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WINGS AIRPORT, BLUE BELL, PA

The airport was established in 1930 and is about thirteen miles northwest of downtown Philadelphia. Register pilot John B. Bartow was instrumental in the founding of Wings Airport. A brief history is at this link describing the Wings Corporation, Philadelphia, PA. Three pilots who landed at Pitcairn Field identified Wings Airport or Blue Bell as their home base. Seven arrived at Pitcairn Field from Blue Bell. Nine pilots identified Blue Bell as their destination.

In 1932, Wings Airport became the location for the Philadelphia Aviation Country Club. The Club served as a place for pilots and flight enthusiasts to socialize, much like country clubs for golfing or boating.

Early aerial images of Wings Airport are below. Several views of Wings Airport from the 1930s are exhibited at the Hagley Digital Archives at the link. The first was dated September 23, 1933 and shows just the main buildings and hangars. Note "Wings" painted on the hangar roofs. In the original photograph at the link, with magnification you can see what appears to be a glider sitting by itself at center left, with a person standing on the port side of the cockpit. A couple of people are walking in front of the glider. A biplane (tow plane?) sits to the glider's 2:00. Another biplane is partially visible behind the hangar building with the circle on top. What looks like a model A Ford coupé automobile is parked on the far side of the right-hand hangar building. A tractor is visible at lower left, and the areas around the building look like they were freshly worked by the tractor. The rectangular object off to the right of the main house appears to be a full swimming pool with a diving board!

Wings Airport, Blue Bell, PA, September 23, 1933 (Source: Link)
Wings Airport, Blue Bell, PA, September 23, 1933 (Source: Link)

The second photograph, below, was dated October 10, 1934, below. Compare this photo to the identical one printed in the 1938 reference exhibited just below. The view is to the north northwest. Note the landing circle mid-field. The area where the tractor was parked above appears to be sodded over and serving as a parking ramp for the aircraft in the photo below. These two photos were taken by Dallin Aerial Surveys, Inc., as were many of the others at the Hagley link.

Wings Airport, Blue Bell, PA, October 12, 1934 (Source: Link)
Wings Airport, Blue Bell, PA, October 12, 1934 (Source: Link)

A description of Wings dated 1937 from this REFERENCE, page 173, is below.

Wings Airport Description, 1937 (Source: Link)
Wings Airport Description, 1937 (Source: Link)

An aerial photograph of Wings from 1938 is below, from this REFERENCE, page 248. The triangular area to the southwest is labeled "gully," which is captured in the description as "slight slope to SW." Notice the aircraft aligned along the periphery of the field in the SW corner. There might have been a fly-in event the day this photograph was snapped. North is to the top of this photo.

Wings Airport, 1938 (Source: Link)
Wings Airport, 1938 (Source: Link)

 

Wings Airport, June 14, 2004 (Source: Web)
Wings Airport, June 14, 2004 (Source: Web)

 

Today, Wings Airport is located where it was created in 1930, a rare occurrence among today's small airfields. Wings, right, is a general aviation airport in Blue Bell, in Whitpain Township in Montgomery County, PA. It serves the western Philadelphia suburbs. It offers fuel, hangars, major airframe and powerplant maintenance, and oxygen service. North is to the left in this photo. Another photograph from 1999 is at the Hagley link, above. The swimming pool was still there in 1999!

If you read up on Bartow at the link above, you'll understand that one thing Bartow would enjoy seeing today is that his airport has two instrument approaches, both of which have been modernized to GPS technology. Aeronautical specifications for the airport are at the link. The official FAA description, and accompanying VFR flight chart, for Wings Field is at the link.

 

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 11/28/16 REVISED: 12/06/16