Brownsville: Sand, Surf and Sky


Brownsville: Sand, Surf and Sky  (May Issue, 2013)

By Harry and Linda Kaye Perez


Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport (KBRO) has a unique and interesting history. In 1929 Charles Lindberg landed here after a 5½-hour flight from Mexico City, establishing the first airmail service with Mexico. Among those waiting to greet him in Brownsville on that historic day was none other than Amelia Earhart.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and throughout the remainder of WWII, the U.S. Army Air Corps used the airfield in a joint military/civilian agreement. The Army, Navy and the Civil Air Patrol utilized the airfield as a base for patrolling for enemy submarines in waters of the Gulf of Mexico and it was a training site for pilots who ferried aircraft to various theaters of the war. In 1946 the airfield returned to total civilian control and became the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport.

While the Brownsville Airport has a rich history, it also claims to be one of the two airports to be the south most locations on the continental United States and misses this designation by 1.5 degrees latitude, bowing only to Key West International (KEYI) in Florida. But there is no denying it is the south most airport in Texas.

The Brownsville Airport continues to be heavily used by general aviation, including many airplanes coming in from Mexico. It has three runways: 13L - 31R, 3000’x75’ (fair asphalt); 13R - 31L, 7,399’x150’ (good asphalt); and 17 - 35, 6000’x150’ (good asphalt). It has a control tower (118.9, 1200 to 0600Z) and maintains six approaches to accommodate the IFR Flight Plan: ILS or LOC, RNAV (GPS), LOC BC, VOR/DME, VOR or TACAN A. Check the A/FD for further information

Southmost Aviation is one of two FBOs at the airport. The Douglas family has been providing excellent service since 1967, initially providing maintenance then expanding into fuel concession, and finally a full-service FBO. To this day, it has remained a family business. The elder Douglas passed away in 1997, but his five sons who had previously been only the muscle of the operation found their niche in the FBO business as well. Jon heads up maintenance; Kenny – parts; David - line service; Jeff – accounting; and oldest brother, Ben, is General Manager. Facilities include a pilot’s lounge and kitchen, flight-planning room with computerized weather, tie downs and hangar parking. They provide 100LL and Jet A fuel, and concierge services including arrangements for a limo or taxi. Service at Southmost is impeccable; they treat you like family.


Away from the Airport: For those sun worshipers and water lovers, you will find some of the most beautiful beaches in Texas just 20 miles from KBRO on South Padre Island. Also on the island you will find a wide variety of restaurants to suit every taste. It will be well worth renting a car for the day and taking in those simple pleasures, or stay for a week or two. Accommodations of every kind, from single hotel rooms to elegant condos, are abundant. If your trip takes you there during the summer months, you might want to make arrangements early. During the off-season, there should be no problem finding just the right place for you. And once you have had your fill, stand with your back to the Gulf and look to the north; you will find plenty of new places to fly to in the entire Lone Star State.


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   © Harry Perez 2012