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ERNEST HERMAN BUEHL
Ernest H. Buehl was a well-known pilot from the Philadelphia, PA area. He touched down once at Willow Grove, on Thursday, November 5, 1931. He arrived from Somerton, PA in a Fairchild FC-22 he identified as NC10799. He left no indication of his destination, or whether he carried passengers.
In 1928 he founded the airfield at Somerton and it was called Buehl Field or Flying Dutchman Field. There is a Web site for Buehl Field at the link. The portrait, left, is abridged from that link.
His Fairchild, NC10799, is below as pictured at the Abandoned Airfields Web site at the link. Just scroll a quarter of the way down the page to see it. The people are unidentified, but the year is estimated as1934 and the location is Flying Dutchman Field.
Buehl was born April 30, 1897 in Neustadt, Germany. He emigrated from Germany arriving in the U.S. from Hamburg on May 14, 1920. He was processed through Ellis Island according to the immigration procedures in effect at the time.
After a few years, his Declaration of Intention for citizenship was dated March 21, 1925, right. Note that he had arrived at Ellis Island aboard the S.S. Mongolia. His occupation was cited as an "aeroplane mechanic." He had learned to fly in 1918 in Germany.
When he first immigrated, he lived on Long Island and worked as a topographic mapper, piloting airplanes with cameras mounted and taking pictures of the ground from 16,000 feet. He moved to Philadelphia in 1924.
A marriage certificate available at ancestry.com indicates that he was married in 1924 at Philadelphia. The Declaration of Intention, which was dated and sworn on March 21, 1925, states the name of his wife as Anna Manso, a citizen of Portugal. In other records I discovered she was born August 8, 1900 and died December 24, 1989. She and Buehl remained married until their deaths. Compare Buehl's signatures on this and the next document and compare them to the one in the Pitcairn Field Register.
At some point Buehl and his wife had a son, Ernest H. Buehl, Jr. If you know the date of his birth, please let me KNOW. There is record of Buehl Jr.'s service in the U.S. Marines during the 1950s, and of his work in managing the airfields created by his father. I have record of his marriage on July 23, 1960. Other than Buehl the elder's airfield activities, I have no information about his social life or what he did for fun, or about additional flying activities. If you can help fill in the blanks, please let me KNOW.
Buehl had applied for U.S. citizenship in 1925 (Declaration, above). Among the records I researched was his Petition for Naturalization dated September 26, 1928. He was finally granted citizenship January 22, 1929 just about nine years after arriving in the U.S. His Naturalization Record is at right.
About a year after he was naturalized, he traveled to Europe and returned to the U.S. on the S.S. Bremen, April 23, 1930. He was alone, traveling as tourist, third-class, with a U.S. passport. I do not know the purpose of his travel at that time.
From 1928-1952 Buehl operated his airport at Somerton. He did not own the property, rather he rented. His Somerton airport would serve the public for near a quarter century. It closed in 1952. A chronology of the Somerton "Flying Dutchman Field" is at the link.
In 1948 he bought a 136-acre property in nearby Bensalem, PA and developed it as a second airfield and operated it as Flying Dutchman Air Service. He sold the property to a real estate developer in 1962.
He next bought a parcel in Bucks County, PA near Langhorne to develop, circa 1967, into a third airfield. In 1968, after vigorous petitioning, he was granted approval to maintain his airport if he constructed an industrial park on the premises. His property was 111 acres.The expectation was that the industrial park would occupy 60 of those acres. In 1969 the industrial park was opened with Buehl as president of the enterprise.
Local Pennsylvania newspapers during the mid-late 1960s, right, documented the struggles between Buehl and the county government to keep his airfields in operation. Because of continuous residential encroachment, many small airports of the day were being criticized for noise pollution, and were being coveted by real estate developers for more housing.
From a news article dated March 5, 1971, Buehl and his wife Anna purchased 128 acres in Bucks County for an undisclosed reason. From this point on, the newspapers indicate that Buehl and his wife became real estate investors in their own right, as well as supporters of aviation. An August, 1972 news photo shows the couple sitting on a bench next to an expansive pond, lawn and flower gardens in front of their home. This was a spacious property, which probably couldn't be supported on an aviator's income. Alas, according to Google Earth, the location of their home is now a shopping center itself.
The Langhorne version of Buehl Field remained in operation until circa 1998-99. The Buehl family had aged and were no longer willing or capable of operating an airfield. The property was sold to a senior citizen housing company. By 2002 the property was covered with homes and, like many old airfields, no trace of it remains.
So, we have in Ernest Buehl a German immigrant who fit easily into American society, who worked hard and smart, and contributed along the way to the steady improvement of civil and commercial aviation in the U.S. He developed and operated three different airfields for a total of about 70 years. He and his wife were productive citizens of eastern Pennsylvania. News articles cite their philanthropic works, and the opportunities they afforded their son through schooling, military service and the family business. By all accounts he supported himself and his family quite well from aviation and real estate. He gave as much as he got during his life in the United States. He died May 23, 1990, age 93. Compare his life with that of fellow immigrant and Register pilot Max Rappaport.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 10/09/15 REVISED: 02/24/16