The Houston Air port System (HAS) is an important member of the infrastr ucture of our city. It provides Houston with a gateway to the world as exemplified in t he name of its flagship facility, George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The vision displayed in the c hoice of the name for the large airport demonstrates the aspirations that we, the people of Houston, have had for our city. Air travel has been a mainstay of the economic progress of Houston from the beginning with the first Houston municipal airport in 1937, which was named William P. Hobby Airport, af ter the Lieutenant Governor and publisher of the Houston Post newspaper. It was known also as “Hobby Field” to many old Houstonians.
Air travel grew with the rise of Houston as t he energy capital of the world. Bush Intercontinental airport began operations in 1969, and in 1981, Ellington Airport was added to the system. All of this activity has made HAS a major em ployer and participant in the economic system. A 2003 economic impact study found that t hese airports support over 151,000 regional jobs and contribute over $24 billion to the local economy.
In t he 1985-1986 academic year, the College of Science and Technology established the Airway Science program with the assistance of a grant from the Federal Aviation Agency. This program was developed under the leadership of Dr. Naomi Ledé. The primary t hrust of the program was to provide skilled persons to the workforce that manages the air port systems of the nation. The need for skilled people to operate t he national and local infrastructure of the airports should be apparent to anyone who uses the facilities. The airpor t environment has its own operating modality that exists in no other par t of the transportation sector. Hence, t here existed a very specialized area of education and training t hat TSU sought to satisfy. The initial degree program had two tracks, one emphasizing airport management and a second emphasizing airway computer science.
The Aviation Science degree program began accepting students in 1987. In the Spring of 1988, Professor I. Ric hmond Nettey became the Program Coordinator. There have been approximately 36 students to participate in the HAS-TSU internship program up to the present. Many TSU graduat es now have positions with HAS as result of their internships. At t he present time, there are 16 TSU graduates working for HAS. The major success storyof the program between HAS and Texas Southern University is the appointment of Perry Miller as Manager of William P. Hobby Airport.