1940 Air Terminal, Houston, Texas

Houston has two major airports, Bush Intercontinental (IAH) north of town and William P. Hobby (HOU) in the southwest corridor. United usually operates it’s flights from IAH and Southwest Airlines dominates Hobby. As we all try to return to some sense of normality through a pandemic, I look to the airports to gauge what level of comfort we are taking in being around one another.

Travel seems to be the one area that regardless of your religious or political views, in an effort to progress to where we want to go, we set aside differences and squish uncomfortably next to one another. I think there is something to be said for that, but am toying around with the idea for a larger conclusion to draw.

In my lifetime, I have seen the security of the TSA ramp up from minimal to what we experience post 9/11 protocol. I can remember a time when a boarding pass was not required to access a gate. It is wild to me to think of a time where smoking was permitted on aircraft as well as not having a 2+ hour wait for security before a flight to make sure you made it on.

Recently, I applied for TSA Precheck ahead of a big trip. I have still been waiting for my Known Traveler Number (KTN), but the idea of not having to undo my belt is soothing and as close as I might find myself flying like it “was in the olden days”. 😂

The location featured this week, however holds most of Houston’s flight history. Located near Hobby, the 1940 Air Terminal is a museum of Houston aviation. Built in 1940 with Public Works Administration (PWA) funds, architect Joseph Finger designed an art deco style center for air commerce. The building was the only commercial air terminal in Houston until 1954, hosting many residents until 1978. The building sat vacant for nearly 20 years when the Houston Aviation Alliance worked to save the building from threat of demolition. Since that intervention in 1998, the staged renovation of the building has allowed the display of aviation artifacts and the rich and intriguing history of aircraft in Houston. This place is a real gem to visit.

The track this week is Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird”, which almost started as a joke in my head with the aviation posts scheduled this month. Last week, I posted about the day trip that I took to capture the library. However, in my quest for the right song to pair, I stumbled across Skynyrd’s deep catalogue and cathartically started to deeply sing along.

Free Bird almost was known as a joke at many concerts that I have attended. Where Skynyrd penned and performed the song, ultimately, someone would yell out the title randomly to the many other bands that I have been fortunate to see perform.

As I think about the words of the song, about leaving and remaining the same; an impossible task, I think that it is fitting for a building that was almost abandoned before it’s restoration. Something just clicks. And so, instead of the ironic yell of some drunk guy in a concert crowd, I am singing this southern rock classic.

I hope this week, you too feel as free as a bird. I hope we take care of one another. And, I hope that this KTN shows up before my big trip so that I can keep my belt on.

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