A death-defying air show on Nov. 19, 1911 inspired a Midland blacksmith to plunge ahead with his bold plan to conquer the clouds. By no means the first Texan to get hooked on flying, John Pliska would certainly not be the last.

Texas is well remembered as the birthplace of military aviation. Beginning in 1917, Kelly Field provided pilot training for the newly formed Army Air Corps, and Randolph Field was later known as “The West Point of the Air.” But civilian Texans’ love affair with the airplane began much earlier.

Bartee Haile writes This Week In Texas History which appears every Sunday. He welcomes your comments and questions barteehaile@gmail.com or P.O. Box 130011, Spring, TX 77393 and invites you to visit his website at barteehaile.com.

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