Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Aaron Vietor, Kim Wallace, Mike Moorhead
Photo #1 taken in 1926 and shows an aviation event at Moraine Field, Dayton Municipal Airport. Our research was to (1) determine the location of Moraine Field and (2) determine was it really Dayton’s first Municipal Airport. This expedition was different, instead of walking through woods and trails as I did to discover the location of the Wright Brothers “Pinnacles”, we explored the internet, library and museum archives.
In the 1926 photos, Aaron thought the road at the top was Northlawn Ave. (based on the similar tree line and slight bend) when compared with a 1965 photo. I found a reprint of this 1926 photo in a 1979 Moraine publication which stated the airport was near Bertwyn Drive and Dorothy Lane. Bertwyn Drive up until the 1980’s was the northern part of now Springboro Pike between the Northlawn Bridge and I-75. Kim, Aaron and I kept searching. Aaron found Photo #2 which shows the airpark and what looks like Springboro Pike south of Northlawn. Researching the Dayton History archives I confirmed that location by finding several photos taken from a biplane circling the airport (taken in either the fall of 1926 or spring of 1927) clearing showing Springboro and Dorothy Lane. The airport would have been located 200 yards east of the Northlawn Bridge/Springboro Pike intersection and north of the new Fuyao Glass Plant (former General Motors Plant) entrance road.
Question 2, was this really the first Dayton Municipal Airport. Mike had located a document referencing a letter to the Dayton City Manager from Rinehart-Whelan Company (former Wright Brothers test pilots) offering the Moraine Flying Field to the City of Dayton in April 1926, without cost, as a Municipal Landing Field for commercial airplanes. On May 5, I spent the afternoon at Wright State University Library, Wright Brothers Special Collections. A box was brought to me labeled “Old Dayton Municipal Airport Documents”. It contained one file per year from 1926 to 1953. The 1926 file had 11 letters/documents. An April 1926 letter from Rinehart offered the airpark to Dayton City Manager Eichelberger. The Dayton City Attorney prepared an acceptance contract and resolution (Photo#6). An August 12, 1926 letter from the City Manager (Photo#7) proved the City of Dayton financed the painting of “Moraine Field, Dayton Municipal Airport” and utilized the field although no formal contract was signed.
A 1927 document went on to say that Moraine field was utilized until the summer of 1928 when air mail service moved to Wright Field in Dayton. That year a memo by the City Manager showed that Dayton was looking for land in the Vandalia area for an airport. Another letter to Dayton Airport Committee marketing state of the art hangers with a 50’ mast for airships. We all know this new air transportation trend ended abruptly with the Hindenburg Disaster.
The Moraine Historical Marker (Photo#5) commemorating Moraine Field was installed in August of 2016 at the Fuyao entrance ramp just east of the Northlawn/Springboro intersection across from the Northlawn Avenue Bridge.