From Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum Research Library files, courtesy of Marilyn Chang, volunteer Librarian/Archivist

 More Colorado Airport History .

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Knight Ranch-Lindbergh Field Grand County, Colorado - According to the 1933 Granby section of the local telephone book in the files of the Grand County Historical Association, “Five miles east and six miles north of Granby is an excellent aviation field. This is situated on the Knight ranch, the owner of which financed and was largely responsible for the epochal flight of his friend, Charles Lindberg (sic) from America to Paris.” 
Read more about this historic airfield, now under the waters of the Lake Granby Reservoir at

Colorado Aviation Pioneers

Many outstanding individuals have been recognized for their Colorado aviation heritage contributions through their induction into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame or with a Special Achievement Award by the Colorado Aviation Historical Society. Listed alphabetically, a complete list of these important Aviation Pioneers and short biographical information can be found at http://coloradoaviationhistoricalsociety.org/inductees_all.asp?menuID=12~12

The Ross-Barrett Historical Aeronautics Collection at the Denver Main Public Library Western Heritage include photos of Early Aircraft and Colorado Contributors to Aviation.

Here are a few noteworthy Colorado Aviation Pioneers in alphabetical order.

Harry B. Combs Colorado Native, born January 27, 1913 in Denver, it is written Harry Combs, “lived and breathed the Golden and Jet ages of aviation.” Read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_B._Combs  More information on this aviation legend is on the Colorado Aviation Historical Society site.  

Charles C. Gates, Jr. Extraordinary aviation leader, who purchased Lear Jet Corporation and partners to form Combs Gates Fixed Based Operations (FBO) and  Avionics Engineering of Denver which were based at Stapleton International Airport. In 1978, a fourth FBO at the then Arapahoe County Airport (now Centennial Airport APA) was purchased as Combs Gates Aviation, which later became AMR Combs. Four articles have been written about this aviation luminary at http://airportjournals.com/archives       

Nadine (Liscomb) Jeppesen- A former United Airlines stewardess, who met legendary Elrey B. Jeppesen on a United flight Chicago to Omaha when her ordered coffee and both were smitten for life. They married 9/24/1936 and had a 60-year partnership in building the world famous Jeppesen “Black book” Airway Manual. They moved to Colorado in 1941, where Nadine managed the storefront Jeppesen Flight Chart store on East Colfax Avenue while Elrey continued flying for United. Nadine hired cartographers, helped design and write copy for promotional materials. She continued to work as secretary/treasurer for the company until the Times Mirror Corporation bought the world-famous Jeppesen Company in 1961. Nadine Jeppesen was awarded the 1994 National Aeronautic Association Katharine Wright Award and in 1995 was inducted into the Women in Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame http://www.wai.org/pioneers    

Francis “Blondy” Lowry Born in Denver on December 1st, 1894, Lowry volunteered for the Army service with the American Expeditionary Forces fighting in France in 1917. He was an Observer/gunner with the 91st Aero Squadron. (Read more about the famed 91st Aero Squadron www.rb-29.net/html/91stSRSHistory/01.01.91sthist.htm  ) On his 33rd mission, both Lowry and the pilot, Asher Kelty, of the 2A2 airplane were shot down and killed near Crepion, France. In his honor Lowry Field located near East 38th Avenue and Dahlia Street in Denver was named in his honor. That location is now Park-Hill Municipal Golf Course. Later in 1937, President Roosevelt authorized funds to relocate Lowry Air Field, later named Lowry Airforce Base, to the location near East 6th Avenue and Quebec Street. Lowry AFB closed October 1, 1994. Read the history at www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/lowry.htm  

Fred Weisbrod Visionary Pueblo General Aviation pilot and former City manager began collecting vintage airplanes at the municipal airport which is on the grounds of the former WW II Pueblo Army Air Base as early as 1972. These efforts later resulted in the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum. Weisbrod was also an early supporter and member of the Sky Corral Club in Pueblo.

Colorado Aviation Heritage Nuggets

Airplane service began on May 31, 1926. According to Richard Lamm and Duane Smith in their book, Pioneers & Politicians, this date is when airplane service was opened linking Denver to Colorado Springs and Pueblo. Two planes landed on that last day of May, the first came in the morning from Cheyenne: “…on the crest of a zipping tailwind, a black-and-silver sky ship swung over Denver…circled in a rapid sweep over Park Hill and skimmed to a perfect landing at the Don Hogan airdrome, East Twenty-sixth Avenue and Oneida Street. The ‘maiden flight’ of Colorado’s own airmail fleet was history.” [Denver Post, May 31, 1926] The second plane landed that same evening, the return flight from Colorado Springs: “It was an epoch-making landing and hardly a person in the gigantic crowd estimated at from ten to forty thousand but realized they were seeing a new page written in Colorado history.” [Rocky Mountain News, June 1, 1926]     

Alexander Aircraft Company built 1,276 airplanes between 1925 and 1932 at their Englewood and later, Colorado Springs aircraft manufacturing locations. During the brief period of 1928 to 1929, Alexander Aircraft Company made Colorado the home of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer. The Alexander Eaglerock biplane is considered one of the first significant certificated aircraft. Read more at www.museumofflight.org/aircraft/alexander-eaglerock

A photo of the 1930 Alexander Eaglerock Model A-14 on display at the Denver International Airport can be enjoyed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Eaglerock

An Eaglerock Longwing is on display at the Wings Over the Rockies museum at the former Lowry Air Force Base http://www.wingsmuseum.org

Colorado Soaring Records listed in several categories, general, feminine, and youth by State. Learn more from the Soaring Society of America on the Soaring Achievement button for US & State Records  http://www.ssa.org

Rapid Air Lines, a small, short-lived carrier which served the Rocky Mountain Region in the 1920s flying Ford Tri-Motor airplanes at Lowry field, according to authors, Flint Whitlock and Terry L. Barnhart in their book, Capt. Jepp and The Little Black Book

Rocky Mountain Airways-RMA Rocky Mountain Airways grew from Vail Airlines which was founded in 1963 by Gordon Autry. Rocky Mountain Airways was headquartered in Hangar No. 6 on Concourse A at Denver Stapleton International. Commuter airline service to Alamosa, Aspen, Colorado Springs, Craig, Eagle, Granby-Val Moritz, Leadville, Pueblo, Steamboat Spring, and Vail-Avon STOLport-Short Take Off Landing now closed. Learn more about Vail-Avon WHR

The July 1, 1973 airline time table announcing the new Granby-Val Moritz Rocky Mountain Airways service is on-line at http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages/jc.htm    

THE RIGHT STUFF - Granby benefactor named to the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame 

 RMA was the launch customer for de Havilland Canada DHC-7, popularly known at the Dash 7 which is a turbo-powered regional airliner with STOL (Short Take Off Landing) capabilities. The first Rocky Mountain Airways Dash 7 was delivered on February 3, 1978. Gordon Autry said the tail number was N24RM and in three years it flew 10,000 hours. Read some more Dash 7 history at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Canada_Dash_7

In later years RMA airline service was expanded to communities in Wyoming, Montana and Utah. When RMA was sold to Texas Air Corporation/Continental Airlines in 1986 it was renamed Continental Express.

Colorado Pilot Tom Bein and early aviation story with photographs submitted by Laura Bein Emerson

Colorado Aviation Pioneer, Lou Clinton, founded one of the best flying schools in the 1940s first at Stapleton Airport and later at Arapahoe County Airport now called Centennial Airport. He was a visionary who promoted female flight instructor, Emily Howell Warner, as his Chief Flight Instructor long before the aviation industry fully recognized women in leadership positions. Here is the link to Lou Clinton's obituary from the Denver Post.

100 fascinating, historic photos of aviation history from several archives. This photo collection includes early airplanes, pilots, airports, air controllers, and important aviation milestones.

Colorado Royal Gorge Airport - According to Robert Henderson, Royal Gorge Airport, built by Frank Singer, was my art studio/gallery in the mid-late 80's. The 1948 Colorado Airport Directory lists Royal Gorge Airport as 6.4 NW of Canon City, 6890' msl, E-W 2800x100 and N-S 1800x100. It is still quite visible from the air. This is at the corner of US 50 and county RD 3-A. Robert Henderson, sculptor, www.warbirdcentral.com .

Interesting early Pueblo Aviation news story sent by CAHPP volunteer, Scott Brownlee, City's first airport was bustling, had major carriers.

In 1918, Laurence La Tourette Driggs, pilot and author was writing about the fictional exploits of Arnold Adair, who fought forest fires from his airplane. Driggs lived in his adopted Colorado home in Unaweep Canyon in western Colorado. Driggs also wrote books documenting the Aces of World War I, to include Fighting the Flying Circus with Captain Edward V. Rickenbacker. Read more about this interesting personality. http://www.gjsentinel.com/special_sections/articles/driggs-man-behind-the-mansion-was-prone-to-flights

No longer in existence, Denver-based "Ports of Call" provided a unique experience for many. Learn more about Colorado aviation history for the Denver-based "Ports of Call" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denver Ports_of_Call  Submitted by Rob Duncan, Laureate in the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame 

Colorado Humanities has awarded a 2010-11 Research award to the Colorado Airport History Preservation Project under the direction of volunteer Dr. Penny Hamilton to begin to inventory the available airport history for Colorado’s 74 existing public use airports and other important airport and aviation history.

"One of my students came across an article that was very helpful to her and some of the other students! The article is "Moving Through the History of Flight: Inventors and Innovators" - http://thepromove.com/moving-through-the-history-of-flight-inverntors-and-innovators.html Joan Wilkinson, After School Care Program Educator"

Join our History Team drpenny.hamilton@gmail.com