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A little background on Benedum Airport

by Bob Stealey

Editor

Betty Henry of Arbutus Park, widow of Charles "Chuck" Henry -- he may be remembered as the owner of the Clarksburg Engraving Company and as an airplane pilot -- submitted some information about Benedum Airport that was provided in the early 1980s that I thought was interesting, especially considering the extensive work that is currently under way there. Allow me to include excerpts of that report:

"In the early '30s, some foresighted citizens of Harrison, Marion and Taylor counties perceived the idea that air travel was the transportation of the future and in order to keep pace with the world an air facility was needed for the area. This idea was on the heels of the 'Great Depression' and money was very hard to come by. These gentlemen, however, were able to convince the tri-county courts to sponsor an airport development.

"After considerable planning and promotion, land was leased in 1935 and a 'primitive' airfield was begun. Because it was a tri-county effort, the new airfield was called Tri-County Airport. The runway was a short, grass strip on leased land. In 1937, Marion and Taylor County courts decided to withdraw from the project, leaving Harrison County to 'go it' alone. In early 1938, the Harrison County Court purchased the land and began a gradual development program.

"During this time, the federal government began a new program referred to as 'The New Deal' under President (Franklin) Roosevelt which provided money, materials and manpower for construction projects. This program was called the WPA. In 1938, Harrison County availed itself of the program and constructed the first bituminous concrete runway of 3,700 feet (extended later to 5,200 feet). Shortly after this construction, a crosswind runway of 3,000 feet was constructed. In addition to runway construction, the WPA assisted in building a hangar and a small administration building.

"At this point, the airport was used almost exclusively for private general aviation. Then in 1939, American Airlines introduced the first scheduled air carrier service, but this only lasted for one year. American stated that they withdrew because the runways were too short and the approach clearances were not suitable for the type aircraft they were using.

"During WWII, the U.S. Army Air Corps used the facility as a training base and it was not until 1948 that the air carrier service was continued at what is now called Benedum Airport by Capitol Airlines, which operated briefly until it was absorbed by United Airlines and then discontinued. In 1960, Lake Central served the airport until it was taken over by Allegheny in 1968. Allegheny Airlines (later known as USAir) served the airport until it withdrew in February 1979.

"Benedum Airport is operated by an Airport Authority established by act of the Legislature in 1960. It was at this time that Marion County again agreed to participate in a joint effort with Harrison County. ...

"In fiscal year 1978-79, the Airport Authority expended in excess of $63,000 for airport improvements. This share was matched with approximately $260,000 federal money. In fiscal 1979-80, approximately $241,000 was used for airport improvements. The Federal Aviation Administration completed (in 1980) a new radar facility which will serve not only Benedum but Elkins and Morgantown, the total cost being $4.2 million."

My thanks to my friend Betty Henry for making that information available to me.

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Readers of the Exponent Telegram today may want to check out Parade magazine's weekly feature "Walter Scott's Personality Parade." Included this issue, Judy Bennett of Clarksburg asks Walter Scott why Barbara Walters includes the notorious Monica Lewinsky as a regular on her TV show, "The View."Turn to Page 2 of Parade to see the answer.

n n n

Bernice Houillet of Clarksburg has asked me to announce that nine local piano pupils Angotti's class in Clarksburg have registered as candidates for membership in the National Fraternity of Student Musicians, sponsored by the National Guild of Piano Teachers, Teacher Division of The American College of Musicians, of which their teacher is a member.

The students played in the National Piano Playing Auditions in Parkersburg, striving for pledges, local, district, state, national and even international honors, which the mother organization will confer according to the number of standard Baroque, Classical, romantic and modern pieces chosen from the Masters of Pianoforte Literature that each student could creditably perform in the presence of an imported examiner of note.

Names of the local entrants included: Alex Folio, Angelina Angotti, Bernice Houillet, Auvid Momen, Anastasia Dupont, Paul Joseph Dupont, Emily Shaffer, Sarah Nale and Maria Guarascio.

Thanks, Bernice. And have a great week, one and all!

Editor Bob Stealey can be reached at 626-1438.

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