The first airport in central Ohio, Norton Field was named for World War I pilot and star Ohio State University athlete Fred William Norton, a Columbus native. On July 2, 1918, Capt. Norton led the 27th "Eagle"Pursuit Squadron in one of the earliest significant American air engagements of World War I. He died from wounds after his Nieuport 28 was shot down in northern France less than three weeks later. Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker attended the dedication ceremonies for Norton Field on June 30, 1923, as Columbus received its first air mail delivery. Norton Field became the headquarters for the 308th Observation Squadron, made up of local reservists, many of whom were members of the Aero Club of Columbus that had lobbied for the establishment of the airport by the War Department.
Many of aviation's early notables, including Charles Lindbergh, William "Billy" Mitchell, and James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle, flew from Norton Field. Curtis LeMay, later Air Force Chief of Staff and head of Strategic Air Command, trained here in 1931-1932. Norton Field served as headquarters for the red forces in the 1929 Army Air Corps maneuvers. This mock war demonstrated the effectiveness of long-range bombing and aerial refueling as well as the first extensive use of radio in both air-to-air and air-to-ground communication. During World War II, Norton Field served as a pilot training field and refueling and overnight stop for Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs). It continued to operate as a general aviation field until its acreage was sold for residential development in the early 1950s.
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