EAA863’s Myron Lasater intrigued the audience on the evening of April 14, 2022 with a thorough and complete history of the Lebanon Airport. Myron gave an account of how the airport started, highlighted the important role the field played during the WWII Tennessee Maneuvers, to the present day. Click below to read more!
The field officially opened April 30, 1919 by Lt. Wilber and Sgt. Harrigan of Park Field Aviation Camp, Murfreesboro, TN. The duo debuted aviation to several people that day with the sell of $1000 Liberty Bonds offering airplane rides to the buyers. The first passenger to take flight from Lebanon’s field was N.G. Robertson. EAA863 is very thankful for Mr. Robertson’s investment in flight. Little did he know that his large investment on that Spring day in 1919 would lead to what is now a 5000 foot paved field, home to corporations, maintenance facilities, hangars and a veritable crowd of general aviation.
From those first flights emerged a need to serve the local community with flight instruction. Lebanon saw two fields during the early years: Porterfield Airport (where W Main St and Hartmann Drive intersect) and Rainbow Flying field (where Wilson County Memorial Gardens Cemetery is now). Across the two airfields, a flying school emerged, operated by Pilot Pen Moore in 1931. Pilot Moore charged $7.50/lesson. While approximately $8/lesson is cheap by today’s standards, that was a considerable investment in 1931.
The cornerstone: Lebanon Airport as we know it today
In 1933, the location that the Lebanon Airport sits on today, became official. Visionary, W. Goodbar “Git” Catron led the challenge with local citizens to build an airport for the town. Git, as he was referred to by friends, applied to the Civil Works Administration and the official airport charter, was approved in December 1933. On the sprawling 45 acres of land, leased from local executives, a 2500-foot long runway was dug by hand with two intersecting runways; North and South and East and West. Just six short years later, in 1939, a new hangar was built along with the purchase of two Piper J-3 Cubs, which were to be used for training. One of the J-3 Cubs can be found in a museum in Louisiana today. Indeed, this is an incredible story of history.
Beginning in 1939, Americans saw the outbreak of war in Europe. Within just a few short years, the entire Middle Tennessee would be transformed as General Patton saw the benefit of the Middle Tennessee area landscape as a training backdrop for his army. Patton, who had family in the Watertown Tennessee area, was in the area often. How did he get a large portion of his troops here? The benefit of the Lebanon and surrounding areas airports. These airfields proved crucial as training maneuvers were conducted on, and around the airfields. The landscape mirrored that of Europe which Patton knew would be where his troops would be going.
The Golden Age and the future
After the war, America saw the Golden Age of aviation born. Highly training pilots, exiting service from war, longed to fly, either personally or professionally. The Golden Age of Aviation was born which ushered in an era of construction openings, fly-ins by nationally known aviators, and parking for several privately owned airplanes. During this time, the Agee’s would play a pivotal role. Their dedication, service to the community, and hospitality led to the growth of the field and its development, as we know it today. Airshows, flight lessons, community gatherings, and southern hospitality became normal at the Lebanon Airport. The Agee’s saw the benefit of the airport to the community and sought to expand it. They were routinely seen picking up the cadets from the Castle Heights Military Academy and teaching them how to fly, before they entered service in the military. EAA863 would like to thank the Agee’s for their service to the community, their Country and the young pilots they taught.
EAA863 is proud to call Lebanon Airport home. We are honored to be in the Sattler Foundation Hangar where we host our many events. EAA863 is also honored to work with Direct Flight Solutions, the Fixed Based Operator (FBO), Class Bravo Air (flight school), Volar (Aircraft Services & Broker) and the two maintenance facilities. EAA863 is a 501c3 that seeks to give back to the community. We hope that you will consider joining our chapter and enjoy aviation with us. We look forward to seeing you on the airport. Until then, we hope that your days are CAVU (Clear and Visibility Unlimited).
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