Early setback didn’t ground Haddaway

Date: March 26, 1985
Location: Fort Worth, TX
By: Dan Reed
Newspaper: Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Page: D1, D4

One or the best things that ever happened lo George Haddaway came when the Fort Worth Star-Telegram refused to hire him in
June 1930.

The self-described black sheep or his North Side family took the rejection by his hometown paper in stride and went on to become one of the world’s most prominent aviation writers, publishers and historians.

Earlier this month, Haddaway, 75, was awarded the J. Erick Jonsson Award for his outspoken, sometimes blunt, support for establishing an airport midway between Fort Worth and Dallas and developing it into one of the world’s largest air transportation facilities. The award was given by the Dallas/ Fort Worth Airport Board.

After graduating from the University of Texas in 1930, a promised job at the Star-Telegram fell through. In the midst or the Depression, the paper was firing reporters, not hiring them.

That setback, in roundabout fashion, led Haddaway to found Southern Fl1ght magazine. He published the magazine every month for 43 yeas, and in the process he became one of the most influential advocates of commercial aviation in history.

Growing up on Fort Worth’s North Side, Haddaway’s life was linked to aviation early and naturally. As a boy he hitched rides to Meacham Field to watch the barnstormers fly. In 1921, when Haddaway was 12, his next-door neighbor, barnstormer Dutch Bartgis, took him flying for the first time.

“Fort Worth was the cradle of commercial aviation in this country, he said. “Amon Carter (Sr., publisher of the Star-Telegram) was Mr. Aviation in Texas. There were all sorts of training fields around Fort Worth during World War I. And after that Meacham Field was a busy little airport with barnstormers and whatnot. Some of the real famous ones flew out of there.”

In 1932 Haddaway and A.T. Barrett Jr. formed Southern Flight. Eventually it became simply Flight Magazine.

“I was educated in English and literature and my passion was flying. So I found a way to put the two together so I could make money doing something I enjoyed,” Haddaway said.

“We never missed a month with the magazine, although sometimes we were just one step ahead of the sheriff,” he said. “We went bankrupt three times in the 193Os, but I refused to admit it. Somehow we hung on.

“I stayed there until 1972, when I sold it, I stayed on as a consultant until 1974. Now it’s called Flight Crew and it’s a highly sophisticated, technical aviation magazine.”

In 1938, after struggling financially, Haddaway found permanent financing in Dallas and moved the magazine headquarters there. “Most of my advertisers were in Dallas and I found financing there, so it was a natural move to make. But I didn’t want to move,” he said.

If Haddaway had done nothing else but to publish and write for Flight, his position 1n aviation history would be secure. But he was far more than a publisher and writer.

A pilot himself, during World War II Haddaway commanded a ragtag fleet or 30 planes based at Beaumont as part of the Civilian Air Defense Service, the forerunner of the Civil
Air Patrol. Their Job was to protect U.S. ships in coastal waters from German submarines.

During his long career he served as a volunteer under six administrators of the Federal Aviation Administration. He helped to draft important safety and economic standards that assured the survival of civil aviation in the 1950s. He was one of the first to see the value of the helicopter for business aviation. He supported the development of short haul and feeder airlines as a way of helping cities grow and prosper. And he pushed for airport development around the nation.

“No airport ever built has ever been built too big,” Haddaway said. “Not even D/FW. I was one of the ones responsible for the state legislation regarding zoning that protects airports like D/FW.”

His role as a key adviser in the establishment and development of D/FW in the late 1960s and early 1970s is what earned him the D/FW Board’s Jonsson award.

“The idea of an airport midway between Fort Worth and Dallas had been kicking around since the 1930s, but there was so much parochialism it’d never gotten anywhere,” he said. “Amon Carter was a big aviation booster, but his dislike for Dallas – and many Dallas people’s dislike for Fort Worth – kept that dream from ever going anywhere. In fact, the only two Dallasites you ever saw at parties out at Amon’s ranch were me and John W. Carpenter Sr., and that’s because we both supported a midway airport.

“But the real fathers of D/FW airport aren’t people sitting here in the Metroplex. It was the federal government who came in and told the two cities that they had to have an airport in the middle to serve both cities,” he said.

“I’d long said you couldn’t certificate major airlines to fly to two cities just 30 miles apart. Economically you couldn’t do that,” he said. “I never did see Fort Worth and Dallas as two different communities, or as 20 different communities. But there was so much parochialism around that it took the federal government to finally force us to build D/FW.”

When he retired from Flight 10 years ago, Haddaway turned his attention to his untiring love for books about aviation. That’s when, at age 65, his reputation as a world-class historian began to blossom.

Back in 1963 Haddaway donated his extensive and priceless collection of first editions of aviation books, technical papers and aviation artifacts to the University of Texas. The collection moved in 1974 to more spacious quarters at UT-Dallas’ library and combined with the personal library of another aviation buff, G. Edward Rice. The collection, complete with priceless artworks and rare books, is one or the leading aviation research centers in the world.

Rice became the collection’s curator. Haddaway became its chief fund-raiser, on a volunteer basis.

Now he’s retiring, again. This time he’ll devote much of his attention to his favorite charity group, Wings of Hope, of which he is board chairman.

“It’s an aviation charity,” he said. “We started out helping a medical mission in Africa and we saved it from collapse. Now we fly supplies into some of the most remote parts of the world. We don’t take any government funds. We do everything with private financing and gifts and we use our own airplanes.”

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