Bud Wissel

Mt. Healthy Airport Stories

Bud Wissel

In the mid 30's, 1934-1935, people would go to the airport and look at and talk about airplanes for hours.

In the 30's there were a lot of bi-planes from WWI, open cockpits with WWI engine OX5. There was a water cooled engine that had its radiator down between the wheels of the plane. People would take plane rides in these planes for just a ride. Back in those days, auto gasoline was selling for a dime a gallon and hi-test was twelve cents a gallon, gasoline for airplanes was selling for .25 a gallon.

Rides took about ten minutes. The plane would take off over Livingston Rd, turn south, fly over Galbraith to Pippin Rd., and then turn north, fly up Pippin and return to the airport.

George South owned a couple of airplanes in which he would take passengers for rides. He also instructed students to fly. He always flew with them until they were ready to solo. Then when he felt they were qualified, they would solo. South stayed with the airport until WWII started. He then took a job as an inspector with the F.A.A.

In the mid 30's there was not a great deal of vehicular traffic. In fact, on a good day you might see ten cars when driving north on Colerain Avenue from North Bend Road to Colerain and Springdale to the airport.

From Cheviot, Ohio to White Oak you might see 2 cars. But in spite of the lack of cars, there still was a great interest in planes and flying.  When a plane would fly over, people would come out of their homes and point to the plane as it flew over. They would not go back inside until the plane was out of sight.

You could buy a kit for the Heath Parasol plane for about $2000. The kits were advertised in various magazines. A fellow bought and assembled one, and tried to take off from the Mt. Healthy Airport. He started where most of the planes started, got part way down the runway, cut the engine, and didn’t get off the ground.

He then came back and George South who was managing the airport at that time just shook his head. The pilot took the plane all the way back to Colerain Pk to get a longer run, on the runway.

He got off the ground and again George South shook his head and mumbled something, South walked away. He did not approve of the pilot taking the risk, South knew, it just was not going to be right. The plane got above 100 ft. off the ground and started listing to the right.

There was something wrong with the controls, they were just not right. The further he got, the lower he got, the engine was becoming overheated. The engine was a 4 cyl. Henderson motor-cycle engine. He lost power, but did not come straight down, but did have a kind of a hard landing. The wheels folded up underneath him and the nose dug into the ground

People at the airport got into a car and went over the crash site on Poole Rd. The pilot, when they arrived was wiping the bridge of his nose. Before the pilot was taken to a doctor, he said keep everybody away from there and don’t let anyone smoke. Then he left. But was back shortly and all he received from the crash was a small cut on the bridge of his nose, that the doctor covered with a little patch. He didn’t try to fly it again. So much for the Heath Parasol plane kit and $2000.

Normally airplanes would take off from the Colerain Ave. end of the airport, because of prevailing winds. One time a plane took off from the western end of the airport and flew over Colerain Ave. The plane did not fly very far before the engine choked out about 500 ft. from Colerain Ave. The plane was very distinguished looking, as it was coal

black. The plane crashed after it stalled out, killing the pilot. Another sad episode concerning the airport.

During the thirties there was a club at the Mt. Healthy Airport that owned soaring planes. This was a type of plane that had no engine. You tied a cable to the back of a car and attached it to the soaring plane. The car would then speed down the runway towing the plane. When the plane would get high enough, the pilot would cut loose and soar, as long as he could maintain altitude.

On one occasion the soaring plane was not able to maintain the altitude. The plane which was made of wood, hit the ground, and became a pile of splinters. The pilot walked away, but members of the club were upset that they lost a plane.

            Near the end of WWII and immediately after, during the late 40's, Jerry Greenfield and Joe Rudolph, a music teacher at Colerain High School ran the airport. They operated a flying school and had 5-6 instructors, many of them pilots from the Air Corps, and over 100 students, both men and women taking flying lessons on the G.I. bill.

           This was one of the largest flying schools in the entire area and was the envy of many other airports. 

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