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Flying with Ole Don

This will be the first of many columns about aviation and flying in the southern Ohio area and across the United States.

I started taking lessons in 1962 and am still flying today. It is a phase I am going through that seems to last a long time. It is always a thrill to take someone flying for the first time. It is an event people seem to remember the rest of their lives.

I remember my first experience flying was in a J3 Piper Cub. Incidentally, that type plane is still flying today as are many of the planes built in the 1940s.


EAA Young Eagles Program

I have had the opportunity of flying many teenagers on their first flight from Lawrence County airport through the Young Eagles program sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).

It is of no cost to the teenager and the insurance is carried by the EAA. We have been most successful in flying junior ROTC students and other organizations like the Boys & Girls Club. Perhaps you have contact with a youth organization that would be interested in taking advantage of this program.

Feel free to contact me at e-mail: oledon74@gmail.com. An ideal number would be 15 to 20 but smaller groups would be welcome like a 4-H Club. It is usually a Saturday event.


A Bit of History

Now let me tell you a few items about the history of the Lawrence County airport. The airport was known as the Huntington-Ironton-Chesapeake airport in 1929 when it was opened by Embry-Riddle of Cincinnati.

Embry-Riddle went on to be a multi-site aeronautical university of modern times. After Embry-Riddle it was managed, starting in November 1930, by Howard Mayes, Sr. as manager. Later it came to be known locally as Mayes Field. Mr. Mayes was a World War I Fighter Pilot.

Howard Mayes, Jr. was a good friend of mine and relates that Pop, the name he always called him, was shot down and hit in the head and arm but crashed in enemy territory. Unfortunately, his gunner was killed.

He said that the Germans treated him like a hero and took good care of him in the hospital where he stayed in their care until liberated. Howard Sr. was the manager at Wertz Field at Institute, W.Va., before he moved to what is now Lawrence County Airport.

Howard Sr. was a good promoter and had a grand opening after the runway was rebuilt by the WPA (Works Progress Administration), one of the many programs initiated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in an attempt to recover from the Great Depression.


1938 Souvenir Program

I have a copy of the 16 page, 1938 Souvenir Program about the Air Show and Dedication of the airport. It was a grand celebration on May 29, 1938 with bands from both Ironton and Huntington.

All the band members are listed, Maybe your father, grandfather or great grandfather is noted. If you would be interested, I will make copies for you at my cost, which includes postage, of $3.

Just send your payment to me, Don Lee, at the Lawrence County Airport , 9654 County Road 1, South Point, OH 45680. Please allow two weeks for delivery.


Don Lee, a pilot flying out of Lawrence County Airport since 1970, has been in charge of equipment and grounds maintenance for the last several years. He can be reached at oledon74@gmail.com