Beacon Field Airport®


©2017,  all rights reserved.   No part, portion, or whole of this website may be copied, reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the website owner.

Some Past Notes from the ONLINE JOURNAL
Moved here from front page

After weeks of rainouts ---

Stearmans Roar at FIRST AIRSHOW of the season !!

29 May 2016,  Historic BEALETON Va --  We recently found in the Beacon archives a 1976 Program for the Bealeton Flying Circus Air Show and decided to look them up.   Indeed, complete with very active website and weekly shows lined up, off to Bealeton we went and found sparkling Stearmans and grounds reminiscent of the Sunday airshows at Beacon and Hybla Valley.   With 25 rainy days,  today was the FIRST air show of the season !!


Family friendly with café, gift shop, picnic areas,  and 4 star restrooms on 200 acres,  the Bealeton Flying Circus also offers biplane rides before and after the show.     A unique black and silver 450 HP Stearman owned by the field  performs the wing walking portion.    The other planes are privately owned.  


A great way to spend the day and see what it was like back in the flying days of Beacon Field!!

posters available in gift shop
Aerial from 1976 Program
Beacon Friends Complete 25th Adopt A Highway

March 23, 2016---  The dedicated esprit de corps of Friends of Beacon Field Airport completed the 25th Adopt-A-Highway event today!!  Since October 2009, volunteers have removed litter four times a year or more along South Kings Highway from the Franklin Street to the South Benson drive intersections.    

More than 2500 lbs of car parts, liquor/beer bottles, fast food wrappers, artificial flowers, discarded construction debris, iron pipes, tobacco products, dental floss, skoal cans, plastic water bottles, carbonated beverage bottles, cans, garbage, shopping carts, illegal signage, newspapers, magazines, books, X*!@, $!**!!s, clothes, boots, CDs, tools and more.

The hard work has made a huge difference in the appearance and safety of our stretch of the highway.    Awesome !!!

THIRD ANNIVERSARY   August 2nd, 2016

The 3rd Anniversary of the installation of the US 1 Wall of Aviation finds the landscaping beautifully filled in with crepe myrtles, roses, thick grass, and pristine bright clean concrete.    We greatly appreciate Costco's continued maintenance and upkeep of this very busy area.     Recently,  VDOT installed no commercial parking restrictions which affords better visitor parking.   

EYEWITNESS to BEACON Burnelli History 
Tells His Story !

Historic Beacon Field 17 May 2016 --  This week we were thrilled and delighted to receive this awesome memory about the rare Burnelli from someone who performed maintenance on the bird in 1959 just as it was being prepared to leave the closed Beacon Field.   This remarkable contact came from Captain John Winter, Retired Continental Airlines Assistant Chief Pilot whose civil aviation career began at Beacon Field:  

"In 1959, I worked for Paul Zimmer Aviation, which did aerial photography with a number of vintage Aircraft. I can't remember the supervisor I worked for, but he was an examiner for  the FAA qualified to issue the practical examination for the Aircraft and power plant mechanics licenses.

He assigned me to prepare the Ballard Burnelli in time to exit Beacon Field before its closing.   As we came closer to the planned departure, I recall Mr. Zimmer would make high speed runs, in order to get a feel for the Aircraft, because he was the one who was going to fly it to BWI.

I remember standing by the runway as the Ballard Burnelli departed Beacon Field, and I was told that was the last Aircraft to depart Beacon Field.

I went on to be hired by American Airlines at National Airport.   After many years I found myself as Captain for Frontier Airlines.  I received a trip assignment to BWI. To my surprise, after landing I came nose to nose with my old friend Ballard Burnelli, parked in the heart sank seeing that proud bird sitting in the grass at BWI awaiting the junk man!!   

I checked with ground control and he was surprised that I knew what the Aircraft was. He told me that the Airport Manager had a picture of it when it came to BWI. After shut down I walked down to the Airport Managers office, and as I was told, he did have the picture.  

I put at least two plus weeks on the Ballard Burnelli, and the one thing that remains is the fact that it used vegetable based hydraulic fluid.

Thanks to you all for taking care of one of my most fondest memories.   I am so happy to hear of the restoration of this aircraft."

Captain John Winter

Asst. Chief Pilot

Continental Airlines ( Ret )

Then and Now Historic US Route 1 
Year Long Photo Series

June 25, 2014  Beacon Field --  Our weekly photo series “Then and Now Historic US Route 1”  began in June 2013 with the Beacon Amoco construction photo and ended 52 weeks later with the survivor Travelers Motel.    We shared many of our collection of Route 1  memorabilia highlighting notable and some not so notable sites from the Potomac River to the Occoquan Creek.   

Many of the establishments have been bulldozed and are home to new business such as Miller’s Motor Court, Mt. Vee Hotel, Thieves Market, and the Mt Vernon Drive In Theatre.   A few others are still there after all these years including the World Famous Kramer’s Equipment and the Virginia Lodge.

Our series also featured events that took place along US 1 such as the Beacon Field Horse Shows and Equestrian Championships and the miracle of Eastern Airlines Flight 564.

We are excited to announce that we recently began working on the continuation of this series in book format to include more of our ever growing collection of US 1 history in the 20th century. 

This is a new challenge for us and we will share progress updates and welcome all ideas!




Dear Santa, the Burnelli needs Tires !!

December 15, 2015---  The New England Air Museum continues to make grand progress on the CBY-3 restoration project.  The latest update involves the assembly of new engine cowls which were missing from the grand old bird as seen in the photo below.   

The NEAM volunteers stripped paint, made metal repairs, and mounted the freshly overhauled cowls on the Wright R-2600 engines.  

The Burnelli has a Santa's Wish List which includes two tires (size 9.00-6), pilot seats, propellers (12 foot, 7 inch diameter), and circa 1945 to 59 radios and navigation sets.
 Click here to visit the Windsor Locks hangar to see restoration photos and read Chief Newman's restoration diaries!!   

The famous Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster sitting in front of Zimmer's hangar October 1959, click photo to read more on the restoration process at the NEW ENGLAND AIR MUSEUM in Windsor Locks, CT. Crew Chief Harry Newman has meticulously documented the reconstruction process thru periodic postings with photos.
Leesburg Airport Celebrate 50 Years !!

September 24, 2015 — In the photo at left, Radio Announcer Arthur Godfrey surveys the damage to the hangars and his plane at Beacon Field Airport on April 25, 1934, where a sudden storm flattened the structures. In the far left, photographers and curious by standers climbed the beacon tower for a better view. {courtesy ACME photos}.

Mr. Godfrey flew many times at Beacon Field and after WWII later went on to buy Leesburg airport from Arthur C. Hyde {owner of Hyde Field, Congressional Airports}.    Famous Eddie Rickenbacker, President of Eastern Airlines, gave Arthur Godfrey a DC-3 which he used to commute to his radio studio in New Jersey.   The DC-3's fabulous Twin Wasp radial engines rattled many windows !!

This upcoming weekend, Leesburg hosts its annual airshow on September 26 and will be celebrating the 50 years of continuous operation stemming from Arthur Godfrey's acquisition of the airfield.   For more on Leesburg Airport visit this recent article in Leesburg Today--> Click Here

Aviation in Roanoke !!

Aviation in Roanoke

April 22, 2015, Historic Beacon Field Aviation in Roanoke

An excellent capture of Roanoke’s important contributions to aviation history !!   Quality large photos and comprehensive captions guide the reader thru 115 years of aviation history from the early 1900’s hot air balloon rides and Curtiss pusher biplane demonstrations at the Great Roanoke Fairs to the present day Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA).       

The authors, Marshall Harris (the son of longtime Woodrum Field Manager) and Nelson Harris (author and former Mayor), have masterfully presented Roanoke aviation history never before seen by the public. 

127 pages are packed with over a hundred aerials, maps, plats, and photographs of important events, people, and places that compel the reader not to put the book down.    Famous aviator personalities including Eddie Rickenbacker, Betty Skeleton, Squeek Burnett, and Louise Thaden, all had influence in ROA.  

With airfield names like Trout, Cook, Horton, and Shrine, the authors reveal the modern day sites of these long forgotten landing fields important to early aviation history.   This editor learned alma mater, Patrick Henry High School, was built on the site of Shrine Airfield that was originally planned for a large Masonic complex!   

A delightful book full of surprises and a masterpiece of history preservation!

This soft cover available online major retailers.  For more Woodrum Field history click here.


This vintage ROA pocket guide was found inside our previously read book
Woodrum Airfield Dedication Cachet, 1941 {courtesy Lehman collection}
Cachet commemorating US ARMY aviators in ROA in 1919 {courtesy Lehman collection}
Gyrocopter --> Deja Vu 1934  !! 

April 15, 2015--  When the gyrocopter landed on the Capitol Mall today and the pilot arrested, we couldn't help but remember the news photos of 1934.   East coast Pitcairn debuted their "wingless" helicopter by demonstrating the capabilites along the mall and flying by the national monuments.   

DEJA VU ? This news photo of November 10, 1934, shows a completely enclosed cockpit of the then "new" PITCAIRN WINGLESS Gyro Helicopter, piloted by Jim Ray, flying by the Washington Monument encased in scaffolding. Note the White House below right. CLICK PIC for youtube archive video

 Happy Fifth Anniversary !!

August 19, 2014 -- Historic Beacon Field  

It is amazing that five years ago today with looming storm clouds we dedicated the Beacon Field Airport Historic Marker on Orville Wright's birthday !   

The marker has stood tall and amassed plenty of stories to tell with thousands of cars a day driving by, a massive construction project across the street,  the cosmic experience of the Space Shuttle flyover, the prodding and poking of Geo-Cachers, the occasional adjustment from county maintenance to restore true plumb, lots of attention from the mall gardeners,  and the occasional glimpse of the neighborhood foxes.

If you haven't been back, this recent photo shows what must be the best landscaped  historic marker in Fairfax County !

August 19, 2014
 Little League Sponsor Appreciation

August 2nd, 2014 --   The Alexandria Potomac Little League presented 2 plaques to the Friends of Beacon Field for the sponsorship of the Beacon Pirates and Beacon Nationals.   The spring 2014 season was a wet one with lots of rescheduled games but all in all a successful program!!

 A Lincoln Revival !!

July 4th, 2014, Historic Beacon Field --  Lincoln Beachey:  The Man Who Owned the Sky

Lincoln Beachey was the first guy to fly upside down, successfully repeat and perfect the loop (and lived to tell it), and the first to demonstrate “hands off” the controls.


The author Frank Marrero brillantly revives the history of this less well known but no less important early American flier LINCOLN BEACHEY who wowed crowds with his death defying dead stick aerial maneuvers that left many in the audience fainting from the sight.   Most people in the audience had never seen an airplane much less seeing a pilot walk away from the spinning craft that literally fell from the sky.    Other fliers attempting the same dare devil stunts met their untimely fate.  

The reader lives vicariously through the meticulous description of the thrills and spills of acrobatic flying and an abundance of photos. With an easy to read style,  the author presents the science and planning behind the success of the “Little Looper” aircraft that was a Glenn Curtiss design modified with a French engine to solve the gyroscopic effect.    A great read !

This soft cover book may be purchased direct from Mr. Marrero who resides in Fairfax, California ! click here   For even more Beachey info he has a webpage Forgotten Father of Acrobatics

MAY 2014

Five years of Starbucks

Historic Beacon Field, 3 May 2014 --  After 5 years of continuous rotating display at Starbucks, we have discontinued the effort to focus on our other venues. A great deal of interest was generated by the exhibit and we are pleased to have met many who shared their memories of Beacon Field with us!

   In March 2009,  the first group of photographs of Historic Beacon Field and City View Mansion were displayed at the Starbucks located in Beacon Center which presently occupies the original Beacon Field Airport site.  Through Starbucks' generosity, prime wall space had been given to showcase our local airport history depicting the features, personalities, airplanes, and concurrent events relating to US Route 1 aviation.

Over the past five years more than 100 photographs were put on view for the customers of Beacon Starbucks.  If these images could talk, they would have very interesting stories to tell as many came from old newspaper clippings and archives, private collections, auctions, attics, and even E-bay!  The photographs acquired were in various formats and conditions and in order to produce a professional venue each required resizing, remastering, and editing.


December 2013

GREAT Read NOT Just for Pilots !!

December 15, 2013, Historic Beacon Field -  The Aviators:  Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight.

This is a great book! Riveting stories of the trials of early aviation through heroic tales of 3 important US aviators Rickenbacker, Doolittle and Lindbergh. The author presents successes and failures and many previously unknown details of the lives of these pioneers. From nearly being trampled by adoring fans to the shark invested waters of the Pacific, the easy writing style of the author makes for comparative personification of these aviators in memorable content. We learned a lot and think others will too!

August 2013

NEW BOOK! -- Friend and local resident William J. Roberts NEW Book!

Historic Beacon Field 13 August 2013  --   Friend and local resident William J. Roberts has written a great new softcover called "River to Rails: A Guidebook to Historical Markers in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia" .   

Mr. Roberts has compiled over 225 markers and signs in his generously illustrated masterpiece.    This book is long overdue and a welcome handbook for this weary editor weaving around the tight turns and crowded streets of old town in search of history!!  

A book signing was held at the Lyceum (corner of Prince and S. Washington) Wednesday,  August 14, from 4 to 8pm.   Click here to read more on his blog page.