It’s pretty well known that our first three cities were Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, which was referred to as the “Golden Triangle” between the three major Texas cities.
Rollin’s first venture in the airline world, his Wild Goose Flying Service, also operated exclusively within the Lone Star State, but much smaller locations that proved to be unsustainable to for scheduled service on the Beech 18s these flights were operated on. When he met with Herb to discuss its liquidation, the idea of giving it another shot to bigger cities with bigger planes was born, and the rest as we say was history just a few years later when Southwest Airlines finally got off the ground on June 18, 1971.
But there are a few common misconceptions about what that first day’s service was like—we didn’t go into Hobby, and it was actually more of an upside-down V shaped route map instead of the triangle that we usually think of it as. Yes, we did fly to Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, but to get between Houston and San Antonio, one would need to first visit the Big D.
On November 14, 1971, the golden triangle was finally completed when the first Houston to San Antonio took place, and to what would technically become our fourth Station—Houston’s Hobby Airport. For the next six months, we operated from both Intercontinental and Hobby, until all operations were consolidated to Hobby based on how easy it was for Customers to access the former main Houston airport that had been all but closed down after the much larger airport now named in honor of our 41st President opened to the north of town in two years before.
First Houston Flight Gate Ribbon Cutting
After we added the 97th dot to our 2015 route map, Hobby now will serve as a focus city for new international service, but we still fly our original triangle (about 40 times a day) that first made our name more than four decades ago.