Dallas’ Aerial Police Reserve — 1921
by Paula Bosse
by Paula Bosse
On September 5, 1921 — Labor Day — Dallas inaugurated its Aerial Police Reserve, comprised of 15 auxiliary policemen-pilots who patrolled from the skies, led by Chief W. C. Rice. Newspaper stories said that it was only the second city in the United States (after New York City) to have a force of “fly cops.” (Oklahoma was probably a little miffed at this braggadocio, since they had at least a dozen such “air police” squads around the state.)
Dallas Morning News, Sept. 4, 1921
Mayor Sawnie Aldredge was a passenger in one of the “aeroplanes” which flew him around the city on that Labor Day 100 years ago, giving the relatively new mayor a birds-eye view of Dallas. Other planes performed a display of the type of aerial crime-fighting they would now be able to assist the terrestrial police with, using the wireless police communication system devised by Henry Garrett (read how that led to the origin of radio station WRR here). This was a huge step for the Dallas Police Department.
Mayor Sawnie Aldredge, in mayoral goggles
Read the coverage of the day’s events in the article below (click to see a larger image).
Aerial Age Weekly, Oct. 31, 1921
Another photo of Mayor Aldredge (sadly, sans goggles) seated in his chauffeured airship at the Labor Day air-cop exhibition at the Oak Cliff Aviation Field.
Sources & Notes
Photos and articles from Aerial Age Weekly (Oct. 31, 1921), and from The Dallas Morning News.
Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.
My father, Lt. Col. Harold Grant and his brother Billy, who became the head of the FAA in OK City, owned and flight school there and 8 piper Cub planes at the airfield located at what finally became just an intersection where the famous barbecue joint was located. My father went back into active duty for the Korean war, and that was the end of it. I have some pics taken from the hanger which I’m trying to find. I was born in 1949.
Paula, I want to visit with you about one of my early films, Stoney’s Greatest Hit. We’d visited some and then I got busy.
Another very interesting post!
I had never heard of Oak Cliff Aviation Field and I couldn’t find it on any old maps or the Fairchild 1930 aerial surveys at SMU. Found an article in the DMN about the aerial police force demonstration and they called it McGraw Field. I found McGraw Aviation Field on a 1921 Sanborn map and it was located just northeast of Plowman and Dealey Avenues so it probably went away when work on the Trinity River levees started in 1928.
DMN article: https://bit.ly/3D4a958
Sanborn map: https://maps.lib.utexas.edu/maps/sanborn/d-f/txu-sanborn-dallas-1922-502.jpg