Newly minted Pontiac
Municipal Airport hangar, circa 1930
International Airport Takes its Place In Aviation History: 75 Years of
Progress -- 1928-2003
construction for the Pontiac Municipal Airport was approved in 1928, the
previous year's exploits of the "Lone Eagle" Charles A.
Lindbergh, were on the lips of the youngest to the oldest on both sides
of the Atlantic. His epic New York-to-Paris flight in the Ryan
monoplane "Spirit of St. Louis", was a pivotal point in
aviation history. For the first time, regular trans-Atlantic or
Pacific, flight could be considered as a quite viable enterprise.
And so it was.
August 24, Oakland / Pontiac (officially, Oakland County International
Airport) situated in the suburbs of Detroit and ranked 27th busiest
commercial airport and 5th busiest general aviation, will celebrate its
75th anniversary with an array of aircraft and activities sure to stir
the soul of the most die-hard aviation enthusiast.
celebration is even more appropriate when one considers that Oakland /
Pontiac was the first
certificated "Airport for Landplanes" (Tampa/St.
Petersburg has the distinction as establishing the first regularly
scheduled air service using Benoit Flying Boats in 1914) in the
country by the United States Department of Commerce in 1930.
Indeed, an air facility holding certificate #000001 automatically
qualifies it for an honored place in the annals of aviation.
within this same timeframe, the center of the world's auto industry
flirted with aircraft design and manufacturing through the Detroit
Aircraft Corporation. And who, in collaboration with Lockheed,
built a prototype low-wing monoplane fighter with retractable landing
gear designated the Detroit-Lockheed YP-24. Its crash in 1931 helped
force the company into bankruptcy the same year.
addition to appearances by NASA astronauts, aviation record holders
(altitude record; Long-EZ) F-16s, F-18s and representatives of The
Tuskegee Airmen, the organization formed to celebrate and immortalize
the exploits of Black Fighter Pilots during World War II, there are two
aircraft scheduled for the event to which I have a personal
connection. The B-17G "Yankee Lady" restored over a 9
year period by members of the Ypsilanti, Michigan-based Yankee Air Force,
and a B-25D "Yankee Warrior" restored by Capt. Glenn Lamont
had the privilege of spending a day with the Yankee Lady's restoration
team in 1988. Laughably, I never succeeded in removing the oil and
grime from clothing worn during the lifting of a GE Turbo-Supercharger,
one of four located for the aircraft. Somewhere, I have video of
the work carried out that day.
met Yankee Warrior one early morning at Detroit City Airport in 1982
courtesy of Glen Lamont and his team. They were kind enough to
allow me to participate in start-up procedures. I'll never forget
the sound of those Wright-Cyclones resonating off the hangar walls as
the "Warrior" taxied for takeoff.
a Ride in a "Fortress"
visitors to the open house will have an opportunity to experience the
thrill of a ride in the legendary B-17G "Flying Fortress" (a
mere $400) they'll have to wait for a similar experience with the
Mitchell; it's undergoing IRAN (Inspect and Repair As Necessary).
That task will be accomplished later this year.
Oakland / Pontiac Airport 75th Anniversary team has worked hard to bring
this open house together, and I encourage you to fly or drive in for
this remarkable event. You'll find additional information at the
following link: http://www.co.oakland.mi.us/aviation/news/
staff of eMOTION! REPORTS.com congratulates all involved in reaching
this aviation milestone.