|Posted by [email protected] on November 5, 2014 at 3:35 PM|
Did you know the Kent State University's Andrew W. Paton Field was the first airport in Summit County.
As open houses continue for public feedback on the future of the Kent State University airport, it seemed like a perfect time to do a brief "flash in time," on the history of aviation at Kent State University!
The Kent State University's Andrew W. Paton Field opened in 1920 under the name of Stow Aviation Field. However, before Kent State University purchased the aiport in 1943, it saw quite a bit of turbulence! The field was created by The Ohio Flying School and Transport Company, and $100,000 worth of stock was paid out. A portion of that money was used to lease thirty acres of farm land from Fred Smith and to construct a hangar to house the school's four Jenny airplanes. But in 1921, The Ohio Flying School and Transport Company went bankrupt, and it would face bankruptcy again after being purchased by Joseph Ash.
In 1925, A.T. Simmons and Hugh Robbins formed the Robbins Flying Service, which built a small hangar in 1930 after the original hangar burnt down in 1927. Though this field had its share of ups and downs, aviation legends such as Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacher, and Floyd Bennet were known to have used the field. However, financial woes hit again in the early 1930's, forcing the Robbins Flying Service to suspend operation.
Soon there was a new operator by the name of Frankie C. Renner, who formed Stow Flying Field, Inc. This made her one of the first, if not the first, female airport operators on record. In 1939, Rudy Van De Vere purchased the 78 acre farm from Smith and the airport became known as Stow Field. By 1940 three sod runways were in use. In 1945 Van De Vere built the terminal building and then in 1947 he erected the large army surplus hangar on the field. The University purchased the airport from Van De Vere in 1943 and renamed it the Kent State University Airport. In 1966, the name of the field was changed to Andrew W. Paton Field to honor the professor who taught the University's first aerospace course in 1947.
Currently, the university uses the airfied to support its Aeronautics Program, which is one of 32 accredited aviation education programs available worldwide.
For more on the history of the Kent State University aiport, visit the Department of Special Ciollections and Archives