Butler County Aviation History
Compiled by Jim Blount
Friday and Saturday, July 12-13, 1912, were days to remember for many Hamilton residents and visitors. As advertised, "fancy flying and daredevil feats in the air" were performed by members of the Curtiss Exhibition Company during a two-day aviation show at the Butler County Fairgrounds. Flying the Curtiss biplanes were Lincoln Beachey and Charles F. Walsh, promoted as "the world's greatest birdmen."
Walsh was the first pilot to fly over Hamilton when he made a practice flight at 11:25 a.m. Friday, July 12, 1912 -- about eight and a half years after the Wright brothers first flights Dec. 17, 1903. "There were only a few people on the fairgrounds," the Journal said, as Walsh "soared for 10 minutes midst the clouds." He circled at altitudes of about 400 to 800 feet in the vicinity of the fairgrounds on the north edge of Hamilton.
The 25-year-old Beachey was the main attraction. By the summer of 1912 he was regarded as one of the nation's leading stunt pilots. Beachey had switched from balloons to airplanes in 1910 and became the star pilot of the Curtiss exhibition team, sponsored by aviation pioneer Glen Curtiss.
Beachey reached 8,200 feet on a 25-minute, 30-mile flight Friday. Walsh achieved about 7,500 feet the next day. The Journal reported about 5,000 people attended the Friday events.
Walsh, a 35-year-old San Diego native, died less than three months after the Hamilton event. He and Beachey were performing before 50,000 people at the Interstate Fairgrounds at Trenton, N. J., Oct. 3, 1912, when Walsh's engine stalled and his plane fell about 2,000 feet. Beachey also died during a show. March 14, 1915, the San Francisco native was performing a stunt over San Francisco Bay as part of the Panama Pacific International Exposition when a wing fell off his plane.
World War I Air Base Never Materialized
Military aviation was in its infancy when a location in Fairfield Township was considered as a base for the U. S. Army air service during World War I. The site was described in 1917 as about two miles west of Symmes City -- more commonly known as Symmes Corner -- and south of the road between Symmes City and Venice (Ross). Today, that field would be south of River Road and east of the Great Miami River in the City of Fairfield.
The inspection came six months after the United States had entered World War I against Germany. It would be another six months before U. S. airmen would fly in a combat zone in France.
"The location for the Hamilton aviation landing field has been chosen and now only awaits the approval of Major Peebles, commanding the Wilbur Wright Aviation Field," north of Dayton, said a Hamilton newspaper in October 1917.
Several days before the anticipated inspection, Mayor John A. Holzberger completed arrangements with Major Peebles, including a Hamilton flyover. The mayor announced that the city's fire bells would be rung to alert citizens of the approach of the army plane.
The alarm came at 8:45 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, 1917. "When the fire bells rung, the telephone exchanges were kept busy as to the cause," said the Journal. "Thousands of people kept an eye upon the sky" when it was realized the bells weren't related to a fire or disaster.
About an hour later, shortly before 10 a.m., the Journal said, "thousands of Hamilton people got their first near view of the giant battle planes of Uncle Sam's Army . . . soaring over the city."
Major Peebles -- in a plane named the "Black Maria" -- made several passes over Hamilton at about 3,500 feet and inspected the Symmes Corner site from the air before landing. The army major "did not indicate either its acceptance or rejection" before returning to his base in Dayton, said the newspaper report.
A positive announcement never came. Symmes Field or Hamilton Air Base never materialized during World War I or later.
Ford Airport opened in Hamilton in 1924
Mention Henry Ford and the name suggests a man with tremendous impact on the infant auto industry, including a plant his company opened in Hamilton in 1920. But Ford also is in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, and his varied flying ventures included operation of an airport in Hamilton in the 1920s.
Ford biographers note that Ford founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903, the same year the Wright brothers made the first controlled, powered flight. Their success aroused Ford's interest in aviation. In 1909, Henry Ford and his son, Edsel, built a plane with a Model T engine.
July 12, 1918 -- while the United States was involved in World War I -- Henry Ford announced he would build a tractor plant in Hamilton after the war. During the war, Ford was mass producing engines for U. S. aircraft.
In April 1920, the Hamilton Ford plant began operations, producing parts for Fordson tractors. Within months -- because cars where selling much faster than tractors -- the factory switched to making lock parts and wheels for Ford's popular Model T.
With the Ford plant came the Ford Airport on land north of the factory. The airport occupied part of a 500-acre tract south and east of the Great Miami River and west of the waterway of the Hamilton Hydraulic. The Ford airport was east of present North Third Street (U. S. 127) and west of Joe Nuxhall Blvd.
The airport opened with no fanfare in 1924 -- when Ford was increasing his involvement in aviation.
In 1925, Ford built the first experimental Ford Tri-Motor. A year later, with that plane powered by the first Wright Whirlwind engines, Ford's airplane manufacturing division became the world's largest producer of commercial aircraft.
Ford built nearly 200 Tri-Motors between 1926 and 1933. The plane had a range of 500 miles and could reach speeds as fast as 115 miles per hour.
Tri-Motors were frequent visitors to Hamilton's Ford Airport, including transporting Ford executives on trips to the local plant. Other Hamilton industries, especially the Champion Paper Company, took advantage of the field that was just minutes away from most local factories and offices.
Late in November 1929, Ford officials announced the airport would close Dec. 1, 1929, because the entire 500 acres had been leased to farmers. In reporting the closure, the Journal noted that "Ford field here has seen the planes of many famous aviators quartered on the runway at different times."
Nearly 11 months after the formal closing, planes were still landing at Ford field. Oct. 18, 1930, a plane carrying Orville Wright and Colonel E. A. Deeds of Dayton used the field. They came to Hamilton for a business meeting with George A. Rentschler Jr., president of the General Machinery Corporation.
After the closing, an adjacent portion of the Ford tract was still under consideration as the site for a Hamilton municipal airport. Those efforts -- led by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce -- continued into the early 1930s. The campaign was nullified by the Great Depression and the city's choice of the Ford land for new well fields for the Hamilton water system.
Hook Field in Middletown opened in 1924
What is now Hook Field had its origin in 1924 as a narrow mowed landing strip on a farm east of the Great Miami River and north of Middletown. The field, now owned by the City of Middletown, got a boost in 1940 when a successful aircraft company relocated to a site next to the airport.
In 1924, George J. Wedekind, who was associated with several early flying ventures in southwestern Ohio, was permitted by Sam Farnsworth to use part of his farm for takeoffs and landings. Within four years, according to George Crout, Middletown historian, Wedekind had "flown over 14,000 passengers without a mishap."
Wedekind had served 24 months as a flight instructor in the U. S. Army during World War I, including duty at the Second Aviation Instruction Center at Tours, France.
In 1925 the Middletown Airport Park Inc. was formed on the former Farnsworth, Smith and Wolverton farms under the leadership of David Harlan, president of the Crystal Tissue Co. Other Middletown civic leaders involved were J. A. Aull, William O. Barnitz, Charles R. Hook and George M. Verity. Charles B. Stiles was secretary of the group with George Wedekind as manager of flying services.
Interest in aviation increased in the 1920s. When the air age was still in its infancy, a world's altitude record (37,800 feet) was set in the skies over Butler County. Lt. John A. Macready established the mark while flying between Hamilton and Middletown Wednesday morning, Sept. 28, 1921. The highlight of the decade was Charles Lindbergh's historic 3,600-mile solo flight from New York to Paris May 21, 1927.
At the same time, local airports were struggling to pay their bills with proceeds from flight instructions, charter flights and freight service. Crout said the Middletown airport supplemented its income by "billboard rentals, sale of hay and rentals from airplane owners," plus selling some land for residential development.
The Great Depression, starting in 1929, put many small airports out of business in the 1930s, but a Cincinnati misfortune was a boon to Middletown aviation near the end of that decade. The January 1937 Ohio River flood swamped Cincinnati's Lunken Airport and the adjacent aircraft factory of the Aeronautical Corporation of America, formed in 1928.
The prospect of more floods, the availability of land adjacent to the Middletown airport and the alertness of the Middletown Industrial Commission convinced company officials to move to Middletown in 1940.
As part of the agreement, the airport was acquired by the City of Middletown, assuring the aircraft manufacturer that it would have a reliable air field as a neighbor, a necessity for its business.
The company, now Aeronca Inc., built popular light planes. Of 33 certificates of official world records issued by the National Aeronautic Association in 1936 for all categories, Aeronca C-2 and C-3 [models] held 12, and by 1937 Aeronca planes held 19 official world records for light planes," Crout noted.
The Middletown plant produced thousands of planes for the U. S. military during World War II. Aeronca's light aircraft performed a range of war duties -- from training student pilots and messenger service to scouting enemy positions and spotting for artillery.
Aeronca planes built in Middletown in the early 1940s included the Chief with a 50-horsepower engine. Crout said "this plane made a 2,785-mile non-stop cross-country flight in 30 hours at a speed of 91 miles an hour, and at a cost of less than one cent per miles."
Middletown's Hook Field is named in honor of Charles R. Hook (1880-1963), an Armco executive and Middletown civic leader. Hook served the steel company for 57 years, including 18 years as its president, 1930-1948.
Aeronca no longer builds complete airplanes, but it continues operations in Middletown next to Hook Field. For more than 50 years, the company has been a major subcontractor to the air and space industry
Butler County Regional Airport -Hogan Field traces origin to 1929
"Commercial Airport South of Hamilton Established," said a headline in the Thursday, March 28, 1929, edition of the Hamilton Journal. The article said C. R. Muhlberger had leased 115 acres of farm land from Robert Shank and Al Seevers along White City Park Road, a mile east of Dixie Highway, for "a commercial flying field where passengers may leave for all parts of the United States" and for "a school of aeronautics." That 1929 story heralded the start of what today is known as the Butler County Regional Airport-Hogan Field on Bobmeyer Road on the Hamilton-Fairfield border.
Muhlberger -- whose name also was spelled Muhlenberger in a city directory and Muhlberg elsewhere -- was president and general manager. The article said "grading of the field had begun" with operations expected to begin the next week (the first week in April 1929).
The newspaper said the airport "will be greeted by industrial executives and businessmen" because Muhlberger "proposes to use his ships [four planes] to transport small freight from home factories in Hamilton to cities where the need for the parts is imperative."
Muhlberger operated the airport until 1932, a Depression year, when ownership passed to the Hogan family. A Champion Papers publication in 1934 said Joseph Hogan, a carton maker at the North B Street mill in Hamilton, had started flying lessons under Muhlberger in 1929 and in April 1930 made his first solo flight. For several years, Hogan worked at the airport after completing his eight-hour shift at Champion.
"In 1932 he [Hogan, then 25] took over Muhlberg's interest and has operated the airport on his own since then," joined by "a younger brother, Bernard," reported Champion Activities. The article said Joe's planes included "the Waco which he operates for special sightseeing trips." That plane, it was later recalled, had cost him $350.
It was still a grass air strip as the Hogan brothers -- Joe, Bernie, Art and Bill -- took over the business that for 50 years was known as Hamilton Airport. The Hogan brothers, and later other family members, shared many responsibilities -- flight instruction, charter operations, freight service, air demonstrations and a range of flight and repair services.
By the late 1970s, the existence of privately-owned airports was threatened by burdens of increased costs of operation, the shortage of capital to pay for improvements and modernization, and the demands of federal regulations. An option was closing the airports and yielding to offers from developers who wanted the land for conversion to residential, business, industrial, warehousing or multiple uses.
The City of Hamilton initiated action to preserve the airport by studying the possibility of public ownership -- a move that would make the facility eligible for federal assistance through the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA saw Hamilton Airport as a "reliever" for increasing traffic at Cincinnati airports.
Aug. 31, 1984 -- after a few years of negotiations -- the Hogan family sold the 256-acre airport to Butler County and the cities of Hamilton and Fairfield. The purchase totaled nearly $2.5 million with $1.7 million provided by a FAA grant, and included a pledge of additional federal funds for airport upgades.
It was renamed the Hamilton-Fairfield Airport, under the control of a newly-created Butler County Regional Airport Authority, with the Hogans as operators until 1989.
During more than 20 years as a public facility, thanks to FAA support, the airport has realized numerous service and safety improvements, erection of a new terminal and has added acreage. It also has survived controversies involving operations, management, sharing local financial support and naming disputes.
July 13, 1999, the airport authority dissolved and transferred the property to the Butler County commissioners. The commission changed the name to Butler County Regional Airport to reflect its broader role in county-wide economic development.
In 2002, Hogan descendants and present and former airport users petitioned to add Hogan to its designation. County commissioners agreed to lengthen the name to Butler County Regional Airport-Hogan Field, and signage was revised in March 2003.
A proposed improvement is an eastern extension of Bobmeyer Road to connect to Ohio 4 Bypass for better airport access to and from Ohio 129 (the Fox Highway), Union Centre Boulevard and interstate highways.
Miami University Airport opened in 1943
Students arriving on the Miami University campus in Oxford in the fall of 1940 discovered a new opportunity in the academic offerings. Miami was among the schools that introduced pilot training that year, thanks to a federally-funded program designed for college students. The Civilian Pilot Training Program was a multi-purpose project of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration.
CPTP was a Depression-fighting measure aimed at helping the aviation industry, including economic boosts to operators of small airports. It also had a military objective -- produce a pool of young trained pilots to be available to the armed forces in case of war.
Miami University in Oxford launched its program in 1940 as a ground school under the direction of Eugene Albaugh. Don Schirmer, a 1938 graduate of Hamilton High School, was among the CPTP trainees at Miami. He recalled attending classes in Oxford until noon, then being driven to Middletown for flying lessons in the afternoon.
George (Pappy) Wedekind of the Queen City Flying Service directed flight instructions at Middletown Airport, using Aeronca and Luscombe trainers. Later, the CPTP also operated at Hamilton Airport under Joe Hogan.
For Schirmer -- later a successful Hamilton businessman and county commissioner -- the training led to service in the U. S. Air Corps from October 1942 through December 1945.
Schrimer piloted planes for the Air Transport Command (ATC), which had been established March 20, 1941, as the Air Corps Ferrying Command. The mission of the ferrying service, renamed the ATC June 20, 1943, was to fly new aircraft from factories in the U. S. to air bases in England.
Among other distinguished graduates of the Civilian Pilot Training Program was John Glenn. The future astronaut and Ohio senator, while a student at Muskingum College, learned to fly at an airport in New Philadelphia, Ohio.
The CPTP was the brainchild of Robert H. Hinckley, an original member of the Civil Aeronautics Authority. The CAA was created as an independent federal agency in 1938 by the Civil Aeronautics Act. The CAA was charged with promoting the development, safety and regulation of civil aeronautics.
With President Roosevelt's backing, Hinckley planned to boost the private flying business by annually teaching 20,000 college students to fly. Congress complied and the Civil Pilot Training Act became law June 17, 1939. By that fall, 404 colleges offered the program.
Later, the training also was extended to non students. By Jan. 1, 1941, the CAA reported 63,113 private pilots trained.
Miami's CPTP program was hampered by the lack of an airport in or near Oxford. That problem was solved in January 1942 with a $30,000 grant from the state for creation of a Miami University Airport. A 330-acre site was acquired west of Oxford between Fairfield, Riggs and Brookville roads.
A steel hangar was purchased and moved from the Mount Healthy Airport (now the site of Northgate Mall) at Colerain and Springdale roads in Hamilton County. The first plane landed at the Miami field Jan. 27, 1943. The airport was dedicated July 17, 1943.
Construction had started in May 1943 on a new hangar, named in honor of Ensign Lawrence A. Williams, who was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. Williams, an Oxford native and 1932 graduate of McGuffey High School, had earned a bachelor degree in architecture from Miami in 1936. He enlisted in naval air corps in 1940 and was a pilot of a scout plane on the battleship USS Arizona when he died.
Frederick Brant Rentschler earned nickname, "Horsepower"
Although his family has been prominent in Butler County business, industry and banking for more than a century, the exploits of Frederick Brant Rentschler are little known in his native area. He earned his place in the National Aviation Hall of Fame for aviation advances and contributions to national defense from World War I through the early years of the Cold War.
To students of flight development, his name is as familiar as Wright, Boeing, Martin, Sikorsky, Curtiss, Vought and other contemporaries.
Fame eluded Rentschler because he shunned daring stunts and didn't attach his name to a plane or the engines he perfected. His reputation was established backstage in drafting rooms, in shops and foundries and in board rooms -- not in a pilot's seat.
More familiar are some of the companies he formed or directed: United Airlines; Pratt &Whitney; Wright-Martin Corp.; Wright Aeronautical Corp.; United Aircraft Corp.; Hamilton Propeller Co.; Sikorsky, Chance Vought; and Hamilton Standard.
Although he wasn't involved in aviation until the age of 30, Rentschler earned the nickname "Horsepower" as a pioneer in development of the air-cooled engine, the helicopter and engines for jet bombers.
When posthumously inducted into the hall of fame in 1982, it was because he "was a pioneer in the development of reliable aircraft engines" and for "establishment of the first transcontinental airlines, helped manufacture the first practical helicopter and produced advance design propellers and other vital aircraft components."
He was born Nov. 8, 1887, in Hamilton, a son of George A. and Phoebe Schwab Rentschler. His brothers included Robert, who died while in college; Gordon, who became a prominent international banker; and George, who headed the General Machinery Corp. and later Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton. His sister, Helen, married Sidney D. Waldon, also an aviation pioneer as well as an officer of GMC and B-L-H in Hamilton.
Frederick Rentschler was graduated from Hamilton High School and Princeton University before starting his business career in Hamilton in 1909. That year, he joined the family-owned Republic Motor Car Co. that built Republic cars from 1908 until 1914.
When the auto company closed, he joined other family businesses, including work as a molder and machinist.
With American entry into World War I in 1917, he entered the U. S. Army, which utilized his industrial experience and knowledge of motors acquired while associated with the Republic. The 30-year-old first lieutenant was assigned to inspect the manufacture of European-designed aircraft engines in a Wright-Martin plant in New Brunswick, N. J.
The American company built the Hispano-Suiza engines under a French license until the Nov. 11, 1918, armistice caused cancellation of the contract and the collapse of Wright-Martin.
It was Rentschler's introduction to aviation -- his career for the remaining 39 years of his life.
"When we entered the war in 1917," he wrote later, U. S. "knowledge and experience in aviation was hopelessly behind that of any of the great powers."
Rentschler said "the importance attached to aviation in World War I was badly overplayed as a factor for winning the war. It was spectacular, it greatly added to the morale of the fighting forces, but actually the types of ships and conditions made it a comparatively impotent weapon."
Those observations -- and Rentschler's determination to correct the U. S. aviation deficiencies -- ended his plan to return to Hamilton after completing his military service.
Rentschler aircraft engines powered U. S. World War II aerial superiority
When Frederick B. Renstchler formed the Wright Aeronautical Corp. in 1919, his intention was to develop engines and aircraft that would establish the United States as a world leader in aviation technology. With $3 million in capital -- a Wright-Martin residual -- he founded the new firm to design and build improved aircraft engines.
He inherited some engineers and other employees from defunct Wright-Martin and began operations in rented facilities in Paterson, N. J.
Rentschler -- with engineer Charles L. Lawrence -- produced air-cooled engines to replace bulkier liquid-cooled power plants.
Known as the Whirlwind, the 225-horsepower engine was in army and navy planes by 1924.
America's first high-powered, air-cooled radial engine helped American flyers establish record-setting flights in the 1920s and 1930s.
Rentschler and Chance Vought, a plane designer, combined forces to develop aircraft for the U. S. Navy. This led to his departure from Wright and formation of a new company, the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Corp., in 1925.
That same year his engineers built a new light weight 425-horsepower engine that became the standard power in Vought's Corsair, fighter planes built by William F. Boeing, and commercial and private aircraft.
The new engine was named the Wasp by Faye Belden Rentschler, the Hamilton woman who had become his wife July 25, 1921.
In 1928 Rentschler ventured into flight operations, forming United Aircraft and Transport Corp. in cooperation with Vought and Boeing. That company -- later known as United Airlines -- completed the first coast-to-coast passenger network in March 1928.
In the 1930s, Rentschler committed Pratt & Whitney to helicopter experimentation. In 1939, an associate, Igor Sikorsky, designed and built the prototype for the modern helicopter. Although about 400 served in World War II, it wasn't until the 1950-53 Korean War that the helicopter came into common military use.
But horsepower was always Rentschler's priority, and it became his nickname.
In the four years of World War II, 1941-45, Pratt & Whitney manufactured 137,436 engines. Time magazine said the company and licensees "furnished half of all U. S. piston horsepower flown in the war."
World War II aircraft powered by these engines included the B-24 Liberator bomber (about 18,100 built); the B-26 Marauder bomber (about 5,150); the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter (about 15,600); and the C-47 Skytrain transport (about 11,000).
After the war, Rentschler turned his attention to developing jet engines, once again striving to help the U. S. close the gap in the international aircraft competition.
The result was the J-57 jet engine in 1953 which powered the first B-52 Stratofortress in 1954. Those original global bombers of the 1950s remained in use into the 1970s. Later more sophisticated versions of the B-52 served in the 1991 Gulf War, where they "delivered 40 percent of all the weapons dropped by coalition forces," according to the U. S. Air Force. They also were deployed in reaction to 2001 terrorist attacks.
When Frederick Rentschler died April 25, 1956, the New York Times editorialized that "his outstanding qualities of balance and judgment, combined with a lifetime of technical and business experience, made his contributions to the United States aircraft industry -- and to the security of the nation -- major and lasting."
Evidence of his success had come earlier, in 1951, when a Time magazine cover story declared that Rentschler "has probably done as much for U. S. aviation as anyone since the Wright brothers."
Sidney Dunn Waldon developed and assembled World War I air force
The Walden Ponds Golf Club and housing development in Fairfield Township suggests Henry David Thoreau and his woodland house on Walden Pond in Concord, Mass. Instead, the tract northeast of Hamilton once was the pastoral residence of a Waldon, spelled with an o, not an e. He was Sidney Dunn Waldon, often called Colonel Waldon because of his brief, but distinguished service in World War I.
He was born in London Jan. 29, 1873, and educated in England. He moved to the United States in 1892 and became a naturalized citizen. His early business associations included Cooper Iron Works, Mt. Vernon, Ohio; Ball Engine Co., Erie, Pa.; Foster Auto Co., Rochester, N. Y.; Cadillac Motor Car Co., Detroit; and Packard Motor Co., Warren, Ohio, and Detroit. His civic contributions to the Detroit area and Michigan were numerous, most involving highway and transportation projects.
When it appeared World War I would involve the U. S., Waldon resigned as vice president and general manager of Packard to become a captain in the signal corps, the army branch that included the air service.
Waldon also was appointed to the United States Aircraft Production Board (APB) that was responsible for developing and assembling an air force almost from scratch. According to one report, the army had 142 obsolete planes and only 12 expert pilots when the U. S. entered the war in April 1917. His aviation interest was traced to meeting the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, in 1913.
Waldon became the assistant to Colonel Edward A. Deeds, a Dayton industrialist and inventor, who was chief of the APB. During the war, Deeds worked in the U. S. while Waldon handled details in France, directing formation of air fields and equipping and supplying the air corps. With their background in the auto industry, Deeds and Waldon encouraged American car builders to develop an engine to power World War I planes.
The most significant effort was the Liberty engine, designed by automotive engineers in about a week in May 1917, and authorized by the APB in June. Waldon was credited as being one of the designers.
"Designed to be mass-produced with interchangeable parts, the Liberty became the standard wartime aircraft engine," according to a Centennial of Flight web site. "More than 13,000 engines came off the assembly line before the armistice" Nov. 11, 1918. They were produced by auto companies -- Packard, Lincoln, Ford, Buick, Cadillac, Nordyke and Marmon.
Between wars, Waldon was involved in the auto and aviation industries, promoted the building of local, regional and national road systems and headed the Detroit Street Railway Commission.
At the start of World War II, Waldon brought his engineering skills to Hamilton. He was a director and treasurer of the General Machinery Corp., and an officer of its associated companies, the Niles Tool Works and the Hooven, Owens, Rentschler Corp., all based at 545 North Third Street.
He helped direct the war-time expansion of General Machinery facilities and its varied war output. One of its products was another Liberty engine. This one powered the Liberty ships that hauled cargo to U. S. and allied forces.
June 27, 1928, Waldon had married Helen Rentschler, his second wife. She was a sister of George A. Rentschler, who in 1945 was president of the General Machinery Corp.; Frederick B. Rentschler, chairman of United Aircraft Corp., Hartford, Conn.; and Gordon S. Rentschler, chairman of the National City Bank of New York.
The couple resided at their estate, Pine Knob, near Detroit, until moving to the Hamilton area in 1941. They occupied the former Gordon S. Rentschler estate, northeast of Hamilton and east of Ohio 4 and Millikin Road in Fairfield Township.
Colonel Waldon, then 72, died Saturday, Jan. 20, 1945, at the Rentschler Farm. His funeral was held at the home. Edward Deeds and Orville Wright were among the honorary pallbearers as Waldon was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Hamilton. Mrs. Waldon resided at the 349-acre Rentschler Farm until her death Sept. 10, 1967.
The Walden Ponds housing and golf complex -- constructed on the former Rentschler property -- opened in June 1997. Previous owners had called it Maplewood. The Rentschlers and Waldons called it The Farm. Butler County Aviation History