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COBWEB CORNERS: The real start of local aviation history

By Mel McFarland

        One of our early airports was near Kelker, southeast of Colorado Springs, but the year 1927, when two airports opened, really marks the start of aviation history in this area.
       One of them was near where the present airport is located. The city paid $17,243 for a 640-acre location in late 1927. The official name was the Dillwyn Parrish Field, named after the deceased former owner of the property.
       Initially, the spot lacked any hangers, but there was a commonly used grass landing strip. Plans called for running a power line to the field and building a terminal. There was also an earlier offer by the Broadmoor Hotel's Spencer Penrose to build a hanger in anticipation of aircraft carrying passengers booked at the hotel.
       The airmail service was already using the property in 1927, and the Pikes Peak Flying Club had moved to the field. The airmail plane arrived daily. A single-engine Boeing, it could also carry two passengers, but as yet no passenger flights were regularly scheduled to Colorado Springs.
       In addition to the mail plane and the flying club, at least one resident of Colorado Springs, Robert Edgar, kept his plane at the field. Access to the field was a dirt road, named Airport Road, which you may have wondered about.
       The other airport that opened in 1927 was Nichols Field. This was built by Alexander Aircraft, as mentioned in a recent column. The location was off Nevada Avenue, north of present day Fillmore Street and east of the Santa Fe's Pikeview railroad station - now best known as the location of the Northfield power plant.
       Already existing in 1927 were landing strips at Garden Valley, near present day Templeton Gap and Academy Boulevard; and at Pine Valley, near the Air Force Academy's present-day airfield. At that time, US highway 85-87 passed just feet from the end of the Pine Valley runway. 1-25 was later built well east of the old highway's location, but the newer runway does not run east and west like the older airfield's did. As a youngster, I can remember at least once when there was an airplane and automobile incident.
       World War II brought serious changes to the airport on Airport Road, and the entrance to Peterson Field became Platte Avenue.

(Posted 2/21/15; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Editor's note: Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since early 2004. To see past columns, go to the Pioneer's Archives. Either look for desired articles under the Cobweb Corners category for any year, or search by keywords in the Find box.

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