Old-Fashioned Fly-In / Drive-In Attracted Many Aircraft and Community People
Havana EAA Chapter 1420 hosted a pancake breakfast event June 27, 2009. Forty aircraft flew in from the surrounding area, including two life-flight helicopters and two crop dusters. Forty Young Eagles rides were given by three local pilots as well as 26 commercial rides. Over 300 breakfasts were served. Flyers from the Timberlake R/C Club gave demonstration flights throughout the event as well as showed off their aircraft static displays. A dedication ceremony was held to formally accept two experimental aircraft donated for a future museum display. Plans are already underway for next year’s fly-in event!
Between 2000 and 2006, the airport was rescued by dedicated volunteers from Petersburg and Havana who had a vision of making it an excellent flying field, a community showcase, and a fun place just to hang out. There is a community center located at the airport with a full kitchen and large-tabled conference room.
In 2006, a modern eight-hanger building with electric doors was completed using local, state, and federal funding. It immediately filled with aircraft. The same year, EAA volunteers finished an interior renovation consisting of a modern conference room and a fully-equipped kitchen.
Plans are also underway to equip the airport with two fuels, 100LL and mogas. Some parts will be volunteer-constructed under the supervision of an airport construction engineering firm. Plans are also underway for a second eight-hanger building.
An Interesting Past
In the 1950’s, what is now the airport grounds had been the National Bureau of Standards’ Long Branch Field Station where acres of antenna arrays were used for planetary radar astronomy employing pulsed transmissions of up to six million watts. This kind of radar astronomy wasn’t exactly an airplane-friendly technology, so the facility was surrounded by a 5nm radius restricted area. In fact, the equipment operated so hot that the main building wasn’t equipped with any kind of heating system. After the experiments were shut down, the land was donated to the city of Havana by the U.S. Government for the explicit use as an airport. It soon became the Havana Regional Airport.
A small FBO grew there in the mid 1980’s with eight to ten aircraft tied down. But after experiencing wind damage a few years later, the airport slowly fell into a state of disarray.
Harvey (Bob) Tapscott and Tom Galassi of nearby Petersburg rediscovered the airport in the early 2000’s. On their own, using their own funds, they began to reclaim the airport from nature. Trees were cut, roofs were patched, runway was groomed, and the buildings renovated inside and out. Soon the Illinois Division of Aeronautics took notice. More volunteers arrived. We received tremendous cooperation from Scott Williams of the Havana Regional Port District and some government funding – – the airport perked right up. Today, Harvey Tapscott is the airport manager and Tom Galassi is the assistant airport manager. And an EAA chapter started to form.
2007 Class B Airport of the Year
In 2007, the Illinois Aviation Division announced the Havana as the 2007 Class B Airport of the Year (for runways less than 4000 feet). We have 2235 feet, but there are no obstructions at either end – corn and beans are our only neighbors.
The renovated facility is now used by community groups including Havana EAA Chapter 1420. More volunteer plans are underway to build a pilot lounge with fireplace and an observation tower overlooking the field.
Havana’s Annual Old-Fashioned Fly-In
Havana EAA Chapter 1420 has held four annual fly-ins so far. We plan to continue holding a fly-in early each summer. Look for the next to be held in June 2010.
We also hold at least one Young Eagles Rally each year. Since Chapter 1420’s beginning only four years ago, we’ve flown over 240 Young Eagles from the surrounding rural community.