Remember When …



Mrs. Ross Seely beside one of the planes at her husband’s airfield near Belsay and Lapeer roads in Burton. Photo courtesy of the Burton Area Historical Society

Mrs. Ross Seely beside one of the planes at her husband’s airfield near Belsay and Lapeer roads in Burton. Photo courtesy of the Burton Area Historical Society

Do you like to fly? Well in Genesee County there are lots of airstrips and airports. Which is your favorite?

There are 14 active places in Genesee County where pilots can land a plane, did you know that? Flushing, Flint, Fenton and many others. There was a building on the corner of Maple Ave. and Saginaw Road to remind us of a woman named Mildred Doran, where the airport was ( they had put up a memorial, but it’s gone now).

A Flint area aviator, Doran was among 10 people that died during a Dole race in 1927. They were flying planes from California to Hawaii – a brand-new adventure and she didn’t make it. It was a hard and daring feat, just like many things.

Seely Airport is the one I know about the most, because it was in Burton Township (I also met Seely’s granddaughter, Jamie). After Ross Seely became the first pharmacist, he built Seely’s Drug Store on the corner of Lapeer and Belsay Road.

Then, Mr. and Mrs. Ross Seely built an airport too, in their back yard, after they had built the former 23 Supermarket. Ask your grandparents if they remember planes flying around, they could land on the water, ice or in a field. What if someone wanted to go up north fishing or golfing? Jump into a small plane and go. I got to fly to Traverse City once for a business meeting in the 1980s. Back in the day we didn’t all just drive cars, take a bus, a train or hitch a ride on a plane with a friend.

 

 

Charles Lindbergh in 1927 with the “Spirit of St. Louis” even flew using Flint-built technology in his plane. Many small airports popped up across Genesee County in the 1920-60s, when things were growing so fast. Money, baby boomers and General Motors…back then they needed to go back and forth to Detroit, so expanding travel was here and little air strips were built for AC, Buick and Bishop Airport.

Remember When is a weekly column in the Burton View featuring historical stories about the community from the Burton Area Historical Society. If you have some Burton history to share, email History.Mona@yahoo.com.