This photo was found in the collection of Mississippi State University. It was taken in August, 1926. Another photo showing a group of men posed around one of the planes is also in the collection:
And an aerial view of the field:
There are several other views in the same collection. Just searching for “Ouachita” pulled up all of them: https://msstate.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/charm/search/searchterm/Ouachita . What you are looking at is the Grandfather of the Monroe Airport.
Back in 1926, aviation was in it’s infancy. Monroe wanted in on the fad. An “airstrip” (if you could call it that!) was established south of Monroe for planes to fly in and out of. I am unsure exactly where this was. Around the time this photo was taken, on August 2, 1926 a pilot named H. Victor Smoot flew out with a copilot to examine power lines in Arkansas. They got as far as Morehouse parish before they clipped a tree and crashed into the ground nose first. Smoot was killed but his copilot survived. the field was renamed after him in his memory a few days later.
Smoot field was the scene of some celebrities during it’s existence. When Admiral Byrd came through, he brought one of his polar expedition airplanes to the field for the public to see. Not long after, six military planes flying from Quantico to San Pedro had to land in Monroe due to bad weather. Monroe was mesmerized by the men and their planes! It was even said the planes had a top speed of 175 mph!
The famous Huff-Dalland crop dusters flew out of this field. Of course, if you know your history, Huff Dalland became Delta Airlines! You could say Smoot Field was the “womb” that incubated Delta Airlines!
In July of 1927 a violent tornado hit the field and the hangar (probably the very one in the picture!) was destroyed. Due to the need for expansion (Smoot field couldn’t be) the Police Jury decided to buy land for a new airport. It was decided it would be called “Selman Field” after military pilot and local boy Augustus James Selman, who had died in a plane crash at the close of WWI. There was a mild uproar that the new field would not keep Smoot’s name but the decision was made. The Smoot field was abandoned to time along with the name of the man whom it honored.
Hamlet Victor Smoot Memorial on Findagrave:
Augustus James Selman Memorial on Findagrave:
Edit (Nov. 18, 2022): The website links have changed. To see the photos, go here: https://scholarsjunction.msstate.edu/archives-and-special-collections/ and search “Ouachita” .