Some history of the Lima Allen County Airports

As found on http://www.airfields-freeman.com/OH/Airfields_OH_NW.htm website

Lima Airport / Allen County Airport (LIA), Lima, OH

40.76 North / 84.18 West (Northwest of Columbus, OH)

Lima Airport, as depicted on a 1936-37 Chicago Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

According to the website of WTLW 44, the Allen County Airport was built in 1933.

The earliest directory listing of the field which has been located

was in the 1934 Department of Commerce Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

It described Lima as a Municipal Airport, located three miles northwest of the town of Lima.

The airfield was said to consist of three sod runways,

with the longest being a 2,640′ northeast/southwest strip.

A hangar was said to be located in the northwest corner.

The Airport Directory Company’s 1937 Airports Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo)

described Lima as having 3 sod runways, with the longest being the 3,960′ east/west strip.

A hangar on the west side was said to have “Lima” painted on the roof.

The only photo which has been located showing Lima Municipal Airport while in operation

was a 9/28/43 aerial view looking north from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).

It depicted the field as being an open grass area.

The 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)

described Lima Airport as having a 4,200′ unpaved runway.

The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described the Lima Municipal Airport

as a 144 acre L-shaped field having 2 sod runways, the longest being a 4,200′ east/west strip (described as “rough”).

The field was said to have 3 concrete & steel hangars, the largest measuring 75′ x 60′.

Lima Municipal Airport was was described as being owned & operated by private interests.

Lima Airport, as depicted on the June 1946 Chicago Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

A circa 1940s-50s aerial view of Lima Airport, presumably during some kind of display – note the B-29 bomber fuselage.

According to the website of WTLW 44,

the golden years for the Allen County Airport were 1953-63,

when Lake Central Airlines ran DC-3 service to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Columbus.

Starting on the June 1960 Chicago Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

the field was labeled as the Allen County Airport.

It had also gained a paved runway, as it was depicted as having a single 3,500′ paved runway.

The 1960 USGS topo map depicted Allen County Airport as having a single paved east/west runway,

with a ramp & 4 buildings on the west side.

By the next year, the Lima Airport had apparently reverted to its previous name,

as depicted on the December 1961 Chicago Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

A newer airport was built on the east side of Lima in 1963, but the original airport continued in operation.

The 1966 OH Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy) depicted Lima as having a single 3,500′ bituminous east/west runway,

with a parallel 2,600′ sod runway on the north side of the paved runway, and a 2,640′ sod north/south runway.

A total of four hangars were depicted on the northwest side of the field. The manager was listed as Walt Plezia.

The last photo which has been located showing the Lima Airport in operation was a 4/16/71 USGS aerial view.

It showed Lima as having a paved Runway 9/27 & a grass crosswind runway.

A dozen single-engine aircraft were visible parked around the hangars on the west side.

The 1972 Flight Guide (courtesy of Chris Kennedy) showed that Lima had gained an NDB navigational beacon on the field.

The runway configuration had not changed.

The Lima Airport’s status had changed at some point between 1972-76 to a private field,

as that is how it was described in the 1976 AOPA Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

By 1977, the USGS topo map depicted that a new Allen County Airport had been constructed,

five miles southeast of the town of Lima.

The original Lima Airport was apparently closed at some point between 1976-80.

An undated photo of the former hangar (courtesy of John Sams), with the words “Aviation Corporation” still visible,

during the hangars conversion into a TV studio.

According to the website of WTLW 44, after the closure of the airport,

Ron Mighell toured the large 80′ x 80′ hangar and envisioned it as the largest television studio in Northwest Ohio.

In 1980, scores of volunteers pooled their talents to renovate the dilapidated building into a modern television production facility.”

The original Lima Airport was no longer listed at all in the 1982 AOPA Airport Directory (courtesy of Ed Drury).

In the 1988 USGS aerial photo, the former Lima Airport appeared to remain largely intact,

with the runways & most of the hangars appearing to remain completely untouched.

The TV transmitter tower could be seen just northwest of the west end of the runway.

The 1994 USGS topo map depicted a single paved east/west runway,

labeled simply as “Landing Strip”, along with several hangars on the west side of the field.

A circa 2007 aerial view looking east at the site of the former Lima Airport showed (from the left) the pavement from the former 3 t-hangars,

the former hangar, the TV transmitter tower, and the remains of the paved runway.

John Sams reported in 2007, “The old main hangar is now the main studio / office for the local Christian TV station 44.

Nothing appears to remain of the old runway except the clearing [however the runway appears to remain intact in the 2006 photo].

The small hangars to the north of the main are only slabs foundations.

The main transmission tower for the TV station

(which appears on the current Detroit Sectional as a lighted obstruction of 1,532′ MSL to the northwest of the city)

appears to be sitting right at the start of Runway 9.

New houses are being built close to the east side of the old runway clearing.

It will not be long & they will be on the old runway site.

A 4/6/12 aerial view looking northeast showed the former Lima Airport appeared to remain largely intact,

with the runways & some of the hangars appearing to remain completely untouched.

The site of Lima Airport is located southeast of the intersection of Neely Road & Baty Road.

As found on http://www.msdowantiques.com/2015/04/lima-aviation-history.html website

Aviation History in Lima Ohio ~ 1913 Airplane Photo Signed Andrew Drew ~ Collecting Lima

An interesting chapter of Ohio’s aviation history happened right here in Lima, Ohio. Being between Dayton, where the Wright Brothers started, and Chicago’s famous Cicero Field, Lima was a great location for early aviators and airplane inventors to gather for test flights and exhibitions. Crowds would gather to watch.
In early 1913, Jesse Brabazon opened a new “flying field” just outside of Lima, (which eventually became the Lima Airport).
The first exhibition flights at this new field were made by pilot Andrew Drew.
 
Jesse Brabazon
 
 
Andrew Drew
 

Above is a real photo postcard (RPPC) that pictures a group of men and boys intently watching a biplane in flight.
The pilot was Jesse Brabazon, and the plane is a Wright Model B that had belonged to Calbraith Perry Rodgers:

“The Wright Model B airplane, in which Calbraith Perry Rodgers had crashed and died on April 3, 1912, flying once again. The plane is flying at a Lima, Ohio, exhibition and it is piloted by Jesse Brabazon of Delavan, Wisconsin.

Brabazon had purchased the Rodgers wreckage, and he advertised and exhibited his rebuilt plane as the Vin Fiz, the famous plane in which Calbraith Perry Rodgers made the first transcontinental flight in 1911. It is more likely that Rodgers crashed in his backup plane, and the backup plane was the wreckage sold to Brabazon.” [Source: WisconsinHistory.org]

FIRST FLIGHT OF AN AIRPLANE IN LIMA OHIO:

The first flight of an airplane In the Lima area occurred on Friday, July 28, 1911, at the old Allen County Fairgrounds, which is now the site of Lima Memorial Hospital and surrounding homes. The pilot was Calbraith Perry Rodgers, a pupil of Orville Wright, in a Model B Wright Biplane with a 35 horsepower engine. Fifty cents admission was charged. Rodgers made three flights that day. He stayed low so that persons outside the grounds could not get a good look at the event without paying an admission.” [Source: AllenCountyAirport.com]

Calbraith Perry Rogers went on to fly the first trans-continental flight across the U.S in September 1911. Sadly, he crashed and died in Long Beach, California in April, 1912.
Written on the photo postcard is the inscription:

“Can you read the vaulting ambition in the expression of the backs of this younger generation? / Over here trying out machine for former pupil.”

The back of the postcard has a message that reads:

“Thanks for letter – will write you soon – will probably see you in New York before you leave. / Andrew Drew

The card is postmarked from Lima, Ohio, May 12, 1913.
Sadly, Andrew Drew crashed and died while flying a Wright Model B biplane over the grounds of the Lima State Hospital on June 12, 1913.
Andrew Drew was only 28 at the time of his tragic death. He was born in St. Louis in 1885.
So many of these early pioneer aviators made a lot of history with their many flights in their sadly too-short careers.
The card is addressed to Preston Lockwood Esq. / Editorial rooms / “The World” / New York City.
The addressee was Drew’s friend Preston Lockwood (1891-1951) who had just recently become a reporter for “The World“. In the 1930s and 1940s, he was an attorney and ran the Brewster Aeronautical Corporation[Source]
During his career, Drew, always a forceful and vocal proponent of “safe and sane flying,” made more than 1,700 flights in powered aeroplanes.  [Source]
Andrew Drew was a newspaper reporter turned pilot. He worked with the Wright Brothers, and became a noted aviation pioneer. He was one of the founders and first president of the American Aviators Association, and the director of the Cicero Flying Field in Chicago, which holds an important place in aviation history.
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Umbrella Plane photos.

More info:

In 1963 a new airport was built on the other side of Lima, but the old hangar building on the original grounds is currently used by WTLW-44.

The Lima State Hospital (for the “Criminally Insane“) was under construction from 1908-1915, so the grounds were still open and unpopulated when these flights were going on. The hospital didn’t get its first patients until 1915. [Source]

“The facility was originally known as the Lima State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Situated on 628 acres three miles north of downtown Lima, the hospital was constructed between 1908 and 1915. Built at a cost of $2.1 million, it was the largest poured-concrete structure in the country until supplanted by the Pentagon.
For much of its history, Lima State Hospital functioned largely as a warehouse. Patients sometimes staged dramatic protests against the conditions of their confinement, and frequently escaped (more than 300 escapes by 1978). Conditions improved significantly after 1974 as a result of a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of the patients. In its last years, the state hospital was used for the filming of a made-for-television movie about the Attica Prison riots in New York. Starting in 1982, Lima State Hospital became a medium-security prison, the Lima Correctional Institution. The prison closed in 2004, though a smaller prison on the site, the Allen Correctional Institution, remains.” — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lima,_Ohio