Elevation 249 feet, Fairfax County, Virginia GPS 38 46'20.40"N : 77 4'54.07"W
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Mr. H. Keaney Kopp was a well known personality, aviator, and parachutist at both Beacon Field and Hybla Valley Airports. A Fairfax County native, he began flight training at Beacon Field where he performed aerial acrobatic stunts at the frequent Sunday airshows.(1)
He continued aviation training at Pensacola upon joining the Navy in 1942. He quickly earned his wings and flew F-6F Hellcats with the US Forces in Australia during WWII.
Returning stateside in 1945, he conducted Navy test pilot training in Columbus, Ohio, ultimately achieving the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
Test Pilot H. Keaney Kopp in Corsair on base in Columbus, Ohio.
In 1946, LCDR Kopp left the Navy and returned to the local area and began utilizing his military experience and network in his many endeavors. He was described by colleagues as a veritable dynamowho "seemed to be one of those fellows with enough arms, hands, brains, and time for everything".(2) Kopp deeply appreciated the challenges facing the aviation industry, both private and commercial activity, and focused most of his efforts on bringing to light the need for better airports and facilities not only in the metro area but nationally.
One of Mr. Kopp's most interesting and ingenious pursuits was the steadfast attempt to foster and teach US Congressmen to fly through the Congressional Pilots Club.(3) Aptly named Flight Director of the Congressional Pilots Club, Keaney Kopp, recognized the enormous potential to build an alliance with those who were in position to affect the future of aviation. In a very short time the club had grown to 30 Congressional aviation enthusiasts by 1947 with 12 students achieving a pilot's license.(4)
These Congressmen were committed flyers and veteran aviator Congressman Engle (in photo, above) relayed that he had done most of his campaigning for election by plane. The Washington Post reported that the senior representatives were also avid students including a twenty term Congressman from Chicago.(5)
Mr. Kopp also promoted aviation in a newspaper column "Keaney Kopp's Kolumn" carried locally in the Alexandria Gazette. As the Aviation Editor, he specifically addressed the need for more airports and improved facilities to accommodate the rapidly expanding aviation industry.(6)
He worked at the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics on Constitution Avenue in downtown Washington DC. BuAER was responsible for procurement, design, and support of Naval aircraft and related systems.
Meanwhile, back in the air, Keaney Kopp teamed up with his old friend Jimmy Greenwood, a former newspaper cartoonist turned aerial daredevil. Under the tutelage of Bob Ashburn owner of Hybla Valley Airport, they formed SKYCAPADES, an air circus that performed manysummer Sunday afternoon air shows at both Beacon and Hybla Valley Airports.(7)
Piloting an all metal wing Luscombe and BT-13, and a fabric wing PT-19, the two young stuntmen made thrilling parachute jumps and conducted stunt flying including rolls, loops, spins, inverted flights, precision manuevers, and streamer cutting.(8)
July 24, 1927 Herald
The very organized and well run aerial shows received lots of publicity. The innovative team was always refreshing the stunts and inventing new "defying death" thrills captured in headlines like "Air Circus and Death Show" and "Thrills at Hybla Valley" that would command the front page of the metro section of the Washington Post.(9)
Kopp's abundant energy and youthful enthusiasm were key to the SKYCAPADES' success and his other vocational pursuits. He was the Virginia/Maryland Regional Sales Manager for the Luscombe Silvaire distributor and also committed to a high volume of primary flight instruction.
Achieving one miracle after another, Kopp used his charismatic personality to recruit Santa Claus to be the passenger in his sleek silver Luscombe, towed by a Jeep in the 1947 Alexandria Christmas Parade on Washington Street.(1)
Artwork by Jimmy Greenwood
Washington Herald, Washington Post, Fairfax Herald
The Washington Post, May 3, 1950
No wonder then at the ripe old age of 31, Herman Keaney Kopp as a Democrat entered the 1950 race for elected office of US Congressman for the Virginia 8th District.(10) Several weeks before the primary, he withdrew from the race; however, his name had already been printed and remained on the ballot.(11) Despite that, he still received ten percent of the vote ! (12)
In the early 50's, Kopp pursued career commercial pilot employment with National Airlines, and moved his family to Miami, Florida, and was ultimately promoted to airline Captain.(13) His son, Wayne, at age 6 experienced his first airplane ride with his father in the Luscombe at Hybla Valley. Wayne followed in his father's footsteps and became a Captain for Eastern Airlines.(14)