Sunday, October 10, 2021

When Sunbury Had An Airport

The Airport On The Island
(71N) Sunbury Airport

In 1918, when the first air mail route between New York and Washington DC was established (with a stop in Philadelphia) lighted runways were rare, and safety was a concern.  For that reason, planes would deliver the mail to train stations, and the packages would continue on their way at night by train.
For the  transcontinental route, pilots considered the area between Sunbury and Bellefonte the least desirable and nicknamed it “Hell’s stretch.”
A Plane Wreck On the Island, early 1900s

In 1920, low clouds and fog forced air-mail pilot E.M. Allison to land in a farmer’s field on the Susquehanna River island. When Allison talked to the farm owner, he found  that another air-mail pilot had landed in the same field, for the same reason, a few weeks earlier. 
Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Department of Commerce designated the island an official emergency stop for aircraft and established a charted airfield on the farm.
Its location was ideal because it was midway between several stops.

Giant Military Exhibition held at Sunbury Airport October 16 1938
Hoovers Fall Furniture Fair provided vintage airplane rides for residents from Northumberland County at the Sunbury Airport.

On display in the Eagles Mere Auto Museum

In September of 1929, Amelia Earhart was flying from Mitchell Airfield in New York, to Kansas City Missouri with her mother, when a storm forced her to land in Sunbury Pa, at the Aero Club. She rested at the city hotel (Edison Hotel) in Sunbury, before continuing on her way. Read more about Earharts stops in our valley here:

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