Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart
and Early Aviation in Hobbs


The age of aviation reached Hobbs in the 1920's with visits from flying pioneers Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart.  Lindbergh was reportedly establishing mail routes in the Southwest when he landed on a pasture owned by Grandma Hobbs.  The Hobbs' pasture was a frequent landing place for pilots.  The cowboys claimed that Lindbergh would land when he saw a chuck wagon and have lunch with the cowboys.

The little girl on the tricycle in the photo below is Minnie Mae Dalmont, the daughter of Sam and Winnie Dalmont, who was born in 1920.

Lindbergh photos and information courtesy of Ken Cartlidge.


The history of aviation in Hobbs also includes an unplanned visit by Amelia Earhart while making the first transcontinental flight by a woman in 1928.  As Amelia was flying westward in her open-cockpit plane, she ran into some bumpy air close to Sweetwater, Texas.  Her map flew out and she could not catch it.  She continued on until darkness approached, when she spotted the new boomtown of Hobbs below. She made a landing on East Broadway and spent the night with the J.J. Carson family.  While here, she telephoned her mother from the Hobbs Hotel and dined at the Owl Cafe.  The next morning, she refueled at Thomson's Grocery and resumed her journey.  


Here is an account of her visit to Hobbs from a book by
Susan Butler entitled "East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart"

    "Navigation was a serious challenge.  This was Amelia’s first long-distance flight, and she learned how hard it was to navigate (or avigate, as aviators called it back then) with the inadequate maps of the day and the lack of defined fields.  And it got harder as the  populated East gave way to the less populated Midwest and the more sparsely settled Southwest, and even harder as cities gave way to featureless towns, towns became smaller and then became hamlets—just clusters of houses really; and harder still when the empty spaces between the settlements grew, and the farms turned into the endless plains of the Southwest.  She learned dead reckoning; she had no choice.
    The open cockpit made it even more challenging.  The wind rushing about made the maps blow around.  Amelia resorted to pinning the map she was using to her knee with a safety pin, but the pinning and unpinning as she flew off the edge of one map and onto another was never easy and became difficult when there were other things to do.  West of Fort Worth, Texas, heading for Pecos in bumpy air, she was pumping gas from the reserve tank and didn’t, momentarily, pin, and suddenly the map of west Texas blew away.  She followed her last compass course southwest, but then in pursuit of signs of life, and needing gasoline, she followed cars on a road going northwest, followed the road and the cars into the purple haze of the setting sun, and finally saw a small cluster of houses grouped around an oil well, one road running through.  She had to land before darkness fell and rolled right through town on its one road, its Main Street, to find out she had flown clear across Texas and was in Hobbs, New Mexico.  The townspeople helped her fold up the wings of the little Avian and move it to a safe place for the night (an overhelpful cowboy managed to put his foot through a wing; a piece of tablecloth was glued down over it), fed her at the Owl Café, found her some gasoline, and gave her a bed.  The next morning she took off down Main Street, with more help from her new friends, but still without a map, heading southwest as instructed, looking for the Pecos River and a railroad line, her markers for the town of Pecos.
    It was a short flight, only a hundred miles.  The engine started to sound rough, but she thought it would work its way through and ignored it.  She set down in Pecos, where she ended up at a Rotary Club lunch, then took off for El Paso, and then suddenly real trouble—the engine started kicking up badly—and she had to put down in the desert amidst the mesquite bushes.  Friendly passersby helped her tow her plane, its wings again folded, down the highway back to Pecos.  It turned out the Hobbs gasoline was bad and had ruined the engine valves.  She remained there for the five days it took the mechanics to bring the engine back into working order."

Permission for use provided by the author.



Amelia Earhart's plane being refueled in Hobbs in 1928.


Amelia Earhart's "Tiger Moth" airplane in Hobbs in 1928.


Thomson Grocery Store on East Broadway.
Amelia Earhart fueled up here and continued her round-trip
transcontinental flight.

In 2001, periodontist Carlene Mendieta, from Sonoma, California, recreated Amelia Earhart's transcontinental flight, stopping in Hobbs along the way.  A large crowd greeted her at the Hobbs Municipal Airport and she spent several days in the area when flights nationwide were grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration following the events of September 11, 2001.





















While in Hobbs, Dr. Mendieta enjoyed
breakfast at Casey's in the MiniMall,
recreating the meal of fried eggs, ham
and biscuits that Amelia Earhart had
on her visit to Hobbs.
Read more about the recreation of this
historic flight at:
www.ameliaflight.com




The opening of Me-Tex Airport, July 23, 1937


Airmail arrived in Hobbs in May 1940.




Photo and notes courtesy of Max Clampitt
Continental Airlines began service on May 15, 1940 and continued until November 5, 1963.
They were replaced by Trans-Texas Airlines.





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