Historical Photo Location Revealed: Airport

The photo depicts the Main Line Airport, which has been replaced by corporate offices.

Last week's historical photo challenge , and many people rightly concluded it was an airport.

However, none of the many commenters had the name correct—the 1940 photo depicts Main Line Airport, despite the word "Paoli" written in huge letters on the hangar roof. The airport was located in the vicinity of Swedesford Road and Valley Creek Parkway, the current site of . 

All that remains from the original photo, and the airport, is the large tree seen in the more recent photo.

Roger Thorne, chair of the Tredyffryin Easttown Historical Society, who supplied the photo, offered this background on the picture, taken in summer of 1940:

From L to R: one of the old wooden “T” hangars; the new modern hangar under construction; the 1953 barn used as a hangar and for storage; the old coachhouse used for, among other things, a classroom for the Main Line Mechanics School; and the old farm house, which served as an airport operations center in the back, and a private residence in the front. [...]

A local consortium called Demorr Aeronautical had just purchased the airport from Curtiss Aircraft Co. of NYC., and immediately set out to build a 100’ x 40’ hangar.

The Ryan SC aircraft shown in the foreground was NC 18909, the second of its class to roll off the assembly line at the Ryan Aeronautical Company in San Diego CA on February 4, 1938. As you may know, Ryan was the builder of Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis.

The following day, a young pilot named Nick Morris, a officer of the Demorr Aeronautical consortium that had purchased the airplane, and another young pilot named Malcolm Ashby (at that time the youngest flight instructor in the Commonwealth), took off from Lindbergh Field for the 2500 mile flight, over 4 days, back to the Main Line Airport. 

Thorne said he tried years ago to get the corporate center to erect a historical sign at the location of the airport, but was not successful.

Hats off to , who had the earliest correct answer (save for the name of the airport):

I had heard that the Paoli Airport was around were the Shops at Great Valley are so somewhere around Swedesford Rd and Valley Stream or Liberty Blvd.

Other commenters indicated that there was a second airport somewhere in the vicinity of modern-day .

Geoeray August 16, 2012 at 11:53 AM
There was another Airport in East Whiteland. It was located between Flat Road and Phoenixville Pike where the former Lee Tire warehouse is.
Geoeray August 16, 2012 at 03:06 PM
A friend told me he thinks the airstrip at Malvern Prep was used for the U.S. Mail. Planes would pick up a mailbag without landing. His Uncle was the "bagboy there for several summers".
Mike M August 30, 2012 at 11:12 AM
There was an airstrip located in present day Willistown acres. The runway was Harvey lane. I live here and a neighbor used to attend Malvern prep and take flying lessons on this airport or more like just a landing strip
Mike M August 30, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Sorry the runway was Andrews road.


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