Benbrook Field – an important Army aviation training center – was located here during the First World War. It was later bulldozed. Here's a story about one of it's distinguished pilots.
Every era has its celebrities, and the years leading up to Great War were no different. Vernon and Irene Castle - the “it couple” of the early 1900s. were the first dance stars of the modern era. The young, beautiful duo from England sashayed into the national spotlight, filling theaters with delighted audiences. It was the Castles who brought dances like the Foxtrot and the tango to mainstream America. They had it all: looks, money, and fame. But as Europe plunged into the Great War, Vernon was wracked with guilt. As he danced on stage, his friends were dying in the trenches. Vernon Castle renounced his charmed life; sailed home to England; and joined the military. He became a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, and this A-list celebrity flew more than 300 combat missions. Even shot down two German aircraft. And received the French Croix de Guerre for heroism. In 1918 he was stationed as a squadron commander at Benbrook Field - near Fort Worth. An important center of military aviation, with three flight training centers known as the “Flying Triangle”. The US Army and the Royal Flying Corps engaged in joint training at Benbrook Field, and Castle was an accomplished instructor. But aviation was still in its infancy; and every flight was a risk. Castle took off on a routine training flight, with his beloved pet monkey – Jeffrey – and a student pilot in the backseat. Another plane appeared out of nowhere. Castle pulled hard to avoid a collision - but stalled, mid-air… his plane crashing to earth. The student pilot – and even little Jeffrey, the monkey – were unhurt. But Vernon Castle, the dance star turned war hero, was dead.
This is the site where the international dance star and war hero, Vernon Castle, plummeted to his death in a tragic aviation accident in 1918. Nearly 50 years after his death, just off the avenue that bears his name, a monument was built to remember him.
Watch our World War I Monuments in Texas and Aviation in North Texas videos to learn more about Texas and Texans in WWI. These videos were produced for inclusion in our Texas and the Great War mobile tour found in our Texas Time Travel Tours mobile app. Download the app for more videos and travel information: