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Earliest York Airfield in 1914 along Dover Trolley Line

Notice of Free Aviation Exhibitions at Hilton Stop on the Dover Trolley Line (The York Daily, Saturday June 20, 1914)
Notice of Free Aviation Exhibitions at Hilton Stop on the Dover Trolley Line (The York Daily, Saturday June 20, 1914)

Aviator Eugene Heth vouched for the “first-rate flying field conditions with hanger” at Hilton Field along the Dover Trolley Line in York County. Heth was the pilot of a Wright Brothers Model B Flyer during several days of free flight demonstrations next to the Hilton Trolley Stop during June of 1914; as advertised in the Saturday June 20, 1914, issue of The York Daily. If you are reading this on the Ydr.com site, click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustrations in this post on the original YorkBlog site; since the ydr.com site will occasionally cut off important details in the cropping of illustrations.

Sam Evans contacted me after reading my post Curtiss Aeroplanes entertain York crowd during 1912.  Quoting Sam’s e-mail:

Researching an early Chicago business known as Berger Aviation Company. Eugene Heth was one of their pilots. His notes include a reference to a Hilton Field in York, Pennsylvania, as such “Hilton Field—first-rate flying field conditions with hanger. E. Heth, York, Penna. 6/21/14” A glowing review by Eugene. Most of his notes for other flying fields were not as flattering. Can you help with extra research on Hilton Field?

The research was relatively easy, especially with the June 21, 1914, date as a starting point. I quickly discovered several local newspaper articles and the ad. Two years earlier, in 1912, the first aviation meet in York County was held at the York Fairgrounds, where those Curtiss Aeroplanes were reported as the first planes seen in York. The York Motor Club sponsored that 1912 aviation meet, in which they charged admission.

The 1914 aviation meet was in the countryside, was FREE and was along the trolley line to Dover. If you guessed the York Railways Company, owner and operators of the trolleys, was the sponsor, you are correct. The flying field at Hilton, along the trolley line was yet another attraction to swell weekend trolley rider-ship; for the 1914 meet and future weekends, for riders hoping to catch glimpses of aerial barnstormers.

Hilton Field appears to be the name given the flying field by Aviator Eugene Heth. Early research does not support that as a local name. This airport appears to have been built by the York Railways Company on speculation; i.e. if we build it, they will come. This conclusion is based upon the contract for the appearance of Heth in the Wright Brothers passenger carrying aeroplane being closed less than a week before the meet; as reported in the June 16, 1914, issue of The York Daily:

AVIATOR WILL MAKE FLIGHTS NEAR YORK. J. S. Berger Closes Contract With Railways Company—Aviation Field at Hilton, Along Dover Line. J. S. Berger, of the Berger Aviation Company, of Chicago, yesterday closed a contract with the York Railways Company to hold an aviation meet at Hilton Station along the Dover Trolley Line, about three miles north of York. Flights will be made next Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 3, 4, and 5 o’clock. Hilton and Dover cars will carry Yorkers to the aviation field, which is on the property of George F. Motter. Mr. Berger stated last night that from three to six flights will be made each day. The Wright Brothers’ passenger carrying aeroplane will be will be used. Eugene Heth, who has a wide reputation as an aviator, will make the flights and on a number of his trips he will carry a passenger.

This is the first of several posts about Hilton Station and Hilton Field. Additional research is pending to pinpoint George F. Motter’s property boundaries in the vicinity of Hilton Station.

The Wright Brothers manufactured about 100 of their Model B Flyers between 1910 and 1914. They could carry one pilot and one passenger. These aeroplanes sold for $5,500; a lot of money over one-hundred years ago.

The picture of the Wright Brothers Model B Flyer is not very clear in the newspaper ad. This clearer photo is from the Library of Congress.

Wright Brothers Model B Flyer (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
Wright Brothers Model B Flyer (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

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