In this image from the high summer of 1940, the Main Line Airport spreads out with its new hangar, accommodating 22 aircraft in residence and was reported to be “one of the busiest and best-equipped airfields of its size in the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Courtesy of Robert Devaney.


WEST CHESTER (September 25, 2017) – State Senator Andy Dinniman will honor Chester County’s rich history of aviation and aeronautical achievement with the dedication of a historical marker recognizing the Main Line Airport on Thursday, October 5 at 2 p.m.

The Main Line Airport, also known as the Paoli Airport, stood for more than a half-century at the current site of the Great Valley Corporate Center in Malvern. As one of Pennsylvania’s earliest country airfields, it served aviation from the 1920s into the 1970s and was home to major research breakthroughs that would be later incorporated into the
world’s first successful helicopter.

“The Main Line Airport is one of our region’s unsung heroes, but the courage, innovation, and contributions of its pilots, aviators, and engineers were by no means insignificant,” Dinniman said. “The airport provided training for countless pilots during both peace and wartime, including a Civil Air Patrol squadron in the uncertain early months of World War II. Later, it supported pioneering research developments that led to the birth of the helicopter as we know it today.”

Dinniman will be joined by officials from the Tredyffrin-Easttown Historical Society, East Whiteland Township, Chester County, the American Helicopter Museum, and Ricoh Americas in dedicating the marker. The event, located at 70 Valley Stream Parkway in the Great Valley Corporate Center, is free and open to the public. It will include some of the sons and daughters of the Main Line Airport’s original owners and pilots. In addition, weather permitting, the dedication will feature a classic aircraft flyover of several vintage aircraft from the period that the Main Line Airport was in operation.

One of the notable women at the Main Line Airport was Joan King, who began flying lessons at the field in 1935 when she was 17. By the end of 1938, King King was cited as one of the forty-four outstanding female pilots in America. In this late 1930s image, Joan King is shown refuels a Taylor E-2 Cub at the Main Line Airport. Courtesy of Orville Jenkins.

The event will close with a small reception and light refreshments at the adjacent headquarters of Ricoh. Many historic photographs will be on display there and aviators who actually flew out of the Main Line Airport and its subsequent heliport will be in attendance and available for comment.

“The story of the Main Line Airport is one of pioneers, entrepreneurs, and innovators who, inspired by the American Dream and the call of duty and service to their country, took bold risks in challenging what was thought possible and succeeded in changing the future of aviation for the better,” Dinniman said. “I would be remiss not to recognize Roger Thorne for his vast contributions to preserving the history of the airport through his leadership and hard work within the Tredyffrin-Easttown Historical Society, as well thanking the generous patrons and donors who helped make it possible.”

The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the Ricoh lot and other locations as directed.

* For much more on the significant history of the Main Line Airport, visit the
Dedication of Historical Marker page on the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical
Society website.

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