Welcome to the Massey Areodrome, a true field of dreams. "If you build it they will come". That statement fits this project better than any one we could have dreamed up ourselves.
The Massey Aerodrome is the permanent home of the brand new Massey Air Museum. It is so new that we don't have the official papers yet. They are being worked on right now.
The museum is being formed under the IRS section 501,c, 3 regulations. It is dedicated to education, and preservation of matters relating to grassroots aviation in this country.
The museum will be a "living museum". That is, it will be operated just like one of the thousands of small town airports of the Thirties, Forties and Fifties. So many of which have been closed in recent years due to urban sprawl.
We think we have a very special place here on Maryland's Eastern Shore, especially here in Kent County, a County that cherishes its rural history and is working hard to preserve it.
The County planning and zoning people were particularly interested in having the Museum on the airport. And, they have expressed relief that there is now a public use airport in the County that can be used by at least some visiting aircraft (small) until the presently planned County Airport is opened.
Our neighbors, a few of who have already given generously of their time and talents, to help our Dream come true, have graciously received us.
Of particular note is our next door neighbor, Henry Dierker who worked the soil for the new turf runway and coached us through the planting process. The runway already looks great.
As many of you know last spring we bought the remaining 93 acres of John Beilers's farm. He had operated a crop dusting business there for many years. John had shut down the business several years ago and had sold the parcel where his runway had been. So, we had to build a new runway. The house, hangers and shop buildings were there but, having been vacant for some time, were in need of considerable "sprucing up".
We spent most of the summer and fall building the runway and doing a major cleanup job. Ben Knight, John Williamson's son-in-law, lent us his bulldozer and his 1948 Caterpillar motorgrader. We had to teach ourselves how to operate the equipment. The grader was by far the most fun.
I have to inject a story here. One day Jim Sypherd was running the bulldozer trying to move dirt from the top of a hill to the adjacent valley. He had been working for hours and, in spite if what I thought was considerable progress, he had become frustrated at his lack of progress. He climbed down off the bulldozer and proclaimed that "we will be here forever" and that we just "had to talk to a professional earth mover".
With that I looked up in the sky and said, well here is one right now. Bill Kelso an excavation Contractor was circling the field at that very moment.
If that does not qualify as Divine intervention then I Don't know what does. Anyway, we cleared the runway, such as it was at the time, and waved to him to land, which he did. He put us on the right track to get the job done.
couldn't do the job at that time and he suggested we try to find someone more local. We had been talking with Bill Zack a nearby neighbor-contractor. He agreed to bring in his big earthmover. His son Paul did such a good job with the big hill and valley we decided to have him do more than originally planned. We are glad we did because the runway is now one of the best turf runways we know of.
Our next lesson came in the form of a first hand experience to learn just how big a gambler you need to be if you want to be a farmer. We planted $2000.00 worth of grass seed. We planted it on the day that Henry Dierker Sr. told us the moon would be just right. We had Kevin and Gene Turner plant it with a special seeder that sets the seeds just under the surface and we rolled it. Then we waited and waited and …… waited. No grass! More wait, still no grass. We had a little rain, still no grass. We got a real appreciation for the farmer that spends thousands of dollars every year then waits for the crops to materialize.
Well, the grass finally came and we are now in mowing stage. We have some light spots. If they don't fix themselves by spring we will over-seed them. We are now more confidant that the grass will grow. Whew!
We then turned our attention to the grounds and the hangers. Bill Malpass literally scrubbed the inside of both hangers. They had been used as farm machinery sheds for the past several years and had so much dirt on the concrete floors that some people thought they had dirt floors. Bill shoveled, scraped and scrubbed them until they came CLEAN. They look great now.
Jim Sypherd went to work on the grounds. He cleared tons of brush and bramble away from the hangers and around the old grain tank foundations. George Simon a new found friend from Millington cleared the place of at least two thousand concrete blocks many of which were broken and will be used for soil stabilization at the nursery where he works.
John Williamson worked on the mechanical things. After fixing the termite damage to the house, he kept the equipment running, rebuilt the air compressor, fixed the toilets, made the hanger doors work, and repaired the roof of the west hanger, removed the old heater from the farmhouse, and a whole lot of other important projects.
I watched the grass grow. Mowed it too! And mowed and mowed, Next Spring we hope to have more mowing capacity.
While we were having so much fun doing those things Ann, Patty, Jill and Emily were showing great patience, occasionally lending a hand and supplying moral support. In preparation for our first open hanger party they stepped up the cleaning and decorating efforts. They thought things were still a little rough looking around here for social visitors. The place is getting better looking by the day.
The outside things are pretty well stabilized for now and we recently started to work on the inside of the restoration shop. A lot of work to be done here!
With the help of Les Moorehouse and Jimmy Price we had the electrical service rewired to the house and shop.
Ralph De Groodt was our first official volunteer. He helped John on the heater project. And, he installed the phone system (ex Bell Tell you know). He also helps with all the odd jobs and grass mowing.
Before he headed back to Florida for the winter Don McKenzie spent a good deal of his summer here driving the tractor and the forklift truck helping the others with their projects.
Ken Ryznar from Rock Hall flew in one day to see what we were all about. He has been here working hard almost everyday since. Well the grass finally grew to the point that we called the Maryland Aviation Administration for their final inspection. They were pleased and granted us the license we need to operate as a public use airport effective November 1st. They brought a special phone to install for pilot emergency use and for checking aviation weather with the FAA flight service people. They also supplied a weather station and a radio to communicate with landing pilots and some runway marker cones and a windsock assembly with a history. It had been in use for years at the recently closed Baltimore Airpark. We are cleaning it now and will install it soon. I need to report on the flying and non-flying visitors that have begun to show up at the aerodrome. If ever there was an example of the theme from the field of dreams, that if you build it they will come, then we sure have a perfect example here.
Before we graded the runway I mentioned that Bill Kelso landed in his Cessna 170. John brought his Dragonfly in and I brought my 1939 Piper J-3 Cub. All three are great examples of grassroots aircraft.
Since the word got out that the runway was useable there has been a steady flow of real interesting planes. The list of planes is as follows; an original Piper Pacer, a Morrissey also known as a Varga or Schinn, a Starduster I, Two Sea Rays one is brand new, a Piper Cub, a Republic Sea Bee, a brand new Adventua I, two Stearmans, two square tail Cessna 172, a Cessna 140 a Kiss Cruiser, an RV-8, and an RV-6 Both just finished, an Aero Commander Lark, a Piper PA-12 Family Cruiser, a beautifully restored fast back C-172, a North American Navy SN-J, a Citabaria and several Cessna 172's. This is exactly what we hoped for when we decided to build it and see if they would come. In fact they are coming.
We are looking forward to this becoming a very special place for future generations to learn about grassroots aviation.