1951 Dedication of Bradford-McKean Airport
25,000 See Airport Dedication Show

photo credit: The Bradford Era August 13, 1951
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Airport Dedication Program
McKean County Democrat August 9, 1951

Here is the tentative schedule of events for the two-day celebration Aug. 11-12 marking the dedication of the Bradford-McKean Airport at Mt. Alton. (All times are Eastern Daylight Saving.)


4 p. m. -- Arrival of United Air Lines DC-4 Cargo liner, carrying orchids and pineapples from Hawaii for distribution at the dinner. Plane will be on exhibition, with other planes and also exhibits by area firms using air transportation, during the weekend.
4:26 p. m. -- Arrival of All-American Airways plane bound for Pittsburgh.
5:00 p. m. -- Opening of industrial exhibit.
6:30 p. m. -- Dinner at Executive Hangar.
9:00 p. m. -- Official illumination of new landing lights.
9:00 p. m. -- Round and square dancing in administration building.

* * * * *


8 to 10 a. m. -- Arrival of private fliers.
10 a. m. -- Breakfast flight for private fliers.
11 a. m. -- Opening of industrial exhibits and the DC-4 Cargo liner for public inspection.
11:34 a.m. -- Arrival of All-American flight for Pittsburgh.
11:41 a. m. -- Arrival of All-American flight for Buffalo.
12:30 to 2 p. m. -- Concert by Citizens Band
1:15 p. m. -- Arrival of United Air Lines flight for the West.
1:50 p. m. -- Arrival of United flight for Philadelphia and New York.
2 to 4 p. m. -- National Air Shows exhibitions, free to public.
4 p. m. -- Demonstration flight of Bell Helicopter.
4:26 p. m. -- Arrival of All-American plane for Pittsburgh.
Time of arrival of military planes over field will be announced at airport.
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McKean County Now in Full Step With Aerial Age --
Thanks to Fine Facilities at Mt. Alton Installation

McKean County Democrat August 9, 1951


Some people who witness the dedication program at Bradford-McKean Airport next Saturday and Sunday will remember vividly when oxen, horses and steam engines were the only common form of motive power.

Strangers traveling along Route 59 at Mt. Alton, and failing to read the signs, would never suspect they were parallel to this section's largest and most modern airport, less than an eighth of a mile away!

Thanks to a fortunate combination of circumstances, and plenty of hard work on the part of interested organizations and individuals, McKean County finds itself fully abreast of facilities for aerial freight, express and passenger service. This is particularly important to communities like Smethport, once served by three railroads, which now has no passenger trains at all.

The Bradford-McKean Airport that will be dedicated Saturday and Sunday is a Class 3 field. It is located in the center of a 2800 square mile area and serves a population of nearly 300,000 persons, of whom 100,000 live in or adjacent to eight major communities--Warren, Kane, Johnsonburg, St. Marys, Ridgway, Salamanca, Olean, Smethport, Mt. Jewett, Port Allegany and Bradford,.

The history of the Bradford-McKean Airport is typically American. It represents hard work by the pioneers of the movement. It is symbolic of determination that gradually transformed ideas, plans and hopes into actuality.

In 1940, a group of men were interested in seeing a large airport developed to serve the immediate area. A meeting was called of McKean County in June, 1941. At the meeting a resolution was passed urging the County Commissioners and Bradford City Council to sponsor and support a federal airport project.

On June 17, 1941 this section came about. The next day the plans and estimates for a proposed airfield were submitted to the Civil Aeronautics Commission.

On June 16, 1941, Bradford City Council appointed a committee including county and city solicitors to acquire land at the Mt. Alton site.

Land purchases were next and these were completed in the spring of 1942 at a total cost of $25,000, which sum was paid by McKean County and turned over to the City of Bradford as a sponsor. The total purchase amounted to 715 acres.

U. S. Army Engineers were next on the scene and after inspection they approved the site. Bids for clearing and grading were received March 11, 1942 and work was finally begun and completed Dec. 2, 1942,

In 1942 the paving of the runways, an apron and face strip was started on July 4 and completed on Oct. 13.

The airport was financed through $25,000 from McKean County, $25,000 from the City of Bradford and $125,000 from local industries and individuals. State and federal aid made up the rest of the financial picture for construction and establishment of the airport.

A total of 29 contributors, including the county and city, raised the money for the initial steps. This amounted to $175,000 and included Bradford and Olean concerns.

The Bradford-McKean Airport serves 97 communities, 379,343 people and over 75 industries.

A report received by the Democrat yesterday afternoon stated that approximately 7,000 people have flown in and out of the airport during the first seven months of this year.

The big hilltop field, only nine miles from Smethport, has a perfect safety record.

The airport provides direct air travel to and from the following cities in the county: Buffalo, Chester, Syracuse, Cleveland, Detroit, Toledo, Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, D. C., Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Harrisburg, Albany, Erie, Davenport, Des Moines, Omaha, Denver, Spokane, San Diego, Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland and Seattle.

Mail, freight, and express are also carried in and out of the airport on a regular schedule. United Airlines and All-American Airways operate daily flights in and out of the field. These companies have also invested thousands of dollars in office equipment, personnel, office space and information bureaus.

The Bradford-McKean Airport has been one of the greatest investments for the people of the area in that it has brought modern transportation methods and opportunities to an area that is gradually becoming devoid of rail passenger service.

Europe is only 20 to 24 hours away from Smethport via the Mt. Alton Airport. No spot in the world, however remote, is much more than 60 hours away.

Twenty-five years ago the McKean County Democrat, heartily seconding the sentiments expressed by the late journalist, Arthur Brisbane, repeatedly urged McKean County communities to provide facilities to keep abreast of air transportation. It is gratifying to note, after all these years, that our county--and surrounding territory--is in tune with the times, thanks to the magnificent Bradford-McKean Airport.
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Helicopter Show, Military Planes Feature Program
McKean County Democrat August 9, 1951

A helicopter demonstration, flights of military planes and the appearance of the National Air Shows in a thrilling program will be among the highlights of the dedication of the Bradford-McKean Airport this weekend at the huge airport at Mt. Alton.

A Bell Aircraft helicopter is expected to arrive at an early hour Sunday and will be on display during the day leading up to a flight demonstration about four o’clock, David Scott Jr., airport general manager, said Monday afternoon at the dedication committee meeting at the The Emery.

The National Air Shows, with Bill Sweet, a leading figure in aviation shows, will provide spectacular stunt and exhibition flying, starting Sunday afternoon at two o’clock. The program committee pointed out the public will not be charged to witness this show.

Air Force planes are expected over Bradford, Olean and Salamanca as well as the field on Saturday and Sunday, according to Lt. Col. John G. Krleger, Salamanca, N. Y., deputy commander of 9064 Volunteer Air Force Reserve Group.

Private fliers will arrive Sunday for a breakfast flight at ten a.m.

While the Sunday programs are expected to bring out the greatest turnout, many aviation enthusiasts are expected for the Saturday schedule, which includes a dinner in the executive hangar at 6:30 p.m., a dance in the Administration Building at 9 p.m., and the official illumination of the landing lights at 9 p.m. Many notables will attend the dinner and the other Saturday night affairs. Reservations for the dinner and for the dance-both of which will be informal-may still be made at the Board of Commerce office.

Industrial and aviation displays-including a United Air Lines Cargo cruiser-will be available for inspection on both Saturday and Sunday. In addition to the private planes, military craft, the helicopter and the Air Show planes, airport visitors will also see the regularly scheduled flights of United Air Lines and All-American Airways planes.

The Citizens Band of Bradford will give a concert from 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m. Sunday.
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Dedication of a Dream
By Kenton C. Abbey
McKean County Democrat August 9, 1951

When they dedicate the modern, $1,500,000 Bradford-McKean Airport at Mt. Alton with appropriate ceremonies next Saturday and Sunday, thousand who will be present (weather permitting) will see a remarkable lay-out of physical property in the form of two paved runways, each nearly a mile long; a beautiful administration building; commodious hangars; new landing lights.

All these-and more-will be dedicated. The lusty infant airport has grown up and it is high time some formal christening ceremony took place.

What the crowds won’t see Saturday and Sunday, unless the individuals have good memories, is the dedication of a dream. And two of the men most concerned won’t be there. We refer to those McKean County aviation pioneers of revered memory, Lt. Harri Emery and Parker Cramer.

Both Emery and Cramer possessed the soaring spirit, the indomitable courage, and the keen vision of the true pioneers of the air lanes. Both died as they, themselves, probably expected they would, with their hands on the controls of a plane.

But they didn't die before they contributed a full share-and more-toward the modern facilities you will see at Mt. Alton Saturday and Sunday.

Aviation was born at Kitty Hawk Dec. 17, 1903, when the Wright Bros. first performed the supposedly impossible feat of soaring skyward in a heavier-than-air machine. World War I gave flying machines a great boost, and the activities of men like Emery and Cramer, who are gone, and Joe Fields and Herman Alexander, who are alive today, played vital roles in McKean County’s aerial development.

Harri Emery’s skill with a plane is legendary. One of the many true stories about him concern the time he flew the late County Detective Jack J. Allison to Columbus, O., on official business. The two men prepared to stay overnight at a hotel, when Emery suggested they return home at once, even though it was pitch dark. Mr. Allison agreed to the plan. They took off and flew to the Allegheny River, which they followed to Warren. Then they headed unerringly through the darkness for Bradford, where a perfect landing was made.

This feat almost equaled the inherent abilities of a homing pigeon.

It wasn’t long afterward that Emery crashed to his death on a fog-shrouded field in Kane. But at the last the old master of seat-of-the-pants navigation and cow pasture landings almost won a reprieve for his passengers and himself from the Grim Reaper. How he did it no one knows, but he circled repeatedly over Kane in the pea soup fog and finally made an attempt to land on the only piece of ground suitable for the purport. He might have made it if a wing tip hadn’t struck the invisible earth before the landing wheels.

The memory of this pioneer of the McKean County air lanes is preserved in the Harri Emery Airport, Bradford, named in his honor.

Equally fabulous tales were told about Parker Cramer. One day this aviator tired of flying over the same old bridge at Clarion-and he calmly performed the spectacular feat of flying under the bridge.

Cramer became fired with a desire for new worlds to conquer. In this case “new worlds” actually meant the Old World-for he was one of the pioneers of trans-Atlantic flying.

And like Harri Emery, Cramer almost made it. He was last reported in the vicinity of the Orkney Islands, north of Scotland, within “sight” of his goal.

From the crazy box-kite contraption of the Wright Brothers to jet planes piercing the sonic barrier; from cow pastures to the Bradford-McKean Airport at Mt. Alton. Yes, aviation has come a long way in the past quarter of a century.

And it has reached its present high state of efficiency in peace and war thanks to men like Harri Emery and Parker Cramer-men who were born with the blood of pioneers in their veins; nerves of iron, and a vision of the future possessed by few.
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Interesting Notes About Dedication Of McKean Airport
McKean County Democrat August 9, 1951


Major James R. Storms, photo officer from Buffalo, will take aerial views as well as ground pictures Sunday, August 12th, in conjunction with the dedication of Bradford-McKean Airport at Mt. Alton, slated for this Saturday and Sunday.


The picnic area and wooded knoll just back of the modern Administration Building at Bradford-McKean Airport at Mt. Alton afford ideal places for picnic lunches and relaxing. It is expected the facilities of this area will be taxed heavily August 11 and 12 when airport dedication ceremonies will be held. Sunday afternoon especially, a large crowd is expected for flights of military planes, National Air Shows (open to the public without charge), a helicopter demonstration and aviation and industrial exhibits.


As a service to airmen, Civil Aeronautics Administration inspectors will set up at Bradford-McKean Airport at Mt. Alton, on August 11 and 12. These inspectors will be on hand during the airport's dedication ceremonies to process pilot identification cards for airmen who do not yet have them. Incidentally, pilots and passengers as well as other folks visiting Bradford-McKean Airport from now on will find restaurant facilities in the Administration Building. The service began Sunday, August 5, with Mrs. Ruth Murphy of Bradford in charge.


The Bradford-McKean County Chapter, American Red Cross, will have a first aid tent and ambulance facilities available for anyone needing attention the week end of August 11 and 12 when Bradford-McKean Airport at Mt. Alton will be officially dedicated. The Bradford Fire Department will furnish equipment and Bradford, Pennsylvania State and Auxiliary police will direct parking.
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Biggest Crowd In History Of McKean Co. Witnesses Program at Airport Sunday
McKean County Democrat August 16, 1951

The largest crowd ever to assemble at any time, in any place in McKean County witnessed a milestone in the greatest cooperative effort in behalf of aviation in this section of the United States last Saturday and Sunday. The formal dedication ceremonies of the $1,500,000 Bradford-McKean Airport at Mt. Alton attracted total attendance estimated at well over 25,000 persons to the modern hilltop installation nine miles from Smethport.

When plans for the ceremony and celebration were first discussed, some predictions were made that it would be difficult to provide sufficient parking space at the airport. For this reason, special buses were provided to run to and from Bradford.

And it was suggested that attendance "might run into five figures."

The attendance certainly did run into five figures-and how! Who could have foreseen that parking space for 5,000 cars would prove to be totally inadequate-and countless hundreds would be turned away because they couldn't even get into the airport!

Not only was the field jammed, but the surrounding countryside was full of cars and spectators who watched Sunday's aerial show from a distance.

United States Senator James H. Duff, former governor of Pennsylvania, headed the list of distinguished guests who attended the dedication dinner, held in the Executive Hangar at the airport, Saturday night.

The formal dedication took place at 10:05 p.m. Saturday when Sen. Duff and Ralph T. Zook, former chairman and long-time member of the Bradford Aviation Commission, unveiled a plaque marking the occasion which will hand in the airport's administration building.

The plaque read as follows:
"Bradford - McKean Airport. First scheduled airline service, Sept. 8, 1948. Formally dedicated, Aug. 11, 1951."
"Conceived during World War II as a military installation and continued as a peacetime project through the combined efforts of our citizens and industries, who gave so generously of their time and money to make air transportation available to this area."

Sunday's huge crowd - in a picnic mood - thronged over the airport, watched the airport, watched the precision flying and comic and acrobatic stunts of the air show, swarmed through the huge DC-4 Cargoliner which was on exhibition and toured industrial exhibits which represented a cross-section of the area's industry.

Citing the local airport as "one of the vital links in the defense of the Eastern seaboard. Sen. Duff, nevertheless, warned his audience of about 350 persons that "we have a shoestring air force compared to Russia" and that the United States must build, quickly, the strongest air force in the world.

Duff quoted U.S. Air Force leaders as saying that at present the United States is outnumbered 10 to1 in the air by Russia and that we will still trail by a 5 to 1 ratio at the end of 1952.

Pointing out that the United States has the greatest commercial aviation in the world, the senator also paid high tribute to William T. Piper, former Bradford resident and now president of the Piper Aircraft Corp., Lock Haven, for "bringing the airplane within reach of the average person.

"We must immediately develop such a tremendously superior air force that Russia will not attack because it dare not run the risk of retaliation we could throw against them." said Duff, adding that "we are not within gun shot of that goal today."

Alvin R. Bush, U. S. House of Representatives member from the 15th Pennsylvania District, traced the development of transportation and said that we have "only seen the start of air travel."

Albert Wessell, representing the Civil Aeronautics Administration, stated that "this airport didn't come by itself," but was the result of a cooperative community effort.

The CAA representative concluded his remarks by quoting Kipling, "This is the first page and the first verse of the first chapter of unusual possibilities," in stating that he expected the Bradford-McKean Airport would continue its growth.

Others who spoke were William McMillin, member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Pennsylvania Aeronautics Commission: Robert Rowley, representing Robert Love, president of All American Airways; Walter Swan, assistant to the president of United Air Lines; James D. Wolfe, president of the Bradford Board of Commerce; David Scott Jr., general manager of the airport; Ralph T. Zook, former chairman and for many years a member of the Bradford Aviation Commission, and Bradford's Mayor Hugh J. Ryan, who relied as toastmaster.

Mayor Ryan introduced Orvel S. Scott, John B. Callahan and R. E. Youngquist, McKean County Commissioners; James S. Berger, Pennsylvania senator, Albert W. Johnson, Pennsylvania House of Representatives; Judge Charles G. Hubbard; Orvis Gill, Thomas Conneely and James Butterworth, Bradford City Councilmen, and Frank Brewster, Mr. Scott, Mr. Zook, Hugh George, Donald Klepper, Hector Boncher, Henry Satterwhite and William Loveland, president of former members of the Bradford Aviation Commission.

Also introduced were Frank Stack, manager of the airport; Thomas Gustafson, mayer of Olean; Raymond D. Sill, secretary-manager of the Bradford Board of Commerce, and Lt. Col. John G. Krieger, Salamanca, deputy commander of the 9064th Volunteer Air Reserve Group.

Highlight of the Saturday program was when the newly installed runway lights were turned on for the first time officially. Mrs. David Scott and Mrs. Ralph T. Zook threw the switch which illuminated the runways.

The first after dark flight from the field was made a few minutes later with Mayor Ryan, Mr. Scott and Mr. Zook as passengers. Mr. Stack piloted the plane.

A dance in the administration building of the airport followed the program.

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