The Freedom Valley Chronicles: Patco Airport – Part Two

This airplane – as seen in Sedona, Arizona in 2018 – is the restored Monocoupe airplane that arrived at Patco Airport in Plymouth Township in October of 1932.  Its identification is NC12350.  It was one of many airplanes that flew in and out of the airport that was formerly located on Ridge Pike, between today’s Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Mid-County Expressway (the Blue Route).  Yes, yellow and black were the original colors of this airplane.

This is the same plane – NC12350 – before its delivery to Pennsylvania in 1932.  The site is where the airplane was manufactured – at the headquarters of Monocoupe Corporation located at Lambert Field in Saint Louis, Missouri.  The plane was delivered to Mr. Henry A. (Tony) Little, Jr. who was involved in operations at Patco Airport at that time.

Mr. Little participated in a number of air races from the Patco Airport.  The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in a news article on October 21, 1929, that Mr. Little won two races in his first competition in Gettysburg.  The newspaper indicated that he was 21 years old at the time;  he had dropped out of college at the University of Pennsylvania (Class of 1930) in June of 1928 to take up flying.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, his parents were none too pleased “on their son making aviation his career.”  Nonetheless, both parents were at Patco Airport on October 20, 1929, according to the news article, “to greet his arrival with cheers.”  By September 19, 1932, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Mr. Little had won 54 flying trophies in races throughout the country.

In 1934, members of the Pylon Club – a club composed of pilots and aviation enthusiasts headquartered at Patco Airport – participated in an air meet at the airport.  This photo shows the Monocoupes – a brand of small airplane – lined up for the air meet.  Air races were common sights throughout the Freedom Valley in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  The same airplane as pictured in the first two photographs – the NC12350 Monocoupe – is the fifth plane from the left in this photo.

In 1968, the same airplane delivered to Patco Airport in 1932 – the NC12350 Monocoupe – was at Airman Acres Airport in Collinsville, Oklahoma.  The color scheme of the plane had obviously been changed by this point.

Mr. Charles Lindbergh, pictured above in 1927, came with his wife, Anne, to Patco Airport in 1934.  They came that year to borrow this same airplane – the NC12350 Monocoupe – from Mr. Little. Mr. Lindbergh then flew him and his wife in that plane to Pittsburgh and on to Saint Louis, according to Mr. David Binkley of Sedona, Arizona.

“Mr. Little loaned [his airplane], the NC12350, to Mr. Lindbergh for several flights,” stated Mr. Binkley.  “Mr. Lindbergh became interested in purchasing his own Monocoupe and used NC12350 for his flight to the Monocoupe factory to order his own ship, a specially modified D-145, which now hangs in the St. Louis [Lambert International] Airport.”  Mr. Binkley is the current owner of this airplane that was delivered to Mr. Little at Patco Airport in 1932.

Mr. Lindbergh donated the D-145 Monocoupe airplane he purchased in 1934 to the Missouri History Museum in 1940.  The airplane was placed on display at Saint Louis Lambert International Airport in 1979, but removed when part of the airport went through renovations in 2011.  This airplane was re-hung in the air at Saint Louis Lambert International Airport in 2013.  The photo above shows the airplane before renovations took place at the airport.

In Part Three, we’ll detail further aspects of Patco Airport.

The first four photographs showing airplanes are courtesy of Mr. David Binkley, Sedona, Arizona.  The first photo is dated 2018, the second photo is dated 1932, the third photo is dated 1934, and the fourth photo is dated 1968.

The photograph of Mr. Charles Lindbergh is courtesy of the Library of Congress, 1927.

The photograph of the D-145 Monocoupe at Saint Louis Lambert International Airport is courtesy of Mr. Carmelo Turdo, AeroExperience.Blogspot.Com, 2011.

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© 2018 Richard McDonough