DU PONT AIRFIELD / AIRPORT

The DuPont Airfield was located at the intersection of Lancaster Pike (DE Rt 48) and Centre Road (DE Rt 141). It was also bounded by the old Reading Railroad and Mt. Olive and Mt. Zion Cemeteries. The airport was established in 1924 by Henry B. DuPont. Charles Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis" made a landing there in 1927.

The airfield had two grass runways forming an off-center "T", the longest one being 2,900 feet. Originally, the airfield had one hanger, an office building and a radio tower. Over the years, additional hangers, a control tower and buildings were constructed.

The airfield later became the home to All American Aviation Company, which was founded by two DuPont brothers, Richard C., and Alexis Felix in 1937. They initially experimented with an airmail pickup system. That company later became Allegheny Airlines in 1952, then USAir in 1979 and US Airways in 1996. The last flight out of the airfield was in 1958.

The airfield site was vacated for a short time in the 1960s. Later, however, a few divisions of various DuPont Departments moved in to occupy the empty buildings. The first was the 'Model Shop', a division of the Engineering Development Lab (EDL). They were located in the lower floor of the main front hanger building. They produced scale models of soon-to-be constructed DuPont manufacturing facilities.

A non-DuPont company, Micron, leased a small building set back into the woods by the railroad track.

Around 1971, the Imaging Systems Division of the Photo Products Department relocated from the Development Department Building on Water Street in Newport (which later became the Willow Bank Site) to the airport. They took over all of the remaining hangers, brick buildings and steel Butler buildings. One group designed and manufactured graphics art and X-ray film processors and associated equipment. Another group manufactured audiocassette tape as part of DuPont's entrance into the new consumer audiocassette product line. Later, the DuPont Video Production and Recording Division moved into one of the buildings and turned it into a video-recording studio.

The Control Tower was never occupied and remained empty until it was later demolished. An opened steel test tower was dismantled after being struck by lightning in 1972. That lightning strike also took out the main electrical feed to the entire site resulting in an electrical contractor to perform emergency repairs to get the site functioning again.

During those three years, employees reported that they found runway lights in the ground and other airport related items during lunchtime walks.

In 1974 the Imaging Systems Division vacated the airport and relocated to the Glasgow Site. The outcome of the Model Shop and Micron is not known

In 1978, DuPont began construction of Barley Mill in phases, demolishing all of the existing airfield hangers, control tower and other buildings, adding new buildings as required. DuPont recently sold the Barley Mill complex and is relocating all of its employees to the Chestnut Run Site as plans are underway by the new owner to redevelop the site pending approval.

The Airway to Everywhere: A History of All American Aviation, 1937-1953 by Walter David Lewis and William F. Trimble is a good source for the early history of the DuPont Airfield.

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NC-127, Site of the DuPont Airfield
Aerial Photo from 1931 Satellite Image today
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The following 13 photographs were taken between 1929 and 1939
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(Above 13 photographs believed to be from the Hagley Museum Collection)

Control Tower Logbook - Click to enlarge... Control Tower Logbook - Click to enlarge...
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Barley Mill Site Today

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Du Pont Barley Mill Plaza Entrance Barley Mill Plaza Proposal Sign

 

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Created: July 31, 2008
Revised: June 22, 2009