Deedie Kramer, Dover Bureau
Cheswold -- Floyd Durham bought his first airplane 17 years
ago -- before he knew how to fly.
just always wanted a plane," he explains. "Then I had to hunt
around for someone to teach me how to fly it."
Durham's an expert flyer now, has seven planes, and owns and
operates the Delaware Air Park near Cheswold, the largest
private airfield in Kent County.
It may be that his air park will shortly be the home of the
Dover Air Trans, Inc., for a daily shuttle service between
Dover and Newark, N.J. If that service goes in, it will be
the only regularly scheduled air service out of Dover.'
Durham and Everett R. Hamrick, president of the Dover Air
Trans, said last week that a starting date for flights hasn't
been set, but they are hopeful it will be this fall.
The airfield started 10 years ago as a backyard landing strip,
but Durham found so many fellow plane owners begging for a
place to board their planes that in 1960 he converted his
private strip into a public one.
There are 32 planes boarding there now.
Besides the airplane hotel business, Durham offers flying
lessons and an air-taxi service at the park. There's also
a neat brick terminal which is open 24 hours a day for pilots
There are coffee, sandwich and candy dispensing machines in
the lounge, comfortable chairs, a pool table and plenty of
A new wing provides office space.
Durham said the 2,850-foot, unpaved runway is lighted at nights
so planes can land at the field. He said there is not landing
Planes from many places land at his park, and Durham said
in one day he could have planes from California, Colorado
and West Virginia in and out of his airport.
seems as though Dover people don't use the air park as much
as people from other places do," he said. "They come here
in their planes to visit somebody, find out our strip is here,
and land. I have lots of local people come out here to meet
friends and tell me they didn't know the strip was here."
This spring, when the idea of a Kent County airport was being
tossed about, some people suggested having Durham's park for
county airport is a dead issue now," said Durham. "I don't
know whether it would have helped me or hurt me."
A Kent County airport is out of the picture at present because
of insufficient county funds.
Seven different deeds give Durham ownership to the 50 acres
in the park. He made the land purchases in bundles as small
as three acres and as large as 14, he said.
first idea was to have a small air strip and a place for a
few nice homes for people who like flying," Durham said. "But
now the strip has take up the home plots. There's land left
but it's too close to the strip for homes."
Durham, born in Dover and raised on a farm near Cheswold,
suffered from a bone illness as a teenager. While taking treatment
at a Philadelphia hospital, he attended high school in that
city until the illness forced him to quit school in his junior
He says he's a Moor. They are people around Cheswold who trace
their ancestors to a clouded mingling of Delaware settlers
great-grandfather was Irish. That's about all I know about
my ancestors," he said. "He married a Moor girl but it's been
so long that nobody really knows about the Moors and where
they came from. And when some of the old ones were still around
and could have told me, I wasn't interested. Now I'd wished
Delaware, airport to be sold to state
By D.L. Bonar, Staff writer
Delaware State News 2/14/99
- Delaware Air Park, a privately-owned airport in Cheswold,
will be sold to the state.
Gov. Thomas R. Carper has signed SB 32, which will allow the
sale to be completed and the Delaware River and Bay Authority
to operate both the Cheswold airport and the John B. Wallace
Civil Air Terminal at Dover Air Force Base.
The measure also clears the way for completion of paving at
the civil air facility, which will result in 16 additional
acres of parking space to handle the overflow crowd of airplanes
which fly-in to the civil air terminal during NASCAR races
twice a year.
Construction on the expanded apron for parking airplanes will
be completed by June, Gov. Carper said.
"This legislation provides the potential for new economic
development in Kent County through improved air accessibility
and enhancements to the area's transportation infrastructure,"
Gov. Carper said. "By strengthening air access to Kent
County, we hope to increase business opportunities in the
"The management of the terminal by the DRBA brings greater
value to the Aeropark," said Daniel Wolfensberger, executive
director of the Central Delaware Economic Development Council.
"Business executives today want to fly - companies have
their own aircraft and they need facilities that can accommodate
''Additionally, we expect a growing aircraft presence during
the three (also including an IRL race in July) big race weekends
in Dover each year," Mr. Wolfensberger said.
Delaware Air Park in Cheswold is an existing airport that
is now used by hobbyists, single-and double-engine pilots
and the Delaware State University aviation science program.
The airport will require substantial upgrades to make it a
more viable and well used facility. The airport will be purchased
by the Delaware Department of Transportation who will in turn
lease it to DRBA for their management.
"Under management by DRBA, we anticipate that the air
park will be brought up to speed as we head into the next
century," said Delaware Economic Development Director
Darrell J. Minott.
Additional provisions of SB 32 include $3 million for expansion
and renovation of Sussex Technical High School to build new
classrooms, improve library and parking facilities and complete
several other repairs and renovations, the governor said.
In addition, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources
and Environmental Control will be authorized to complete the
design of a bikeway at Cape Henlopen State Park by the end
of June which will connect the northern and southern facilities
at the state park, which is located east of the Lewes-Rehoboth
Canal in Sussex County.