CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

CENTRAL AIRPORT
& the Airport Circle
OK... so it WAS in Pennsauken...... Inquiring Minds Wanted To Know
(.....and we all can't be so lucky as to be in Camden NJ) 

If you or I had a nickel for every time someone said or thought "but where's the airport?" while traveling to or from Philadelphia, one of us would certainly have a boxcar or three worth of nickels! Yes Virginia, there once was an airport there... the main airport serving the Delaware Valley, as a matter of fact! 

The question of having a commercial airport in Camden arose in the 1920s. With the main postal facility in the area being at 9th and Market in Philadelphia, and the desirability of being close to Center City Philadelphia and the booming City of Camden quite evident, the question then became where an airport could be located that would be safe for takeoff and landing, as well as being reasonably accessible to the travelers arriving and departing by air. It was determined that the Pennsauken township location that became Central Airport filled the bill perfectly.

Philadelphia built a facility in the south of the city, but it failed to be a commercial success due to the distance from the city's downtown as well as being far from any other travel connections. Camden, being close to heart of Philadelphia not only by ferry, but by the massive new suspension bridge then under construction, next  attracted the attention of developers intent on developing a facility to take advantage of the new technology.

Initial locations proposed included the Harrison Avenue garbage dump along the Delaware River in Cramer Hill, and what was then called the Moro Phillips tract, named after the famous 19th-century industrialist who had owned it, bounded by the north bank of the Cooper River, River Road, and State Street. Both of these sites were deemed unsafe due to the presence of smoke stacks from nearby factories and industrial sites. One must visualize in the context of the early 1920s... the planes were smaller and flew at lower altitudes than today, and those factories were burning coal..... they called them smokestacks for a reason.

A solution presented itself with the building of the Delaware River Bridge, and the construction of a new highway along the north bank of the Cooper River from the Federal Street Bridge to Pennsauken, where it would link to what was then known as State Highway 25, Crescent Boulevard, the Marlton Pike, and Kaighn Avenue. This highway enabled residents of the relatively new suburban towns along the White Horse Pike to drive straight into Philadelphia while avoiding traffic in Camden, and began the development of the previously underdeveloped Delaware Township. A new invention, the traffic circle, was set up at the intersection of Crescent Boulevard, Kaighn Avenue, a short connecting road to the previously existing Marlton Pike, and the new road, which in time became known as The Admiral Wilson Boulevard, in honor of Camden native son and World War I hero Henry Braid Wilson Jr.

A piece of undeveloped ground along the north bank of the Cooper River, east of Crescent Boulevard and South of Marlton Pike, attracted the interest of those desiring an airport's construction. Joseph H. Fisher had once operated a farm on this land. Level ground, close to everything by the other great new invention of the time, the automobile, and with nary a smokestack close to the site... in fact, there were few three story buildings within a 1.5 mile radius.... the site was chosen for the next jewel to Camden's crown... the Central Airport. Needless to say, the new traffic circle quickly became known as the Airport Circle.

Once opened for operations in September of 1929, Central Airport would be the prime air connection between the Philadelphia metropolitan area and the world for about twelve years. However, by 1938 the end was in sight. The development of larger airplanes such as the Douglas DC-3 meant the need for takeoff and landing strips longer than those at Central Airport, and the construction of the much larger Philadelphia International Airport doomed the field. Once the Philadelphia Airport opened in June of 1940, the four airlines then serving Philadelphia through Central Airport (American, Eastern, TWA, and United) left the Pennsauken facility behind, terminating their operations at the then obsolete field.

In it's heyday, Central Airport saw the comings and goings of the famous, and in some cases the would-be notorious. Airmail would arrive at Central Airport, and be transported by autogyro, a precursor of the modern helicopter, to the roof of the United States Postal Office at 9th and Market Streets in Philadelphia. In the 1940s, Central Airport served as a training facility for naval and marine aviators, who learned takeoff and landing skills in yellow Stearman N2S-3 bi-planes. In an early attempt to legalize gambling in New Jersey, a dog track operated nearby in 1934, a swimming pool operated several years, and there was an outdoor arena that featured professional and amateur boxing matches in the mid- and late-1930s. 

Most notable among the businesses that appeared around the airport were two nightclubs which are well remembered long after they were gone. Weber's hof Brau was located on the northbound side of Crescent Boulevard adjacent to the airport. With food, dancing, and entertainment, Weber's hof Brau was a popular nightspot until it was destroyed by fire in 1951. On the opposite side of the Airport Circle was Camden native son Neil Deighan's spot. Simply called Neil Deighan's, the club was briefly known as Cub Shaguire before being renamed The Pub, under which name it has operated under since the early 1950s. The Airport also lent its name to the Airport Pontiac car dealership, and the Airport Rug and Carpet Company.

After World War II, usage of the airport declined to the point where it was no longer viable. Camden Central Airport was still depicted as an active airfield on the 1955 Washington Sectional Chart, which described it as having three runways, with the longest being a 2,800' asphalt strip. However, the field was apparently on its last legs, as it was described as "unattended". Camden Central Airport was apparently closed at some point between 1955-57, as it was not depicted at all on the July 1957 NY Sectional Chart, and it was labeled "Abandoned Airport" on the 1961 Philadelphia Local Aeronautical Chart. The property was sold, and was redeveloped as an industrial park. Roads running through the park such as Central Highway and Airport Highway, give clue to its heritage.   

More About Central Airport
Paul Freeman's Abandoned and Little Known Airfields

1925
Delaware River Bridge Construction
&
North Camden

The circled area is the Harrison Avenue garbage dump. In 1925 the site was considered as a location for an airport to serve Camden and Philadelphia. The site has remained undeveloped and in need of environmental cleanup. In the fall of 2003 plans were announced for a cleanup and conversion of the site for use as a golf course.

Camden
Courier-Post

September 12, 1929

Central Airport & the Airport Circle
circa 1929
courtesy N.J. Department of Transportation 
(formerly the N.J. State Highway Department)

click on image to enlarge

Central Airport - 1929
Photos courtesy of Warren Fairess
from the collection of his mother, Marie Fisbeck Fairess
Woodrow Fairess at Central Airport, 1929

Click on Images to Enlarge

A 1931 article describing Central Airport
from

CAMDEN COUNTY 1681-1931 250th Anniversary Book


TRANSPORTATION

___________________________________________________________________________________14

ping here daily, the airport has installed the finest and most modern of equipment. Its hangers will shelter forty airplanes. an expert mechanical crew is in attendance. A million candlepower floodlight brightens the field for night landings. Other floods light up the buildings to prevent accidents. A white revolving beacon and a green flashing beacon on a fifty foot tower tell the night-flying pilot where he is on the runway. Field attendants are on duty twenty-four hours.

For the transport lines, a chief dispatcher, employed by the airport, announces the arriving craft, herds the right passengers to the door, collects the tickets and signals the pilot to pull away. The chief dispatcher handles today fifty-five daily scheduled ships,

The airport is also developing industrially as is evidenced by the plant of the Jacobs Aircraft Engine Company recently located on the northern extremity of the field.


Picture Published
1931
Central Airport

Roads at bottom of picture are Admiral Wilson Blvd. & Kaighn Avenue. Route 130 bisects the picture horizontally, Marlton Pike (Route 70) runs from upper left of picture to the top. Collingswood houses are visible upper right, next to nothing built yet in Cherry Hill

Click on Image to Enlarge 

Picture Published
1931
Central Airport
during Airshow

"Note the ample parking and hard surface roadways"

Haddon avenue visible running across top of photo

Click on Image to Enlarge 

CENTRAL AIRPORT
1929 or 1930

Airport at top of picture; 
Admiral Wilson Boulevard; 
with very few buildings, and Farnham Park are on left.
Camden High School and  Park Boulevard on right.
Very few homes had been built on Park Boulevard at this time.

Click on Image
to Enlarge 
 

In the DIstance
CENTRAL AIRPORT

1929 or 1930

In foreground, the original (1926- 1953) Camden Convention Hall. Mechling Brothers factory, now the site of Campbell Soup  corpor- ate headquarters in center of photo. A still developing Parkside is to the upper right, Central Airport at top of picture, in the distance. 

Click on Image to Enlarge 

Camden
Courier-Post

May 31, 1930

CENTRAL AIRPORT - 1930s

Camden Courier-Post - October 21, 1931

WILEY POST VISITOR AT CENTRAL AIRPORT

Wiley Post, who, with Harold Gatty, holds the round-the-world speed record, was a brief visitor to Camden yesterday when the E. A. T. plane in which he was a passenger stopped for ten minutes at Central Airport.

The famous flyer, en route to St. Louis from New York, landed at 11:28 a. m. with other passengers in the huge biplane. He greeted officials of the field and made He greeted officials of the field and made a brief inspection of the airport before taking off again

The November 5, 1931 plane crash at Central Airport

Camden Courier-Post - June 1, 1932
Frankie Richardson - WCAM

Camden Courier-Post
June 1, 1932

Benjamin Horwitz
Langham Avenue
Fred Romano
York Street

Camden Courier-Post - June 3, 1932

Camden Courier-Post
June 3, 1932

Ray Dilks

Frenchie Lehman
Marie Tribbett
Betty Carson
George Walton

Dance Marathon

Camden Courier-Post - June 3, 1932

Camden Courier-Post * June 4, 1932

Charley Humes - L. Scott Cherchesky - Francis Murtha
Stanley Sover -
John V. Wilkie

Camden Courier-Post - June 6, 1932

Camden Courier-Post
June 6, 1932

Fred Mitchell
Billie McGreevy
Mac McGreevy
Phil Stein

Camden Courier-Post
June 7, 1932

Dominic Sorrentino
William Miller
Harry Evans
Billie McGreevy
Mac McGreevy

 

Camden Courier-Post
June 7, 1932

 

Jack Capo - Fred Holdsworth - Julia Austin - William Miller - Marie Tribbet
Harry Evans - Fred Mitchell - Billie McGreevy - Mac McGreevy

Camden Courier-Post - June 8, 1932

 

 

 

 

Camden Courier-Post
June 9, 1932

Ray Dilks - Ethel Papp
William Miller - Johnny Hartman
Archie Gayer
Katherine McDowell - Curly Holmes
Harry Shubert - Katherine Riley
Marie Tribbet

 

 

 

Camden Courier-Post * June 9, 1932

 

 

Camden Courier-Post * June 10, 1932

Ray Dilks -  Carman Street
Ethel Papp -
Pierce Avenue

 

 

Camden Courier-Post * June 10, 1932

Camden Courier-Post * June 11, 1932

Camden Courier-Post
Jun3 13, 1932

Ethel Papp - Ray Dilks
William Miller -
Central Airport
Dance Marathon
George Arnold - Mary Kerr
Jimmy Gallagher - Helen Stevens
Curly Evans - Curly Holmes
Frenchy Lehman - Johnny Hartman
Phil Stein - Anna May Bohn
BillyMcGreevy - Mac McGreevy
Anna Nightingale - John Hackett
Frank Wagner - Nora Risley
Myrtle Cloud - Watrren Jefford
Julia Austin - Harry Evans

Curtiss Condor Plane
Eastern Air Transport Service
Central Airport, Camden N.J.

"The plane that Charles Wiley came home in Wed. evening, Nov 23/32"

CENTRAL AIRPORT - 1933

CENTRAL AIRPORT

1930s Landing Beacon

Would anyone know if this Beacon is what the nearby Beacon Avenue in Pennsauken and Camden is named for? 

Delivering Mail
by
Autogyro

 

Camden Courier-Post - February 1, 1933

LUDINGTON LINES SALE IS RUMORED
Planes Using Central Airport May Be Taken Over by Eastern Air Transport

  Sale of Ludington Air Lines, operating between New York and Washington with a landing field here at Central Airport, appeared certain yesterday with Eastern Air Transport as the prospective purchaser.

James M. Eaton, president of the Ludington lines, announced at Washington yesterday that an offer for purchase of the lines has been made by the E.A.T., but that negotiations had not been completed and "no further official statement can be made at this time.

His announcement followed a report yesterday by Dow, Jones & Company, of New York, that it is understood negotiations had been completed for acquisition of the lines, and that the purchase price was approximately $250,000.

C. Townsend Ludington and Nicholas Ludington, who founded the company, could not be located last night at their homes in Ardmore Pa., to learn the possible sale would in any way involve Central Airport, which is owned by the Central Airport, Inc., a separate concern from Ludington Air Lines. It was stated at the home of both that they were in New York.

A news report from New York which also preceded the Eaton statement asserted that a merger of the North American Aviation Company, owners of Eastern Air Transport, and the General Aviation Corporation, was to be announced within a few days, and that the merged companies planned to purchase the Ludington Air Lines. “In accepting a job with Ludington Air Lines it was my responsibility to protect the private investment of Ludington stockholders," Eaton said. "There were two ways of doing this. One was to obtain a mail contract from the present administration; the other to get the company on an efficient basis and to continue operation on the basis of getting mail from the incoming administration. "However, if, due to improved conditions, an offer of purchase or merging presented itself, then that offered a third way of protecting the stockholders."  

The Ludington Air Lines started operations in September, 1930. The main offices were moved from Philadelphia to Washington last September.  

Camden Courier-Post - February 7, 1933

POLISH AIR HERO TO VISIT FACTORIES IN CAMDEN

A tour of Camden's leading industrial plants following a reception at Central Airport has been arranged for Stanley F. Hausner, the "Flying Pole" of Newark, when he is the guest of this city Thursday.

Hausner, who was rescued 550 miles off the coast of Portugal after being missing for more than a week on his solo hop from New York to Warsaw, will arrive at the airport at 10:15 AM. There he will be greeted by Mayor Roy R. Stewart, who will deliver the welcome address. The mayor will escort Hausner to the City Hall where, from the mayor's office, the aviator will get a glimpse of Camden "from the air."

Hausner is to address the Camden County Real Estate Board as a guest of the United Polish Organizations here. here. The real estate board has extended invitations to all other local service clubs to attend the luncheon.

After the luncheon, Hausner will visit the RCA- Victor, the New York Shipbuilding Company and other plants. The Polish organizations will hold a. mass meeting at 8:00 PM at Parrish Hall, Tenth and Liberty Streets, at which Hausner will speak.

His visit here is part of a program to raise funds for another attempted flight to Warsaw.

Camden Courier-Post - June 4, 1933

First Lady Here on Air Tour

First Lady- 'Just a Passenger'
As She Starts Flight to Coast
 
Steps Up to Window With Others
and Gets Yard Long Ticket and
Insists She Must Make Record-Breaking Trip
 

Washington, June 4.-"A ticket to Los Angeles, please."

Mrs. Roosevelt took her place at the airport ticket window this morning in a line of 10 persons.

“How do you wish to go?" the young man asked.

"It doesn't very much matter, but I must be in Dallas tomorrow morning and Tucson tomorrow afternoon," she replied. He handed her a yard-long ticket.

A large bi-motored plane was ferried up to the landing platform. Assorted passengers scrambled for choice seats. She stood outside to say good-bye

to a few friends who had gathered. It was just then airport officials and attendants recognized their passenger and there was a general round of introductions. 

“'Can you tell us anything definite of your itinerary?" she was asked. 

"Sorry, just can't, except I am due to be in Dallas Monday morning and I will be there. I do not know when night flying will begin, but I rather think I shall enjoy it. Read and sleep and enjoy the scenery. But I must have breakfast in Dallas Monday, because I shall be very hungry by then. I will be in Tucson Monday afternoon and spend the night there with my old friend, Mrs. Greenway. From there I will go to Los Angeles to visit with my son, Elliott. I expect to be there the most of two days and leave in time to be in New York Friday. The re­turn trip will be at top speed. I will fly day and night and make no stops except to change planes."

Two pilots were at the controls. One of them stepped out, to speak to her and assure her the plane was in excellent condition.

"I know it is” she replied. “Where shall we go first?”

"Camden, N. J., and then you get another plane and start west."

Mrs. Roosevelt waved goodbye. The weather was perfect for flying as the plane took off on its flight such as even the daring first lady had never before attempted. 

Camden Courier-Post - June 6, 1933

Petters' 'Safety Zone' Cheats Cops of Fines

Private Park-and-Lark Land Thrown Open to Moonlight Snugglers by Airport Neighbor Peeved at Police Trap

By J. G. CRATE 

A petters' paradise where po­lice are forbidden to tread!

This is the haven established by Lewis B. Simon, of Delaware Township.

Matching the glamor of last night's moon with bright gold letters, Simon set up a large sign inviting sweet young persons and their escorts to park on his property anytime they wish to watch airplanes at the adjoining Central Airport.

As he made the last emphatic tap of his hammer, Simon said he didn't care whether parkers ever saw any airplanes land or leave the field,

The sign, extending six feet above ground on two stout posts, is inscribed in a fashion that needs no explanation: 

LOVERS MAY PARK
BEYOND THIS SIGN
at your own risk
POLICE MUST
KEEP OUT
PRIVATE PROPERTY

               -Lewis B. Simon.

Stings Cops

The broad invitation to spoon­ers was prompted, Simon said, by his "utter disgust" of frequent raids by Pennsauken po­lice upon couples who have been trapped as they sought solace in whatever impulses the moon may influence.

"I'm fed up with police mean­dering around my property and hauling people into court just because they want to do a little spooning," Simon said. "There's no criminal offense in loving, as far as I can conceive.”

"The cops would better earn their pay if they spent their time scouting for robbers."

Simon notified Delaware Town­ship of his plan to post the sign and said they agreed to respect his wishes in the matter. The sign is off the Cooper River Parkway, one-half mile east of the Browning road intersection, and a short distance from the clubhouse of the Cooper River Parkway Country Club. The property is in Delaware Township and borders Pennsauken town­ship.

Two lines of large letters, at the top of the sign, invite lovers to park. The third line, reading, “at your own risk," Simon explained, is to relieve him of re­sponsibility in the event any parker should suffer injury while on the grounds. There is danger of- for example, say mosquitos- or perhaps a dainty ankle may turn. Who knows? Simon asked. 


Camden Courier-Post - June 7, 1933

Petters' Paradise In Grand Premiere; 75 Cars on Hand
Spooners Quick to Accept Offer of Police-Proof Refuge

Lewis B. Simon's petters' paradise opened for business last night and with a rush.

In fact the tract behind that now famous sign on Cooper River Parkway was too crowded for many who visited the spot to watch the planes come in at nearby Central Airport.

Cars rolled in, and cars rolled out, and nary a policeman to bother them.

All in all, about 75 machines visited the new "neckers nook" which Simon established Monday "because police were horsing young people from place to place" and Simon was afraid they would end up in "dives."

"If a cop can't tell private property from public roads, then I'll help 'em out," Simon said as he erected a huge sign inviting the spooners but denying police the right to enter.

And apparently the "help" was heeded because no cops showed up at Petter's Paradise last night.


Camden Courier-Post - June 7, 1933

EDITORIAL

A CHAMPION FOR CUPID

Emerson was wrong. All the world does NOT love a lover.

Among the exceptions, it appears, have been the Pennsauken police. Central Airport has been something of a Mecca for wooers and wooed these days. Combined with the lure of watching the moon, has been the interest in seeing the planes arrive and depart.

All the while, the night has tucked the lovers in, their motor cars in blankets of kindly obscurity, only their eyes, as Browning said, "staring, winking at the skies."

But even those staring and winkings were observed by the keenly observant cops of Pennsauken. Petters' were told to "move on." In some cases, it seems, luckless lovers were hauled into court and fined.

Imagine their chagrin today as they face that sign:

"Lovers May Park-Beyond This Sign!-­(at your own risk)-Police Must Keep Out: Private Property!"

Lewis Simon, a veritable emissary of Cupid himself, has erected it on his farmland near the airport-land which is in Delaware Township, just across the line from Pennsauken Township.

One can hear the petters murmur-"What a man!"

One pictures them, grateful, as they gaze at the moon and pet unmolested by unsympathetic minions of the law.

One can fancy happy couples, strangers out for a drive, startled and delighted by this billboard invitation to a petters paradise!

And who would be so cynical as to call attention to the smallest letters on the sign-

"At your own risk!" 


Camden Courier-Post - June 9, 1933

'Overflow' Petters Rounded Up by Pennsauken Cops

While scores of young lovers "watched the planes come in" at Lewis B. Simon's "petters paradise" in Delaware Township without molestation from police last night, it was a different story in Pennsauken Township. 

Recorder George E. Yost fined Walter Bush, 34, of 539 Penn Street, $5 and costs for "petting" near the airport. Arthur E. Pine, 27, of 1376 Chesapeake road, owner of the car in which Bush and his companion were parked, received a suspended sentence. Joseph M. Mealey, 22, of 1421 North Sixth Street, forfeited $10 security when he failed to appear for a hearing on a "petting" charge. All were arrested by Inspector Thomas Thorpe, of Pennsauken police.


Camden Courier-Post - June 10, 1933

Mrs. Roosevelt in Camden, Denies Son Has No. 2 Picked 
First Lady, Changing Planes Here, Says All Kinds of Reports About Elliott May Now Be Expected

Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a visitor for a second time yesterday at Central Airport, on her return plane trip to Washington after visiting her son, Elliott, on the west coast. 

The nation's first lady successfully parried questions concerning rumors that her son contemplated marrying again after he is divorced by his wife at Reno. 

"They're still married, you know," was her answer. 

The plane which bore Mrs. Roosevelt here arrived at 11.53 a.m. and took off four minutes later. Surrounded by newspaper women, Mrs. Roosevelt chatted of everyday happenings and then hurriedly joined other passengers as the signal "all­aboard" was given. I have enjoyed my trip immensely," she said laughing as she pressed a handkerchief to perspiring brow. "I should much rather be up there, it is so much cooler than on the ground."

Other passengers on the plane brushed shoulders with Mrs. Roosevelt at the airport waiting station as though they were unaware that she was the First Lady. 

Mrs. Roosevelt, after her usual fashion, was dressed plainly. She wore a blue dress, low-heeled shoes and carried a small brown leather bag to which she clung tightly as though It -were In danger of slipping from her grasp. 

Mrs. Roosevelt flew from Camden to Newark, where she was again questioned. 
Asked about the possibility of an announced romance after the divorce Mrs. Roosevelt commented "Well, the Lord knows. These youngsters nowadays- they get engaged 15 or 20 times, and it doesn't mean a thing. Elliott posed for pictures with some movie actress- I don't remember what her name is- and immediately the newspapers had him engaged." 
Asked specifically if Elliott plans to marry Ruth Goggins. 25-year-old brunette of Forth Worth, Texas, the President's wife said: 

"I suppose that at a time like this there would be reports that he was going to marry 10 different people." Mrs. Roosevelt told of the lack of harmony which brought the rift between, Elliott and his wife. 

"They were absolutely incompatible. They were incompatible from the start. I could have told them that before they were married, but you know how children are. But there is no hard feeling between them. In fact, Elizabeth is coming up to our camp this Summer.

"They will reach an agreement on the disposition of the grandchild, of course. The child is our grandchild."


Camden Courier-Post - June 14, 1933

MRS. ROOSEVELT HERE

Traveling virtually incognito, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, wife of the President, was a Camden guest for five minutes yesterday- unknown to the public and employees of Central Airport. 

A passenger in a Curtiss Condor of the Eastern Air Line, Mrs. Roosevelt landed at 10.30 a. m. She remained in the cabin until the ship took off again for Washington. 

Neither newspapermen nor photographers knew of her arrival because of the shroud of secrecy adopted by officials of the Eastern Air Line concerning her travels. Few employees at the airport were aware of it until an hour or so later when the news leaked out. 

Mrs. Roosevelt had left Newark Airport at 9.48 a.m. 


Curtiss Condor


Eastern
Airlines
Mail
Carrier


American
Airlines
Passenger
Plane

   

Camden Courier-Post - June 16, 1933

NEW AIR LINE STARTED

A new air line schedule between New York and Chicago which calls for regular stops at Central Airport was started by the Transcontinental Western Airways yesterday.

The first plane operating on the new schedule left New York at 1.01 p. m. and landed at Camden at 1.45. Mayor J. Hampton Moore of Philadelphia dedicated the new line as the plane arrived here.

The ship left Camden at 1.50 and will make one other stop at Pittsburgh before reaching the Windy City at 7 p. m. The planes used on the new schedule are all tri-motored Fords. Only one plane will run on the schedule but officials of the T. W. A. announced that several will be added in a week. 

Planes flying between New York and Chicago heretofore discharged their passengers at Columbus, Ohio, where they changed to another line. 


Camden Courier-Post - June 17, 1933

Voices of the air materialized into voices at first hand for many persons Saturday, when five radio stars come to Camden as a feature of the closing chapter of '''Co-operation Days." The group, guests of the Sears, Roebuck Store, are seen assembled here on the steps of the courthouse just prior to their official welcome by Mayor Roy R. Stewart. Left to right, 
back row: Edward Callow, district manager Stanley­Warner theatres; Charles Gates, local manager Sears, Roebuck Co. Middle row, Martin A. Gosh, Harry A. Moran, chairman Merchants' "Co-operation Days" committee; Louise Zenike, N. B. C. star; Mary A. Dickinson, Sears, Roebuck Co.; Donald Novis, Welcome Lewis, Nancy Garner and Conrad 
Thibault, all radio stars. 

Stage and Radio Send Stars To Aid Camden Stores Jubilee 
Noted Entertainers Are Given Welcome by Mayor as Event Closes 
CO-OPERATION DAYS

The "Co-operation Days" jubilee of the combined merchants of Camden ended Saturday with a visit to this city by stage and radio stars as guests of Sears, Roebuck and Company and the city.

The group of celebrities included Welcome Lewis, Nancy Garner, and her daughter, Louise Zenike; Donald Novis and Conrad Thibault. Nancy Garner is a first cousin of Vice President Garner, one of his official hostesses and is now beginning a nationwide tour in interest of the "new deal" policy. 

The group was met at Broad Street station where they arrived in a special car with Martin A. Gosh, of the Sears publicity department, as host. They were escorted to Camden City Hall and welcomed by Mayor Roy R. Stewart

The merchants' committee presented a large flag to the city, which was received by Mayor Stewart. The visiting stars were then guests at a luncheon in the Walt Whitman Hotel. In an address at the luncheon, Mayor Stewart lauded Camden as the "Centre of the Universe" and praised the Courier-Post Newspapers for the part they have played in trying to restore normal prosperity. He thanked all interests for their contribution toward the success of the "Co-operation Days" sales events arranged by the city's stores. He gave special praise to Sears, Roebuck and Company for its co-operation with the city and its merchants. 

Response to Mayor Stewart's address was made by Howard Thurston, district manager of the Sears stores; Charles Gates, manager of the local store, and Gosh, all or whom assured co-operation of the store in any civic enterprise. 

The dinner guests, included the radio stars and Mayor Stewart, D. Minard Shaw, district advertising manager of Sears; Thurston Gates, A. Gosh, R. J. Mitchell, assistant to the district manager; Mary A. Dickinson, Mrs. M. Loether, all of the Sears, Roebuck official family; Harry A. Moran, chairman Merchants Committee: William Wallace, Ida Laurlck, E. Howard Broome, secretary to the mayor; Samuel Auerbach, William Rothman, Simon Abramson, Joseph V. Haas, S. Lester, M. Futernick, Charles F. Knapp, manager Walt Whitman Hotel and Walter L. Tushingham, Courier-Post 
Newspapers. 

Following the dinner, the radio stars and guests were whisked with motorcycle escorts on an inspection tour of Central Airport, and then to the Sears store where a vast throng was on hand to see the noted artists. All the stars made brief talks over the air and then made a tour of the store.


Camden Courier-Post- June 20, 1933

WALKATHON ENDS; PRIZE BALL TONIGHT 
Joe Welsh and Helen Stevens Win $1000; Set Record for East

Joe Welsh, of Camden, and Helen Stevens, of Philadelphia, last night won the Walkathon contest which has been in progress at Central Airport for 3175 continuous hours, setting up a new record for the East.

When Bobby Watson, partner and wife of Richey Neilson, took the third fall for that couple at 10.35 p. m., last night the contest automatically ended. 

Thunderous applause greeted the winners from thousands packed in the hangar. The two couples began a continuous elimination treadmill at 9.15 p.m., Saturday and it progressed for 49 hours and 20 minutes before the losing couple was counted out. During that period the contestants were allowed but five minutes rest every two hours. 

The management announced that 2000 fans remained in the hangar continuously during the treadmill to see that the contest was on the level. Neilson took the first fall at 9.08 p.m., Sunday. Miss Stevens fell at 12.18 p.m. yesterday. Welsh fell at 9.15 p.m. last night. Neilson slumped at 9.40 p.m. and Miss Watson toppled for the losing fall at 10.35. 

The grand ball will be held at the hangar tonight at which time the Courier-Post newspapers will present the $1000 prize to the winners. The money was posted by the management of the Walkathon with the newspapers at the beginning of the contest. 

The winning couple will also be presented with diamond rings by Herman Tull, 2581 Baird Boulevard

The contest was short of breaking a record on the West Coast by 30 hours. It was actually in progress 3172 hours and 35 minutes. It began with 45 couples.


Camden Courier-Post- June 22, 1933

LINDSAY STOPS HERE ON HOP TO BOSTON
British Envoy Denies Any Plan to Confer With F. R. on Coast

Sir Ronald Lindsay, British ambassador to the United States, denied while in Camden yesterday afternoon that he had any plan to confer with 
President Roosevelt at some point along the New England coast. 

Sir Ronald, flying from Washington to Boston, talked to reporters while his plan, halted at Central Airport. It had been reported that he was making the trip to meet the President on the latter's vacation cruise and discuss the progress of the world economic conference at London, 
"Nothing of the sort," said the giant Britisher. "Simply on a little jaunt to Boston to visit friends for two or three days. I've no intention of seeing 
President Roosevelt."

The ambassador declined to answer any questions of state. "I've made it a policy in Washington to answer no questions of that nature." he said. "From time to time I issue press statements but that's all. I get 
along very well with the gentlemen of the press under that arrangement."

Sir Ronald was perfectly willing to talk about the weather, flying and other unimportant subjects. He flies, he said, whenever he can and uses trains as seldom as possible. He thinks Washington's weather "the worst in the world." He likes traveling alone, as he was yesterday, with out the company of secretaries and other attaches of the embassy. 

Although an Englishman, Sir Ronald indicated a frugality usually attributed to the Scotch when he was about to depart. Photographers took his picture when he alighted from the plane and were waiting to take an other as he walked toward it to embark. 

"No, no," he said; raising his hand and half waving them away, 

"Why not?" asked one of the picture takers. 

"You got me once," he replied with a twinkle, "You shouldn't waste an other plate." But he allowed a "close-up" to be taken anyway before he ducked his huge six-foot, four inch form into the plane and flew away.


Camden Courier-Post- June 24, 1933

Camden's Newest Thrill Producer!

NEW 'PLANE RIDE'
THRILLS CAMDENITES
'Aeroplaning' Enables Passenger to Do Stunts With One Foot on Ground

The newest thrill in South Jersey is aero- planing!

Hundreds are learning for the first time on the field opposite Central Airport just what it feels like to be an aviator- without leaving the ground.

That's what the aeroplane does- provide all the thrills of stunt flying at 35 cents a flight.

The aeroplane can be operated in any direction- it goes through all the stunts known to aviation- looping the loop, tai1spinning, etc. It is operated by the person who rides it, for it only holds one person. 

The aeroplane was developed for the primary training of students wishing to take up aerial acrobatics- it gives anyone the "feel" of an airplane much quicker than any ship itself. It teaches one to hold a ship in level flight and how to operate the controls. After having "flown" the aeroplane a student knows what to expect when he actually goes into the air alone for the first time.

Expert aviators use the aeroplane as the most valuable aid in learning to fly upside-down.


Camden Courier-Post- June 29, 1933

NELLIE TAYLOE ROSS VISITS CAMDEN BY AIR

Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross, director of the U. S. Mint and former governor of Wyoming, arrived by plane at Central Airport at 11 :25 a. m. yesterday and proceeded by motor to tile Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, Philadelphia, for dinner.

The plane, one of the fleet of the Eastern Air Transport line, came from Washington.

Camden Courier-Post - August 14, 1933

CAMDEN THRONGS GREET FLYING GLOBE GIRDLER

Wiley Post, round-the-world flier, receiving a bouquet   yesterday    from Miss Betty Moore, of Collingswood, as Mayor Roy R. Stewart looks on at Central Airport. 

Post Welcomed by Mayor, Reception Committees and Beauties as Hundreds Ignore Rain to View Arrival and Motor Parade 

Wiley Post and the City of Camden exchanged official greetings yesterday.

The round-the-world record flier arrived at Central Airport at 11:33 a. m., was feted by reception committees, paraded through the city via Kaighn Avenue and Broadway to Camden Bridge, went to Philadelphia, where receptions were accorded him, returned to Central Airport at 3.11 p. m. and left the city in his ship, the Winnie Mae, in which he twice girdled the earth in faster time than any before him.

A short time later he was in Altoona, Pa., where he filled a speaking engagement.

Several hundred persons stood in the intermittent showers at 

(Continued on Page Eighteen) 

Central Airport & the Airport Circle
mid 1930s

at far left is the Central Airport Swimming Pool
courtesy N.J. Department of Transportation 
(formerly the N.J. State Highway Department)

click on image to enlarge

The Airport Speedway

This venue was open from 1934 to 1939. I believe it originally opened as a dog track in 1934. That venture only lasted one season, and over the next few years boxing, wrestling and racing took place here, under the aegis of promoter Charlie Grip.

Camden Courier-Post

August 1, 1936

Henry Pohl - Ed Warfel

Camden Courier-Post - August 1, 1936

...continued...

Camden Courier-Post - August 10, 1936

...continued...

1934 - Doc Wolf at Central Airport

click on image to enlarge

Looking North on Crescent Boulevard mid-1930s

Camden Courier-Post - October 20, 1936

...continued...

...continued...

1937
Aerial View,
Looking Southwest

From The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory. The Directory described Camden Central Airport as having three 2,500' sod runways.

The aerial photo in the directory depicted a cluster of hangars along the northwest side of the field.

Central Airport - Late 1930s

Camden Courier-Post - February 4, 1938

4 Hurt as Auto Strikes Pole Strewing Live Wires on Road

 Four persons in a small coupe were injured last night when the machine crashed into a pole at Seventeenth Street and Admiral Wilson Boulevard during a dense fog.

The car broke off a telephone pole at the base, strewing live wires on the highway. Traffic was detoured until the damage could be repaired by Bell Telephone Company linemen.

The fog, which covered Camden and its suburbs like a blanket, grounded air liners at Central Airport, slowed up motor traffic on highways and the Camden bridge.

Thomas Tomlinson, 18, of Oak Avenue, Delaware Township, was taking driving lessons in a car he purchased a week ago when he crashed into the pole. Police said three passengers were crowded in the front seat and three more in a rumble seat.

Tomlinson was driving on a student's permit and was accompanied by Allen Filer, 20, a licensed driver, of 713 Grant Street, police learned, Filer is in Cooper Hospital with a fractured right leg. His brother, William, 18, suffered a possible concussion of the brain and is in the same hospital. Tomlinson received bruises of the right leg and arm and was treated at Cooper Hospital.

Samuel McCall, 18, of 708 Bailey Street, was taken to West Jersey Hospital, where he was treated for cuts of the nose. He told police there that someone struck him with a bottle and he would get his assailant later. When taken to police headquarters. McCall was confronted by the others and admitted he was injured in the automobile accident, City Detective Benjamin Simon said.

Mary Williamson, 18, and Eleanor Shockley, 16, both of 625 North Front Street, escaped with a few minor bruises.

Delaware river ferryboats were operated with caution as the view of pilots was obscured, by the density of the fog. Whistles were blown continuously and fog bells rang throughout the night.

Automobiles and buses were slowed down to five miles an hour by thick fog in the suburbs, especially in lowlands and near meadows.

The airport reported all local planes grounded and no airliners were making a call here.

The Weather Bureau forecast indicated it will be colder and cloudy today. The cloudiness will increase tomorrow followed by rain at night.

Camden Courier-Post - February 11, 1938

11 AIR PASSENGERS GET LANDING THRILL
Tail Wheel of Plane Collapses at Central Airport; Nobody Injured

Eleven passengers on a Transcontinental and Western Air Transport plane got an unexpected thrill at the end of their air journey, when the "tail wheel" collapsed during the landing at Central Airport.

Neither the passengers nor the crew of three were injured and the only inconvenience for the riders was that they had to walk from the south end of the field to the Administration building.

All of the passengers were scheduled to leave the plane at Camden although the trip officially was to have ended in Newark. The flight originated on the West Coast but most of the passengers were picked up at Chicago and Pittsburgh.

R. A. Heiderman, the pilot, negotiated the landing to the Northeast-Southwest runway perfectly but as he was taxiing to the South end of the field the wheel collapsed. Heiderman purposely put the plane into a "ground loop to stop it by turning it around on the front wheels.

The passengers were strapped in their seats and were only aware of the mishap by a slight jolt when the wheel let go. The pilot told Carl Flournoy, field manager of the line, that he thought he struck something on the runway but an inspection today revealed it in perfect condition.

The damage was repaired yesterday..

Camden Courier-Post - February 12, 1938

43 South Jersey Children See Mrs. Roosevelt at Airport Here
First Lady Boards Plane After Philadelphia Speech As Mt. Holly Pupils
on Inspection Tour Greet Her; Chats with Teachers

Forty-three Mt. Holly school children got an unexpected thrill yesterday when they arrived for an inspection tour of Central Airport just before the First Lady of the nation enplaned for Washington, after a speaking engagement in Philadelphia Thursday night.

During the few minutes that elapsed before her plane took off at 10.55 a. m., Mrs. Roosevelt greeted the children—pupils in the kindergarten and first grade of Samuel Miller School—and chatted with their teachers, Miss Ruth Kaelin and Mrs. Mildred Haler.

Mrs. Roosevelt was a bit surprised herself to learn that one of her oldest friends was to be another passenger on the American Air Lines plane, Mrs. Ruth Bryan Owen Rohde, former minister to Denmark and onetime Florida congresswoman.

With her husband, Captain Boerge Rohde, she was enroute to Washington for a visit.

Officials of the airline rearranged the seating schedule so that Mrs. Roosevelt could sit with the couple.

The President's wife reached the airport about 10.40 a. m. and was driven there by Mrs. Curtin Winsor, formerly Mrs. Elliott Roosevelt, of Rosemont, Pa.

The nation has "come a long way" since Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation 75 years ago but economic inequalities make virtual slaves of many today, Mrs. Roosevelt told the National Negro Congress in Philadelphia.

"We are getting to a point where we are going to insist that all human beings have certain basic rights in modern civilization—that all should be equal before the law, that there should be no discrimination in citizenship rights, and that all should have the same opportunities for economic and educational activities," she said.

Five thousand Negroes jammed Tindley Temple Methodist Church to hear Mrs. Roosevelt speak at the assembly in honor of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Lincoln's proclamation that declared the slaves free, and another 3000 crowded around the doors outside.

"This thing of getting for all human beings a fair and just hearing in the world and a fair and just treatment, is not easy," the First Lady said. "We have gone on for years in a world where special privilege, selfishness and greed predominated, when it was all right to do things if you could get away with it.

"But now, the conscience of the people is being aroused."

Mrs. Roosevelt told the congress that economic inequalities touch "your race very * closely," and that all communities must realize that poverty in one group affects all others.

"It is not only people of one race who are slaves," she said. "Slavery s of many different kinds. Today we are facing another era, in which we have to make certain things become facts, rather than theories.

'There must be no discrimination in opportunities to have equal rights under the social economic standards throughout the nation."

Mrs. Roosevelt scoffed at efforts of certain organizations to prevent teaching the nation's youth about communism, Fascism and other "isms."

"We've got to let our young people know what's going on elsewhere," she said. "They must be able to meet these adversities with knowledge."

The First Lady was a dinner guest at the Rosemont home of Mrs. Winsor, divorced wife of Elliott Roosevelt who married again recently. Winsor and Mrs. Roosevelt's 5-year-old grandson, William Donner Roosevelt, met her at the train when she arrived in Philadelphia Thursday.

Reunion of Notables at Central Airport

Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt (left) is pictured here at Central Airport with an old friend, Mrs. Ruth Bryan Owen Rohde, and her husband, Capt. Boerge Rohde when they met unexpectedly as passengers on a Washington-bound plane of the American Airlines. Mrs. Rohde, former minister to Denmark and Florida congresswoman, and the First Lady chatted for a few minutes and, after posing for cameramen, were escorted to the plane. Some 40 Mt. Holly school children unexpectedly met Mrs. Roosevelt at the airport.

Camden Morning Post - February 28, 1938

Camden Dog Track

Dogs only raced in 1934. The rodeo put on a show in June of 1938.

Camden Courier-Post - August 1, 1938

CLARENCE CHAMBERLIN
When 1927 a $25,000 prize was offered in to the first pilot to cross the Atlantic in solo flight, Chamberlin was eager to try. However Charles Lindbergh landed in Paris on May 12.

However, on June 4 he and  Charles Levine flew non-stop to Germany, and his trip of some 43 hours and 3,905 miles later — which bettered Lindbergh's distance record — landed on a small field near Eisleben. 

He designed his own line of Crescent monoplanes, flew one in the 1929 Air Races, then acquired a diesel- powered Lockheed Vega, in which he set a world altitude record of over 19,000 feet in 1932. He formed Chamberlin Airline between New York and Boston, but when it seemed doomed for failure, he used its four Curtiss Condors for a barnstorming group during the next five years. He came to Camden in 1938.

Sponsored by Camden jewelers
Greenetz & Greenetz 

Camden Courier-Post - June 23, 1939

Right: Camden resident Isaac W. Budd flew back and forth between Central Airport and Philadelphia PA  in a Stearman N2S-3 Trainer (background) during the spring of 1941.

Left: Isaac Budd after completing his training and receiving his commission in December 1942.

The Reynolds Bombshell
at Central Airport - 1947

Businessman Milton Reynolds, who made millions with the commercial success of the ballpoint pen, took his profits and indulged his hobby, a lifelong love of flying. In the 1930s, he had owned a Stinson Reliant biplane he named the “Flying Printasign” after his signmaking company. Even as he was planning to exit the pen business, he bought a used A-26 bomber. He had the armor stripped off and retrofitted the plane with new commercial engines, christening it the “Reynolds Bombshell.” He hired war-hero Bill Odom as pilot, Tex Sallee as copilot, and in 1947 the three of them flew around the world in 78 hours, 55.5 minutes, making four stops for refueling, to set the world record for twin-engine propeller aircraft. The previous record, set by Howard Hughes, was 91 hours, 14 minutes. Both records were surpassed in 1957. Reynolds had timed the flight to coincide with the international introduction of the Reynolds Rocket, a pen that wrote in two colors.

 

Reynolds Bombshell - British Pathe Film - 1947

REYNOLDS BOMBSHELL


Central Airport & the Airport Circle
circa 1950
before the 1951 fire that destroyed Weber's Hofbrau House
courtesy N.J. Department of Transportation 
(formerly the N.J. State Highway Department)

click on image to enlarge

The Airport Circle
1953
courtesy N.J. Department of Transportation 
(formerly the N.J. State Highway Department)

click on image to enlarge

1957
Looking North on Route 130 towards the Airport Circle
Still standing are the old hangers, soon to be abandoned

2001 Aerial View 
US Highway 130 at left, State Highway 70 across top of photograph. 
Remnant of former Airport Circle appear in upper left. 

Weber's
Hof Brau
and the
1951 Fire

Club Shaguire, formerly Neil Deighan's, now The PUB

Airport Rug & Carpet Company 

Thanks to Peter McHugh for proofreading this page. Also thanks to John Ciafrani and Tom Probst for further information about Central Airport.

For more about our forgotten Aviation History
Visit Paul Freeman's
Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields
website,
without whose research this page would be far poorer.

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