The Fort Wayne Aviation Company
As you drive west from Waynedale to 5036 Lower Huntington Road, before you get to Smith Road, you come to what was once the Fort Wayne Aviation Company. The property is on the north side of the road and if you look north, you can see the south side of Hansen Aggregates and the east property line of Primco Incoporated. There is a pond just down the incline from Lower Huntington and there is a house and garage that sits just west of the pond.
The airport runway ran from Lower Huntington, north, to the stone quarry. Imagine landing an airplane without any help from fixed, firm stationary wings. When landing you would come in from the north, with the prevailing wind, and land at an angle, side slipping to a stop.
Pilots needed little schooling as there were very few controls and only a dead stick for steering. Ailerons applied to the wings for banking and braking were not invented by Glenn Curtiss until about 1902. If all else failed to stop the plane, the pilot could throw out an anchor.
The north end of the landing strip was part of the great swamp that covered much of the area. The runway was often shortened by standing water in a soggy field. The Lower Huntington Road was the south shore of ancient Lake Erie and is at a higher elevation than the landing strip. This hill helped to slow the planes down, when landing from the north. After the plane came to a stop, the tail assembly was lifted and the plane was backed into the hanger so the front would be facing east, ready for the next flight. The old hanger is now part of an attached garage, and the hand-hewed beams can still be seen as part of the garage super-structure.
The Fort Wayne Aviation Company rebuilt and repaired all kinds of aircraft, from balancing propellers to fixing valve guides. It had 8-10 airplanes coming and going until Baer Field plans were formulated. There was also another aircraft repair shop located on the west side of Ideal Avenue, near Lower Huntington Road. It was called the S. Mason Garage, and it advertised ‘Kwick Way System’ valve grinding. It was my pleasure to be a curious student of Bill Mason who was very willing to answer questions showing the mechanics of an airplane.
This same Bill Mason built a Calliope, mounted it on his flat bed truck, and drove the big circle east on the Lower Huntington Road, south on Old Trail Road, west on McArthur Drive, and north on Ideal Avenue to his shop. All of this advertising was done with school-made billboards telling about the annual Halloween Fall Festival featuring PTA sponsored fun-time, which included a tasty meal, white elephant sale, basketball throw, fish pond, and many cake walks. Bill Mason was typical of a very civic-minded Waynedaler.
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