Norm Purdy

Mt. Healthy Airport Stories

Norm Purdy

    I went to Colerain High School and we went by the airport on the way to school, because it was on Springdale Road at Colerain.  After graduating from high school, I went off to college someplace.  In the meantime, I learned to fly.

    After learning to fly at the Middletown Airport, I came back one day and Lloyd Standair at the Mt. Healthy Airport came over and said,  "Norm, how about going for a ride in my airplane." He said, "I'd like to have you fly it."

    He had an Aeronca Trainer. The Aeronca Trainer was a two‑place airplane, with the seats behind each other. It was an enclosed airplane, and I had learned to fly Aeronca Chiefs and Aeronca Trainers, so it was no big deal.

    The airport was practically a pasture field. It extended all the way from Colerain Pike to the trees back at the other end at the Northgate Mall. At the present time those trees are still back there, but they’re much bigger than they were then. They were just little bushes when we were flying there. They were at the southwest end.

    It was rough; it was very tough to fly off of, but Lloyd was doing a good job with it.  He didn't have too many problems. This had to be 1941‑42, some place in that vicinity. No, it had to be 1939, before the war.

    In fact, just after I flew with Lloyd, I enlisted in the service and went into the Air Corps.  I guess that was in September. I went into the service and went through the army training.

    Now even though the government had helped to pay on the C.P.T program, the Civilian Pilot Training program they had, we learned to fly two or three kinds of airplanes. In fact, we flew UPF 7's out of Middletown, and it was strictly acrobatics.

We flew out of Mt. Healthy Airport, as it was called, with a little trainer and I always asked Lloyd if he had enough gasoline in this thing.  He said, “Yeah, I think there's enough here.” Then we'd go out and fly around a little bit.

    Landing there was something else because of the wires. The electric wires were up there about forty feet in the air, and the runway started right at the road Colerain Avenue. I guess there's about fifteen hundred feet of area there that you could fly out of. You were always landing way down there. I always thought runway behind and altitude above were negative assets, so I didn't like it, to be landing that far down on the runway.

    The airport as I recall had one metal building, and they always had a bunch of airplanes sitting around there, tied down one way or another. I don't remember any of the other fellows who flew off that airport except Lloyd.

    You know, the airport had one runway. I think they tried to say they had two, but I could never find it. It was kind of fun to fly off there. I came to Colerain.  I went to Ross School until I was in the eleventh grade. I was in the eleventh and twelfth grades.  That would have been '32‑'33, but I know that the airport was there before that, and I'm trying to think back. We use to haul sugar corn down to Cincinnati, and we'd go by there all the time.

    By the way, my first ride in an airplane was in 1922. We flew out of the pasture field across the road.  We flew in a Flying Jenny, a World War I airplane.  It was kind of interesting.  It was an open-cockpit airplane. Right opposite the airport on Springdale Road was a house. The family that lived there raised chickens, and they sold eggs. On the other corner I don't recall there was anything, just open space.

    The Bosserman Family owned everything from Colerain Pk. to the big brick house.  That is still back there on Springdale Road, and they owned that whole area. They were farmers. Just about where Frisch's is on Colerain Avenue, there was a hotel, and they tied horses out front. That building was still there when I was in high school. The reason I remember it is because I had my first drink of beer there, and it was the last.

    At one time they may have had a little coffee shop; it was in the side of the hanger. Some of the planes at the airport were the Aeronca Trainer and Piper Cubs. There was a small airplane that somebody built, but I never saw it fly.  I didn't know if they built it there or flew it there, but they said they had built it themselves. At that time, there were a lot of people building airplanes. I guess today we have the same thing with these

ultra‑lites and those things they are flying.

    There were a lot of airplanes at the Mt. Healthy Airport, but I didn't pay any attention to them because I was just a kid. The one runway was northeast‑southwest, sort of into the prevailing wind. It was about twelve hundred to fifteen hundred feet long, but I'm not sure.  When we landed, we always landed down there, and we only had about eight hundred feet left.  Concerning the width, it was something the guy took a lawnmower out there and mowed the grass, and that's about what it was.

    They did have a windsock on top of a hanger, so you really didn't know what the ground wind was. It was about twenty feet in the air.  Most of the time you had a crosswind. The trees were too small to stop a wind or to be a factor. Basically, back then most of the pilots did their own mechanical work. There was somebody, maybe the F.A.A. that checked it out.

    As far as out at Mt. Healthy, I don't know, but I learned to fly at Middletown.  You never touched an airplane until the boss told you you could. George Wittekind was the manager of the Hanger #1 at Lunken Airport. All the people, the big wheels in Cincinnati, had their money in the Lunken Airport, so they also supported him at Middletown.

    It started operations in the late twenties, I think it stopped operations right after the start of the war, and I don't know if after the war it was ever there again. Now there's another airport over there, you know, Lakewood on Pippen Road. A guy ran Lakewood by the name of Broxon, an engineer with the Baldwin Piano Company.  My older brother also was a vice president of the Baldwin Piano Company. Every once in a while we'd go over there or something, and we'd cut down those trees. Well then, after the war he still had his airport going, and Mt. Healthy had closed.

    I went to Miami University to finish my degree.  I was an elementary teacher.  While I was up there, this Pappy Wittekind, from Middletown Airport, called me and said "How about coming out here and teaching people how to fly?” so I went out while I was still in school. I taught ground school as well as pilot training. This was at Oxford.

    So when I was flying there, every now and then he would say, "Norm, you take such and such airplane and take it down to the Lunken Airport."  I started down there one day and the clouds kept getting lower, and I didn't have instruments in there except a needle ball and airspeed. The clouds kept getting lower and lower and I landed at Broxon's Airport. I called Pappy and said that the clouds got a little too tight for me and

I'm up here. He said, “When they raise up a little bit, come on down.”  So finally, he called and said, “It looks like you can make it,” so I said “O.K.”  I went out and took off again.

    I don't even know when Lakewood started, but I think it only stayed there for ten years maximum. I'm not sure it's not still there. I was involved with the paving of Colerain Avenue.  We lived across the river here, and there is a gravel pit over there in Butler Cty. A guy owned this gravel pit by the name of Guttman, and he used the gravel pits to pave Colerain Pk. from right where the Hamiliton County line ends on Old Colerain Avenue to across the river.  He turned and went up the hill and he paved it all the way out to the Six‑mile house.

    I remember when they use to drive hogs down Colerain Pk. and for the horses that went up and down the road.  There's a watering trough right over here on Colerain Pk.   

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