Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:
Ohio: Northeast Ohio
© 2002, © 2017 by Paul Freeman. Revised 12/11/17.
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Mills Airport (revised 8/9/17) - Southern Airways Airport / Boardman Air Park (revised 9/10/17) - Youngstown Executive Airport (revised 12/11/17)
Southern Airways Airport / Boardman Air Park, Boardman, OH
41.02, -80.684 (Southeast of Cleveland, OH)
Southern Airways Airport, as depicted on the July 1947 Cleveland Sectional Chart.
Southern Airways Airport was evidently established at some point between 1945-47,
as it was not yet depicted on the June 1945 Cleveland Sectional Chart.
The earliest depiction which has been located of Southern Airways Airport was on the July 1947 Cleveland Sectional Chart.
A 1950 aerial photo depicted Southern Airways Airport as having 2 unpaved runways,
with one single-engine light aircraft & 2 hangars on the north side.
The 1951 USGS topo map depicted the airfield under a different name: Boardman Airfield.
It depicted the field as having 2 runways, with 2 small buildings just northeast of the runway intersection.
Timothy Moran recalled, “I was associated with Southern Airways / Boardman Air Park from October 1962 until July 1964.
This was a great time in my life. I earned a private pilot’s license on 6/13/63.
I logged over 220 hours during my association with Southern Airways. I also worked there as a lineboy for about 1 ½ years.
The airpark had several buildings: a main office / pilots' lounge, a maintenance shop, 2 rows of T-hangars, and a single hangar at the east end of the east/west runway.
In the photo with Piper Apache N4351P [below], the hangar directly behind belonged to Don Paddon where he kept his Beechcraft Debonair.
The main north/south runway was grass, which was then converted to a loose cinder/gravel strip for better utilization during wet months.
The north/south runway had lights which were turned on from the ground by a switch. [Frequency] 122.8 Unicom was in place.
Southern Airways provided new aircraft sales, pilot training, aircraft & engine maintenance, charter flights, aircraft hangar rentals, outside tie downs, and fueling services.
Southern Airways was owned & operated by Nick Parish. Nick flew reconnaissance P-51s in the Second World War.
In the early 1960s Nick was an Air Force Reserve Officer & regularly flew Fairchild C-119s from Youngstown Airport. He had logged over 22,000 flight hours at that time.
Nick died sometime later in the crash of a Globe Swift GC1-B while instructing a student.
Southern Airways was a Piper Aircraft retail dealer.
There were at least 6 Piper Colts available for training & rental; along with 2 Piper Cherokees & a Piper Apache 150 twin.”
Timothy continued, “Some of the pilots & their aircraft I remember:
Don Paddon: Beechcraft Debonair,
Eldon 'Buck' Weaver: Cessna 170B (Buck was a CFI),
Frank Sadler: CFI,
Al Segretti: CFI,
Bill Bender: partner in a Cessna 120,
Frank Ferris: Piper Super Cub (used for professional aerial photography),
Carl Bopp: Piper Comanche 250,
Dr. Foster: Piper Cherokee 180,
Cliff Lawson: local pilot,
Dr. Bender: Piper Aztec 160,
Dr. Bloomberg: local pilot,
Tom Sweeney: A&P mechanic (worked at Lansdowne Airport at one time).”
The 1963 USGS topo map depicted the airfield in the same physical configuration, but once again with the name of Southern Airways Airfield.
The earliest photo which has been located of Southern Airways Airport was a circa 1963 aerial view (courtesy of Chuck Johnson).
It depicted Southern Airways Airport as having a paved northwest/southeast runway, an unpaved east/west runway,
and 18 light single-engine planes parked near some buildings on the northeast side.
A summer 1964 photo looking northeast at a North American AT-6 Texan in civilian markings at Southern Airways Airport (courtesy of Chuck Johnson).
The east end of the Southern Airways maintenance hangar is visible on the left side.
Chuck Johnson recalled of the AT-6, “This particular aircraft was based at Southern Airways; in addition, because of Andy Hammock’s expertise with the AT-6 & SNJ, several other of these aircraft were maintained at Southern Airways.
To the right of the AT-6/SNJ is a relatively new Cessna 205, either a 1963 or 1964 model. To the right of the C-205 is a Cessna 120 or 140.
The asphalt pad at the bottom of the photo is a paved ramp way leading into the first T-hangar (northside) of the first row or 'Row 1' as we called it, of the T-hangars.
During this period of time Arthur Nicolette kept is Beechcraft Model 33 Debonair in the first hangar.”
The 1965 Cleveland Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy) depicted Southern Airways Airport as having a 2,600' unpaved runway.
A 1968 photo taken during takeoff from Southern Airways Airport's Runway 16 (courtesy of Chuck Johnson)
showing a variety of general aviation aircraft.
A circa late 1960s / early 1970s photo by Jim Croasmun of a Beech 18 in front of a Piper & some hangars at what appears to be Boardman Air Park.
Jim recalled, “The pictures were taken when a friend & I rode our bicycles out to a grass strip, and stood there hanging on the fence watching takeoffs & landings.
While I can't say with absolute certainty, I think it's very likely that we'd bicycled to Boardman Air Park.”
A circa late 1960s / early 1970s photo by Jim Croasmun of a Piper Apache, some other Pipers & several hangars at what appears to be Boardman Air Park.
A circa late 1960s / early 1970s photo by Jim Croasmun of a Beech Twin Bonanza taking off or landing at what appears to be Boardman Air Park.
The last aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of Boardman Air Park was on the May 1970 Cleveland Sectional Chart.
It depicted Boardman as having a 2,600' unpaved runway.
Boardman Air Park was evidently closed at some point between 1970-72,
as it was no longer depicted on the November 1962 Detroit Sectional Chart (courtesy of Ron Plante).
The 1979 USGS topo map had an odd depiction – a neighborhood of new streets & houses was depicted over the site of Boardman Air Park,
but the label “Boardman Air Park” was still superimposed over the new streets.
A 1994 aerial view showed no trace remaining of Boardman Air Park.
A 2015 aerial view showed no trace remaining of Boardman Air Park.
The site of Broadman Air Park is located south of the intersection of Broadman-Canfield Road & West Boulevard.
Thanks to Jim Croasmun for pointing out this airfield.
Mills Airport (7E3), Mantua, OH
41.238, -81.254 (East of Cleveland, OH)
Mills Airport was depicted on the January 1958 Cleveland Sectional Chart as a private airfield having a 1,900' unpaved runway.
According to its FAA Airport/Facility Directory data, Mills Airport was activated in October 1953.
However Mills Airport was not yet depicted on the January 1955 Cleveland Sectional Chart.
The earliest depiction which has been located of Mills Airport was on the January 1958 Cleveland Sectional Chart,
which depicted it as a private airfield having a 1,900' unpaved runway.
The 1960 USGS topo map depicted Mills airport as a single unpaved northeast/southwest runway, labeled simply as “Landing Strip”.
A single small building was depicted along the west side.
The earliest photo which has been located of Mills Airport was a June 1965 photo by Frank Doljck of a Cessna 172D of “Our friend [who was] just married & his plane was decorated.”
Frank Doljack recalled, “I rented & flew aircraft out of Mills Airport from 1965 to the end of 1978.
Mills Airport was situated on the farm of Ken Mills. He kept his Tri-Pacer in one of the hangars.
The airport & its runway paralleled the road on the west boundary of the farm, the farmhouse & buildings were on the northeast end, and a dormant (in 1965) gravel pit was situated on the southeast end.
The farm itself was about 100 acres. Ken Mills grew a hybrid corn used for animal feed & planted not only his property but also nearby properties that leased to him.
In summer the runway was surrounded on both sides with tall corn & Mills usually cut down a number of rows on each side so aircraft were less likely to catch a wing since the runway was not wide.
On one occasion a low-wing Piper did go into the corn before the corn was cut.
Mills usually cut it when it got high enough to bother the high-wing aircraft that were hangared at the field.
So, low-wing aircraft needed to strictly stay on the centerline throughout roll out during this time period.
Ken operated the farm with his wife & two sons, Larry (the youngest) and Alvin.
Alvin lived with his family on a property across the road from the airport near the south end of the runway.”
Frank continued, “The hangars were situated mid-field, close to the runway, and they connected in a row on each side of an old hay barn that certainly pre-dated the hangars.
Near the center of this row of buildings were a small office & a single gas pump. The far south end hangar had a small 'outdoor' potty.
In 1965 Lou Melter & his wife Ann relocated their business operations to Mills Airport after selling & closing Solon Airport (Solon, Ohio) that Lou founded before WW2.
At Mills he maintained 2 aircraft for rental & instruction & as an IA continued to do occasional annuals & repairs.
Everyone called him Louie & referred to him as Lou or Louie. Never Louis.”
Frank continued, “Operating in & out of Mills had its idiosyncrasies.
During the spring thaw before the frost entirely left the ground, usually the full month of April, the field was unusable due to the soft, wet ground.
In the winter the runway was left unplowed after significant snowfall because plowing normally lead to narrowing of an already narrow runway and would leave snow ridges that lasted well into spring.
Therefore, airport use went down a lot in snowy winters.
Traffic not associated with airport tenants of which there were few (about 10 aircraft) was usually instruction flights from nearby Kent State Airport
(later Portage County Airport which was built just south of Mills) attempting to obtain practice at a grass strip.
With no run-up area one taxied to the end & did the run-up facing more or less toward left base to make sure there was no surprise (with an eye toward right base for any non-compliant arrival).
Most often departure was to the southwest with a quartering cross-wind from the west.
Landing to the southwest found one making a left base parallel to & over the Ohio Turnpike & flying final over wires at the road at the north end of the airport.
The approach end of the runway had a low spot which rose uphill to about where one flared & touched down.
This made the flare tricky in order to avoid slamming into the hill. It was further aggravated by what seemed to be a perpetual downdraft as one passed over the road.
Landing to the northwest was much easier although it involved a downhill slope, which made the landing somewhat long.
If one stopped shortly after passing the hangars with not much runway left, this was normal.”
A September 1969 photo by Frank Doljck at Mills Airport of “Stan Howe’s wrecked rare 1936 Waco after landing in a corn field about a mile from the airport after the prop governor oil pump failed on climb out.
The new Portage County Airport runway was his first choice but some people were on it flying model airplanes, so Stan opted to try to return to Mills.
The Hamilton-Standard prop design was counter-weighted so loss of oil pressure put the prop into high pitch, which in turn caused the aircraft to lose altitude.
Unfortunately, Stan could not reach the airport & instead opted for a corn field.”
The 1970 USGS topo map depicted “Mills Airfield” as having a single unpaved northeast/southwest runway
along with a single small building along the west side.
A September 1970 aerial view by Frank Doljck looking northeast at Mills Airport, showing one light single-engine aircraft parked near the hangars on the west side of the grass runway.
A 1994 USGS aerial view looking northwest at Mills Airport showed that although the runway appeared distinct & maintained,
there were no aircraft visible, nor any other indication of recent aviation usage.
As of July 2011, Mills Airport's FAA Airport/Facility Directory data described it as conducting an average of 20 takeoffs or landings per week.
Mills Airport had evidently been abandoned by 2015, as the runway was planted with crops.
As of 2016, Mills Airport's FAA Airport/Facility Directory data described it as having a single 2,640' turf Runway 3/21, “in good condition”.
It was said to have a total of 10 single-engine aircraft based on the field,
and the owner & manager were listed as Larry & Alvin Mills.
The 2016 Terminal Aeronautical Chart continued to depict Mills Airport as a public-use airfield,
even though it was no longer suitable for aircraft operations by that point.
A 6/24/16 photo by Randy Coller looking along the former runway of Mills Airport.
Randy reported, “I talked to the owner - he thought the airport had been abandoned officially years ago.
Apparently no one did the proper paperwork to abandon the airport as the FAA still shows it on the charts.
The runway is planted in soybeans, with a gravel quarry adjacent. The airport is not suitable for aircraft.”
A 6/24/16 photo by Randy Coller of the interior of the Mills Airport hangar. Randy reported, “The hangar is vacant.”
A 6/24/16 photo by Randy Coller of an abandoned Mills Airport hangar. Note the windsock frame on top, and the AOPA Airport Watch sign on the side.
Frank Doljack reported in 2017, “Ken Mills & the Melter’s have long passed & today one can see that all of the land parallel to & east of the runway is now gravel pit & water.
Apparently, at some point the sons Larry & Alvin decided leasing to gravel operations was a better deal than growing corn.”
Mills Airport is located southeast of the intersection of Infirmary Road & Ritchfield Hudson Road.
Thanks to Randy Coller for pointing out this airfield.
Youngstown Executive Airport (06G), Youngstown, OH
41.06, -80.83 (Southeast of Cleveland, OH)
Youngstown Executive Airport, as depicted not long after its construction on a 4/21/62 USGS aerial photo.
This small general aviation airport was apparently built at some point between 1960-62,
as it was not depicted on the 1960 Cleveland Local Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe).
The earliest depiction which has been located of Youngstown Executive Airport was on a 4/21/62 USGS aerial photo.
The field appeared to be newly-completed, with a single asphalt northwest/southeast runway,
and an asphalt taxiway leading to a hangar on the north side, and a ramp on which were visible 3 aircraft.
The earliest aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of Youngstown Executive Airport
was on the 1963 Cleveland Local Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe).
The Aerodromes table on the chart described the field as having a single 3,000' asphalt runway.
The 1963 USGS topo map depicted Youngstown Executive Airport
as having a single paved northwest/southeast runway & 3 small buildings on the north side.
The runway at Youngstown Executive was apparently lengthened within the next 2 years,
as the 1965 Cleveland Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)
described the field as having a single 4,200' asphalt runway.
The 1966 OH Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)
depicted 2 rows of T-hangars on the north side of the runway,
as well as a new hangar & administration building.
Scott Tanner recalled, “Youngstown Executive Airport... I worked as a line boy at the airport around 1970.
It was run by Frank Corby, and his brother Mario. Some of the names I remember are Ray Penny, Scott Rapp, Jack Wilson, Scott Cory.
I took flying lessons there. I have lots of good memories from those days like watching the drag races & calling the tower when a plane was about to land.
One time, I even got to run the tug down the track on a Saturday night.
I don't remember my time but I'm sure it was a record for the slowest ever 1/4 mile ever.”
The May 1970 Cleveland Sectional Chart depicted Youngstown Executive as having a 4,200' paved northwest/southeast runway.
Jay McMurray recalled of Youngstown Executive Airport, "I started flying there in 1973
and worked as a 'Lineboy' fueling airplanes that summer.
We closed for the races on weekend nights.
The field was also used for a lot of cargo flights. Beech 18's were common.
I used to work till sundown & hop on a Beech 18 or some other lighter twin
and fly all night with the cargo pilot flying Packard Electric car parts
around to the various cities making cars: Oshawa Canada, Detroit, Andersen Indiana etc."
A flight simulation scenery re-creation looking northeast at Youngstown Executive Airport by Richard Finley.
Dan Anthony recalled, “I took my first flight lessons out of Youngstown Executive Airport
and was one of the 'line boys' from about 1973-75.
With my employee discount my hourly rate for a Cessna 150 or 152 & the instructor
was about $15 but I was making only minimum wage ($1.65 / hour at the time).
The airport was a Cessna Dealer & sold many new Cessnas
that ended up getting leased back into the flight training program.
One nice thing about taking lessons at this airport was there were always new airplanes to fly.
As a line boy one of my jobs was to clean & wax the airplanes.
The instructors liked when I scheduled a lesson because the plane I scheduled for myself
was pulled from the line & cleaned spotless just prior to my lesson, I made sure of that!”
Dan continued, “They also had a thriving charter service with a Cessna 421 (Golden Eagle),
a C-410, C-310s, Piper Navaho and the Beech 18s.
The Beeches were used as freight haulers & passenger planes
(as a line boy I was required to load & unload the freight & install/remove the seats).
They had a very active A&P shop to maintain the fleet of training aircraft
and the private planes hangared on the field as well as many that would fly in for their maintenance needs.
They also had an active radio shop.”
Dan continued, “During my time there they had an annual Fly-In
and planes from all over the country would drop in.
At the Fly-In the training fleet was used to give 'penny-a-pound' rides to anyone that wanted a ride in a small plane.
We had a bathroom scale & the person would step on & get weighed
and we collected a Penney for every pound & off they went.”
Dan continued, “The drag-racing that was every Friday & Saturday Night during the racing season...
One of my jobs was to work the radios once the FBO’s daytime staff left.
The pilots based at 06G didn’t like the fact that the airport closed for drag racing
and many would takeoff just prior to race time & then buzz the runway or interrupt the racing by landing.
One of the charter pilots would often take the B-18 down
and blow the racing timing lights or the 'Christmas tree' & starter shack over
with his prop-wash & run-up prior to a late evening take-off.
Because of these intentional pilot-induced delays the race sponsors hired an off-duty, uniformed police officer
to operate the radios & 'talk' to any pilot that wanted to land or takeoff.”
A 1978 photo by Charles Brasile (used by permission) of a Douglas DC-3 of Mannion Air Charter departing Youngstown Executive Airport.
The 1982 AOPA Airport Directory (courtesy of Ed Drury)
described Youngstown Executive as having a single 4,155' asphalt Runway 11/29.
The last aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of Youngstown Executive Airport was on the October 1993 Detroit Sectional Chart. (courtesy of Ron Plante).
It depicted Youngstown Executive as having a 4,200' paved northwest/southeast runway.
A 6/21/85 airport directory (courtesy of John Kielhofer) depicted Youngstown Executive Airport
as having a 4,170' paved Runway 11/29, and a ramp 4 buildings on the north side.
Dan Anthony recalled, “The large hangar to the right of the FBO building...
This hangar & most of the airplanes inside & tied-down all over the airport
were destroyed by a tornado sometime in the mid 1980s.
Shortly after that the FBO folded & then the rest of the place fell apart.”
A 4/20/94 USGS aerial view looking southeast showed Youngstown Executive to consist of a single paved 4,100' runway & some small hangars.
A small middle portion of the runway appeared to have been recently repaved, possibly for radio-controlled model aircraft flights.
Only 1 (or possibly 2) aircraft were visible on the field.
Youngstown Executive was evidently closed (for reasons unknown) at some point between 1994-2002,
as it was depicted as an abandoned airfield on 2002 aeronautical charts.
The rows of T-hangars were still standing in a 2005 aerial photo,
but had been removed by the time of a 2006 aerial photo.
A circa 2001-2005 aerial view looking north at Youngstown Executive Airport,
showing that the hangars & runway remain in fine condition.
A 4/6/12 aerial view looking southeast showed Youngstown Executive to remain mostly intact, with the exception of the removed T-hangars.
In contrast to the 1994 photo, a different portion of the runway (further west) has been recently repaved, for radio-controlled model aircraft flights.
Kevin Marstellar reported in 2013, “My radio-controlled model aircraft club - The Nighthawks -
now uses the airstrip which we 'rent' from Allison Brothers who owns the property now.
Full-scale aircraft still do occasionally use it - but very rarely.
We have an annual Father's Day event where a local medevac helicopter usually comes & is available to check out.
We also host several other large RC events where a couple people will fly their full-scale planes in.”
In the words of Gene Zeigler, "Much aviation history in Northeast Ohio is lost
and very few of these facts have been recorded for the future generations to know about."
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