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COBWEB CORNERS: Tough landing at the Manitou airport

By Mel McFarland

        Did you know there once was a Manitou Airport? As I have looked into our region's aviation history this one popped right up as a surprise. It was even wilder when I learned what part of Manitou it was in. I'll let your imagination mull that one over, before I tell you.
       What started this was spotting the news in May 1928 that a prize of $100 was given to C. B. Keller for being the first to land at the airport. He was flying a Hess Bluebird aircraft owned by C.W. Smith of Colorado Springs. Mr. Keller was a former Marine aviator who worked for Alexander Aircraft as an inspector.
       Now, I will not yet share with you the name of the owner of the field, who gave him the $100, because that will tell you where it was, but the story is quite wild. It seems the landing was a bit rough, and one of the wheels came off during the landing. Keller made repairs and after a while took off, completing the requirements for the prize.
       It seems that an Eaglerock, which was a type of plane being built in the Alexander factory on North Nevada Avenue, had been the aircraft originally planned for the flight, but it was not quite ready.
       The field itself was that way too! It was ungraded and dotted with rocks providing hazards. This made landing and taking off very interesting and helped remove the wheel from the aircraft!
       So, ready to hear where this was? The exact location is unknown, but, the land was owned by A.T. McLaughlin. Know where McLaughlin's Lodge is located (now affiliated with Cheyenne Village)? Know where Crystal Park Road is? It is in east Manitou, south of Manitou Avenue and well up into the canyon.
       I am not sure how long the airport idea lasted, but the story in the newspaper says that McLaughlin planned to do tourist plane rides around Pikes Peak!

(Posted 7/6/15; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Editor's note: Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since 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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