About N79

The Northumberland County Airport exists today because of the future thinking of its current active leaders combined with the future thinking of those individuals who developed the original idea for a grass strip.  In 1928 the Shamokin Aero Club passed a resolution to create a grass strip airport at the current location of the Northumberland County Airport.  

The concept for an airport emphasized the benefits of placing Northumberland County on the international aviation map.  Improved Commerce and air mail were offered to the public as immediate benefits for this project. 

The local pioneers in aviation decided to name the airport after Shamokin native Captain Holden Richardson.  He served in the Navy during World War I and was best known for his development of Seaplanes as a tool for the U.S. Navy.  Captain Richardson’s career included a degree from the U.S. Naval Academy followed by a Master’s Degree from M.I.T.  He proudly held the honor of License No. 13 and Pilot No. 12 in the U.S. Navy. 

The grand opening of Richardson Field was colorfully described as an event that would require parking for thousands of participants.  The Department of Transportation was called upon to assure proper “oiling” of a minimum of four roads leading to the field.

The importance of air mail and the hope for international recognition quickly faded.  In 3 years after opening, the Field was transferred to private ownership because of lack of proper funding.  This transfer was made after local efforts by the following Shamokin citizens:  Major Z. K. Blake, Myles Kershner, Ralph Zuern, Calvin Dunkelberger, L. J. Grauer, John R. G. Weisner, Jr., Vernon Dornbach, Frank Schmidt, Charles Lippiatt and George D. Hack.

The private ownership of the field did not interfere with development of aviation for the public.  Title to the field ultimately transferred to Mr. Leisenring to Ray Hoffman.  Ray Hoffman sold the entire facility to Northumberland County Airport Authority in 1972. 

The Northumberland County Airport Authority has actively managed the facility as a volunteer Board since 1972.

Airport history

The Shamokin district aero club, comprised of pilots and those interested in aviation, began promoting the concept of developing a local airfield in the mid 1920s. The farm of Mr. and Mrs. F. L. Paul was sold May 1928 to the newly chartered Shamokin District Aero Club of Shamokin, Pa, for the purposes of social enjoyments and the maintenance of an aviation field and landing place. There were 56 stock holders from which 21 were chosen to be directors for the first year. Subsequently, an airfield plan was developed, financing arranged and construction commenced.  The new airfield was completed on the current site in the 1928-1929 period. Some of the original farm and farm buildings remained.

On February 22, 1928, the federal government entered a five-year lease to use a 35-acre portion of the airfield. The government constructed an airport beacon tower and installed field lighting. The Shamokin Aero Club used the remaining airfield area, some 32-acres, for civilian aviation uses.

On June 23, 1928, the airfield was dedicated as Richardson Field in honor of a local Shamokin native, Capt. Holden C. Richardson. Richardson had developed a reputation as a Naval Aviator and Instructor. He was an accomplished aircraft designer and was active in aeronautical research. Naval Instructor Richardson was a designated participant at the original meetings of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in the Office of the Secretary of War on April 23, 1915.

Richardson Field encountered a number of problems in the early 1930s. The federal government withdrew its financial support; a number of minor aircraft crashes occurred; the National economy was in the throes of the Great Depression; and the local usage of the airfield decreased due to local economic conditions. The Shamokin Aero Club did not possess sufficient financing to operate Richardson field. The Club elected to dispose of the property.

The property was sold to Jacob E. Leisenring, a local Bear Gap resident who was in the lumber business. Mr. Leisenring died in 1943. Shortly after that, Lloyd Gaugler purchased the farm. Mr. Gaugler then sold the farm to Roy Hoffman in 1948.

In the late 1940s, Mr. Hoffman made a decision to revitalize Richardson Field. In the early years, Hoffman was assisted by Paul Erdman in the effort to redevelop the airport. Hoffman was interested in aviation. He brought a positive attitude and a will to succeed. Hoffman’s goal was to revive the airfield, attract more users and make improvements. Hoffman’s tenure lasted some 35 years from the late 1940s to the early 1980s. During that period, he imparted considerable time and effort into the airfield operation, including major involvement in the planning and implementation of a number of physical airfield improvements. They included the construction of a paved runway, connecting taxiway and apron, several hangers, a terminal building, and airfield lighting improvements. He also instituted and operated a flight school at the airfield.

The Northumberland County Airport Authority was founded on September 17, 1969. Northumberland County appointed the original Authority on January 14, 1970. The Northumberland County Airport Authority purchased Richardson Field in 1972. The airfield was renamed the Northumberland County Airport and Ray Hoffman retained as the Airport Manager.



Northumberland County Airport

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