The Old 1935 Airport of Leelanau County: Northport, Michigan
This terrific old airport is located in Northport, near the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, 33 miles north of Traverse City.
It's named for Captain Clinton Fisk Woolsey, who was born and raised in Northport. Woolsey was an officer and pilot in the U.S. Air Force who piloted many flights, but the last one he would ever make was in February, 1927.
During a goodwill flight in South America, Woolsey and his co-pilot John Benton were killed when their plane crashed midair with another one near Buenos Aries. The collision didn't kill them, but what happened afterward did.
Co-pilot Benton did not have a parachute on, and Woolsey didn't want to bail out and leave him; so he attempted to land the plane as best he could. Meanwhile, the pilots in the other plane all parachuted out, while Woolsey and Benton scrambled to save themselves and the plane. Needless to say, they didn't succeed.
Woolsey was 32 years of age.
In 1935, Woolsey's dad, Byron, donated a chunk of land north of Northport to become the Woolsey Memorial Airport. Made from stone, this terminal is an eyecatcher.
One more note about Captain Woolsey – he was the one that came up with the idea of flying over the Atlantic Ocean. Woolsey was one of the flight instructors who trained Charles Lindbergh; Lindbergh succeeded in making Woolsey's dream a reality, when he made that historic flight in May 1927, three months after Woolsey died.
This little airport is an important episode in Michigan history and it's a definite roadtrip stop next time you're in the area!
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