In 1951 New Carlisle resident and Deam’s Auto Service owner, Bill Schubert, landed on the strip of farmland owned by another New Carlisle resident, Galen Barnhart. The landing was made to determine whether or not the land could be used as a landing strip. After favorable results, Barnhart made a deal in 1952 and rented out the land that created a private airport on the outskirts of tiny New Carlisle.
That little airport outside of the slightly larger city of New Carlisle still stands today. Over 60 years after its founding, the small Andy Barnhart Memorial Airport has grown to include several hangars that house nearly 130 airplanes and still serves as a bustling center of activity for local pilots
Duane Jones and Jared Scott Berner are two of the pilots who use the airport. Flying is a family affair for both.
Berner spent his life flying with his grandfather, Don Berner, until his grandpa’s death in 2010, “I didn’t know what to do when Grandpa was gone...I contemplated getting out of it. Then (a friend) told me I just needed to get back in the air...and he was right. I bought this plane in 2011 because it was grandpa’s favorite. Her name is “Nell-Bell” and she rolled of the line May 12, 1946...I know more about this airplane than half of my girlfriends!” laughs Berner.
Berner says he tries to set a positive example by sharing his love of flying with others as often as he can. Once he unwittingly gave a ride to the young girl of a single parent who, upon landing, he found out had terminal cancer and had always wanted to be a commercial airplane pilot.
Jones has been flying since he was “six-weeks-old.” He flew with his father, Rodney Jones, who was also instrumental in creating New Carlisle’s first Parade of Planes. After hearing that the city could not afford to have a Fourth of July parade, Rodney and other Flying Angels decided the city “deserved a parade.”
After doing a “taxi test run” with a Wright Flyer 150 at midnight through New Carlisle to see if the planes would actually fit in the street, the first Parade of Planes was born in 1996. Rodney passed away in 2008 and that year’s parade was dedicated to him.
The plane Schubert flew that helped establish the airport has been restored and is entered into the Parade of Planes every year.
Jones says the largest parade took place in 2003 when 89 airplanes participated to help celebrate 100 years of flight. Unfortunately, in recent years, bad weather has lowered the number of planes able to participate in the event.
After this year’s Parade of Planes, Jones invites families to head out to the airport from 1:00-3:00 where pilots will be giving free rides to kids, tweens, and teens as part of the EAA’s “Young Eagles” program. Kids who participate can get their name entered into the “World’s Largest Logbook.” Jones says he believes a copy of the logbook is housed at the Smithsonian.
Barnhart did more than just provide a piece of land for an airport, he was also instrumental in the founding of Flying Angels Inc., the private flying club that “owns” the non-profit airport, now named in memory of his son.
At 90-something years-old, Eddie Ridenour is the oldest member of the Flying Angels. Dave Shade, Dick Alkire, Jess Stefanics, Roger James, Bill Knisley, Bob Hunt, and George Medve have been members of the club for over 30 years.
Joe Vinskey serves as President of the Flying Angels Inc. Flying Club. Coleen Morelock is the Vice President, Todd Shiverdecker serves as Secretary, Steve Emo is the Treasurer, and Randy Barney serves as the Airport Manager.
“We really try to give back to the community,” says Jones, “(The airport) a good thing and we hope people enjoy it and take advantage of it.
For more information about the Flying Angels or the Andy Barnhart Memorial Airport. Contact the airport at (937) 849-9643.