3 Sky Train