Trinidad airport promoted through big air show promotion in 1929

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Holloway Field dedication advertisement

Dedication of Trinidad’s Holloway Airfield

was advertised in a September 19, 1929 Chronicle-News ad.

Trinidad businessmen, working through the local chamber of commerce, paved the way in 1929 for the building of Trinidad’s first airport.

A large piece of land had been purchased 10 miles north of the city near Chicosa canyon and preliminary work was done to clear the land and fence it in. Early in September plans were announced for the official dedication of what would be named Holloway Field.

A big air show was scheduled, with proceeds from ticket sales to be used for further improvements at the airfield. Already, announcement had been made that an air express company had selected the Trinidad airfield to be a stopping point on its regular service route.

“Trinidad is on the mapped line of the Mid-Continent Air Express Company’s passenger service between Pueblo and El Paso, Texas,” said an article in the September 8, 1929 issue of the Chronicle-News.  “Today the first of the giant 8-passenger Fokker Super-Universal airliners flies to Trinidad...The new airway system will be the most extensive ever attempted in this section of the country. Denver will be the north terminus and there will be stops in Pueblo, Walsenburg, Trinidad, Raton, Las Vegas and Albuquerque.”

The article explained that the airline also operated another passenger route – this one with Pueblo as the north terminus – that made stops in La Junta, Lamar, Holly, then headed into Kansas for stops at Syracuse, Dodge City and Wichita before completing the route in Kansas City.

When the first plane landed in Trinidad to pick up passengers, there were hundreds of curious local residents gathered to welcome the Mid- Continent airline flight and congratulate the crew, who took a few minutes to return the friendly gesture. Soon, however, the doors closed and the engines were started and the flight took off again.

The following week another story appeared in the newspaper to begin promoting the upcoming official dedication of the new airfield:

GREATEST AIR SHOW IN TRINIDAD HISTORY SET FOR NEXT SUNDAY.

“Airplanes of many types will take to the air in Trinidad next Sunday when Holloway airfield is officially dedicated.”

Six planes from the Colorado Springs-based company Alexander Aircrafts will participate, along with two planes from Raton, one from Salida, a 10-passenger plane from Western Air Express in Pueblo, and at least five National Guard planes from Denver.

“It will be a real aerial show, the likes of which southern Colorado has never seen before, and the proceeds from the small admission fee of one half dollar will go towards improvements at Trinidad’s new airfield,” said Trinidad Chamber of Commerce President J.C. Caldwell.

“Some of the planes will take up passengers, others will perform stunts, and for the first time here an aviator will leap from a plane and descend in a parachute.”  

The air show was scheduled to get underway at 10 a.m. and continue all day, the chamber of commerce official said, adding that large crowds of people from the Trinidad area, as well as from northern New Mexico, were expected to attend.

“A couple of thousand half dollars collected from sightseers will go a long way toward the immediate improvements needed at the airport.”

In another story two days later, the number of planes expected for the “Great Air Circus” had swelled. Colorado Governor Adams had given approval for six National Guard planes to fly to Trinidad for the day, and another five planes were expected from Colorado Springs.

A Ford tri-motor plane

A Ford tri-motor plane similar to the vintage 1920s mail delivery aircraft shown, probably landed in Trinidad on September 22, 1929 to pick up the mail on the first air-express route scheduled for the southern Colorado run.

The press release stated that, “Western Air Express will be represented and a Travelair plane is listed among the number to show here. Thousands of people who will gather at the airport will glimpse something entirely new to this community.”

Local businesses were eager to ride on the tailwind of the airshow. Among the advertisements in that week’s Chronicle-News  were ones from Kapelke Jewelers, which was offeringan aviator ’s watch, and Triangle Chevrolet, which announced it was “Flying High With Super Values” on used cars. The Trinidad Community Stores (including Flynn’s Grocery and Baratono’s) said they were “the Eagles of Modern Merchandising Riding the Wings of Progress.”

It was a huge build-up for a show which promised to be sensational. The 10-passenger airplane which had touched down earlier in the month had drawn hundreds of people, so the airshow was expected to pull in an even bigger crowd and yield some much-needed cash for the airport development fund.

Unfortunately, the hype far exceeded the performance. The high-flying hopes of the organizers were quickly grounded when the aviators who had promised a spectacular show turned out instead to be ‘no shows.’

The headline in Monday’s Chronicle-News  summarized the community’s disappointment:

TRINIDAD AIR SHOW FELL FAR SHORT OF EXPECTATIONS

Throngs Sadly Disappointed When Only Four Planes Show Up.  

“Thru no fault of the chamber of commerce, the highly anticipated flying circus was a failure. Only four airplanes of an advertised 12 or 15 actually showed up, and there was no stunt flying or parachute drop to entertain the large crowds who were left with nothing to see but the passenger planes giving people rides.”

Neither of the airline companies made good on their promises to send planes, nor did the governor deliver on the expected National Guard airplanes.

When the chamber of commerce president called the governor’s office to inquire why the planes didn’t come, he was told “there was no appropriation to take care of the expedition to Trinidad.” No explanation was offered as to why someone didn’t phone and cancel prior to Sunday.

The one scheduled event which did take place as planned was the arrival of the big Ford tri-motor plane at 2:30 p.m. to pick up the first batch of airmail letters from Trinidad. To the cheers of the crowd, the pilot climbed down, gathered the mail, then got back into the plane and taxied across the bumpy dirt field for take-off.

The Chronicle-News reported one somewhat comforting fact about Sunday’s air circus:

“Folks who attended the Trinidad air show and were disappointed have consolation – Pueblo had a worse one!

The scheduled aviation meet at the state fair last week was a ‘frost.’ The Curtiss service in Denver promised eight planes and only two appeared and the state promised eight National Guard planes and the three which showed up flew about the field for a few minutes, then took off for home. So, it looks like Trinidad is not alone in disappointment in this flying business!!”

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