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New Municipal Castle Airport - Union Twnp PA

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The first airfield in Lawrence County was laid out in about 1927 along the Harlansburg Road at McCaslin – somewhere near the modern- day site of Laurel High School. It was a crude facility (with two crossing runways) established on a farm owned by C. L. “Roy” McMillan, an attorney and the former New Castle City Treasurer. Famous aviator Clarence D. Chamberlain made a stop at the field in April 1928. Local aviation enthusiast D. Roy Bradford (1895-1963), as head of the New Castle Aircraft Inc., improved the field during 1928 but it was soon deemed unsuitable for expansion. (1939)


Bradford (on left) is shown here with former U.S. Navy aviator Raymond J. “Duke” Merritt, who teamed together in 1928 to take part in a trans-continental air race. Merritt departed the local area in early 1929 to start flying airmail routes in Central and South America with famous aviator Charles A. Lindbergh. (1928)


In the summer of 1928, with the financial backing of the New Castle City Council, Bradford purchased land and opened a new airport (shown above) near Parkstown Corners in Union Township. New Castle Aircraft Inc., led by Bradford, apparently acquired and owned the property. The City of New Castle was allowed free use of the facility, but Bradford retained all commercial rights pertaining to it. (Jun 1937)


The new airfield was known as the “City of New Castle Airport,” but was usually referred to as the Bradford Flying Field or simply Bradford Field. At the airfield you could take a sightseeing flight, watch an acrobatic air show, or engage in flying lessons. An airmail pickup service, devised by inventor Lylte S. Adams, was instituted at the field in 1930. Bradford apparently sold his interest in the airport in 1932 and later relocated to California. (Mar 1929)


Skilled aviator Findley C. Wilson, a native of Slippery Rock Township, took over management of the New Castle Airport in about 1934. He built up the operations of the airport, erected several new hangers, and purchased additional property surrounding it. His future wife Maxine “Mickey” Wilson also became involved as a pilot and in May 1938 became the first woman from Lawrence County to undertake a solo flight. During World War II the Findley’s trained over 2,500 local college graduates for flight duty with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army. Findley operated the airport until he moved to Florida in the late 1950’s. He sold his interests and the City of New Castle became sole owner of the airport. (1944)


Findley C. Wilson (1906-1987), a school teacher by trade, was a well-accomplished flight instructor. He managed the airport for over twenty years. (c1982)


New Castle native Frank J. Farone (1915-1996), a well-known local pharmacist and former U.S. Army Air Corps aviator, took over management of airport operations in August 1960. (c1980)


After the departure of Findley Wilson the New Castle Airport Authority (NCAA) was established in August 1956 to take over control of the airport. It was initially proposed as a joint city- county venture, but the county commissioners soon withdrew. The county provided financial support though. In August 1960 the NCAA granted Castle Aviation, owned by Frank Farone, the right to operate and maintain the airport. Farone also established Airways Express, which provided freight and passenger charter service. In 1961 the NCAA debated on whether to upgrade the current airport or build a new one at another site. It was eventually decided to remain at the same location and the facility was greatly expanded during the 1960’s and 1970’s. (1959)


Frank Farone sold most of his stake in Castle Aviation and Airways Express during the mid-1960’s, but later served as a leading member of the New Castle Airport Authority from 1970-1985. Castle Aviation, whose ownership changed hands several times, managed the various operations of the airport until October 1973. (c1965)


Joseph C. Haski (1924-2003) of Haski Aviation, operating flights and providing aircraft maintenance at the airport since 1962, was granted a lease to manage the airport as the new “fixed-base operator” beginning in November 1973. (c1975)


Martin “Marty” Haski assisted his father with running the airport. The younger Haski took over sole ownership of Haski Aviation when his father retired in 2001. (c1995)


In the 1990’s the County Commissioners began serious discussions to take over the airport from the city. In May 1998 the Lawrence County Airport Authority was officially organized and later that year all property was transferred to county control. Haski Aviation continues to manage the airport as of 2017. (c2010) Full Size


A modern aerial view of New Castle Airport. (c2014)

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