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Friday April 18, 2014
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Washtenaw Airport

 

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And cheap, reliable, and easy-to-fly airplanes were suddenly available. After the war, the government was selling as many as 10,000 training aircraft it no longer wanted. Many of these primary, basic, and advanced trainers (designated PT, BT, and AT), like the Fairchild PT-19, Vultee BT-13, Stearman P-17, and North American AT-6, could be purchased for a few hundred dollars.

The convergence of cheap aircraft, willing veterans, and the GI Bill brought a crush of business to the Ann Arbor Airport--so much that four flight instructors there, who did business as the Washtenaw Flyers, decided another airport was needed to handle the load. Led by forty-year-old WWII vet Robert MacVicar, they purchased the 113-acre Armbruster Farm in Scio Township near the corner of Jackson and Staebler roads. In 1946, they opened a small general aviation airfield there. They named it Washtenaw Airport.

The airport had three grass runways running in different directions so that novice pilots would always have the safest option of taking off and landing into the wind. The longest, at 2,600 feet, ran northwest/southeast; the east-west runway was 2,500 feet long, and the northeast-southwest one was 2,300 feet. In addition to covering most wind conditions, the runways were lighted with diesel-filled smudge pots for dusk and night takeoffs and landings. There was a "T" hangar on the east side of the airport, near Staebler Road, and an office in the old Armbruster farmhouse in the corner facing Jackson.

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