(What do you know about McEnnan Airport, an airport south of Ypsilanti that is now closed?)


Robert Mittendorf, former B-24 test pilot and part-time flight instructor at McEnnan from 1943-1960, props an Aeronca Champion for a student in front of the airport office. (Marian Mittendorf photo)

McEnnans land in Florida, 1955. Standing in front of their Navion:  Jim, Ted, Bob (in western shirts), Leil and Eddy.

Ypsilanti Press clipping, Jan 7, 1958

Ann Arbor News clipping  June, 1958

Piper Cub at gas pumps, in front of large maintenance hanger. Small apartment is on far right. Photo is from 'Abandoned Airfields', captioned "A July-November 1959 photo (courtesy of Neil McLain)..."

Poker Night at McEnnan's-- L-R: Gene Armstrong, Leil McEnnan, Joe Mueller, Eddy McEnnan (glasses, sitting), Bob Mittendorf, Marty Evans

McEnnan Airport, south of Ypsilanti, was located at 5820 Stony Creek Road, just north of Textile Road, on the site of the current Pine View Golf Course. It operated from 1940 until the early 1970’s.

 The airport was developed and operated by Eddy McEnnan, who had been a local barber. He and his wife Leil, and sons Jim, Bob and Ted, lived in the large farmhouse that was on the property. During the war years, Eddy operated these aircraft, for instruction, charter and rental:

  • ·         1939 Piper Cub J3 NC25796 (50 hp Franklin)
  • ·         1939 Piper Cub J3 NC26102 (50 hp Franklin)
  • ·         1942 Aeronca Chief NC36578 (65 hp Continental)

The airport operation really ‘took off’ after WW2, with lots of young men using their GI Bill for flight instruction. Eddy acquired four new trainers, and subsequent aircraft:

  • ·         1946 Aeronca Champion NC82029 (65 hp Continental)
  • ·         1946 Aeronca Champion NC83836 (65 hp Continental)
  • ·         1946 Aeronca Champion NC1307E (65 hp Continental)
  • ·         1946 Aeronca Champion NC2817E (65 hp Continental)
  • ·         1947 Cessna 140 NC4189N (85 hp Continental)
  • ·         1950 Emigh Trojan NC8343H (90 hp Continental)
  • ·         Ryan Navion, Eddy’s personal airplane (details unknown)

 Near the road was a tiny standalone airport office building with potbelly stove, Coke cooler, pinball machine and a small candy counter. A narrow room in back contained shelves of pilot log books. Gas pumps were just outside the office. Several rows of tee-hangers surrounded the east end of field. A large maintenance hanger was located at the just to the south of the ‘ramp’ area. There was an apartment built onto the west side of this building, usually rented by some young couple. The airport dog named 'Strut' was usually patrolling or lounging about the premises. The runways were sod, mowed with a Ford 8N tractor with a side sickle bar. In the winter, when the runways were snow-covered, skis were mounted to the Champs.

In this postwar period, the airport was a busy social hub with a large core group--with spirited Saturday night poker games, trips to the harness-racing tracks in someone’s ancient 1925 Lincoln Phaeton and picnic parties in the CCC jackpines that bounded the west end of the airport.

 In June 1957, the Ypsilanti Press reported this:

"Mr. McEnnan had operated the airport on Stony Creek Road since April 7, 1940. Formerly a local barber, he became interested in flying in 1935 when he attended the Detroit Aviation Show. He learned to fly and, with 16 other young men in the Ypsilanti area, purchased his first Piper Cub plane from Al Bennett, basing his plane at the old Ypsilanti Airport on US-23. At first he operated with limited capital and was forced to augment his income from flying with money he earned as a barber. During 1936-1939 Mr. McEnnan bought and sold six small aircraft and during this time most of the 16 original students became licensed pilots. In 1938, he received his instructor’s license and his school included 40 or more students.

With his business expanding, in 1940 Mr. McEnnan entered into an unusual lease with Robert Beal and began the development of McEnnan Airport. It was agreed that the rental for the land would be calculated on the basis of the price of 2250 pounds of pork and 1228 pounds of beef. The property now includes lighted runways, hangers and an office equipped with Unicom two way radio.

Since 1936 Mr. McEnnan has soloed over 900 students and he has chalked up over 19,000 hours in the air. During World War II, he served as commander of Ypsilanti squadron, Civil Air Patrol. Sixteen of his former students are now captains on various airlines."

 In June 1957, McEnnan purchased a motel and gas station in Florida. He sold the airport operation to Richard L. Gordon, who had success in the hydraulics industry. The airport was then managed by Gordon’s young son Lance. Over the next couple years, three of the four Champs were replaced. In addition to Champ 2817E, Gordon operated:

  • ·         1946 Aeronca Champion N2064E (65 hp Continental)
  • ·         1957 Piper Cub PA-18 N7176D (135 hp Continental)
  • ·         Piper Cub PA-18 N2760 (details unknown)
  • ·         1947 Bellanca Cruisair N47411 (150 hp Franklin)
  • ·         Cessna 170 (details unknown)
  • 1959 Cessna 150 N5673E (100 hp Continental O-200)

  • 1959 Cessna 150 Nxx80R? (100 hp Continental O-200)

In June 1958, Lance Gordon escaped death when his restored WW2 open-cockpit trainer, a Ryan PT-22, crashed and wound up upside down in the intersection of Textile and Stony Creek Road. Gordon fully recovered.  

Gordon Aviation classified ad from the May 1, 1965 edition of the Detroit Free Press.

Gordon’s operation at McEnnan Airport was very successful. In 1966 he moved “Gordon Aviation” to the larger, busier Ann Arbor Municipal airport. Gordon’s new location was a slick, modern facility that included a Piper dealership.

 After 1966, McEnnan Airport continued in operation (by someone?). In the late sixties the University of Michigan Flying Club operated from McEnnan Airport. Perhaps someone else can provide details of McEnnan Airport after 1966. The airport closed in the early 70’s, when it was redeveloped into the golf course.