Medina has played a small but active role in the history of aviation — from the Wright brothers to Apollo 13.

Who knew?

Miles Reed, Director of Operations for Medina Cable Access (MCA), the local cable channel, has  pulled together a variety of widely disparate strands from a variety of sources, and now tells the story in the newly opened Aviation Museum at the Medina Municipal Airport. The museum is housed in a new terminal which opened in August, 2010 and consists of  a collection of historic photographs which tell this remarkable story.

Reed also created a documentary about Medina’s role in aviation history titled, “The Sky’s the Limit”,  and composed the background music. The film can be viewed on MCA’s website, <medinatv.org>

Miles Reed

Medina’s aviation story begins in the early 20th century.  Medina businessman Amos Ives Root, founder of the A.I Root Company, became intrigued by stories about two Dayton brothers who were experimenting with flying.  He went to Dayton and introduced himself to Orville and Wilbur Wright.  Eventually, he played a role in one of their most important flights.

In 1904, Root rented a meadow — the Hoffman Prairie — near Dayton for a secret flight that turned out to be more significant than the Wrights’ first flight at Kitty Hawk.  At the North Carolina beach, the Wrights became airborne but had no control over where they landed.  On this flight, however, the Wrights, having perfected the rudder, were able to steer the plane, which gave them control.  It allowed them to land wherever they chose.

Photo of Wright Brothers at the Medina Aviation Museum

A.I Root described this ground-breaking flight in his company magazine “Gleanings in Bee Culture”.  (He originally submitted the story to “Scientific American” but it was rejected. The editors  called it “far-fetched.”)

A copy of that January 1905 issue  of “Gleanings in Bee Culture” is preserved in the Smithsonian.

Here’s a sampling of some other aviation history makers.

During World War II, Army pilot and Medina native Joe Zarney ferried General George Patton around Europe in his plane, “The Spirit of Medina”.

Bruce Hallock -- Medina Aviation Museum

Former WWII aviator, Bruce Hallock, became Lyndon Johnson’s private pilot and flew LBJ and other political notables around the country during John Kennedy’s presidential campaign,

Hallock fell in love with aviation when he first saw an airplane at a county fair.  As an engineering student at Case Institute of Technology (Now Case Western Reserve University) he flew one of his tailless models in a national contest and won first place in the category of original design.

After the War, he worked as an executive pilot and an aeronautical consultant and and designed several tailless planes, including the Road Wing and the Pterodactyl.

Medina’s glamorous James Bond connection came with a plane called the Acrostar, created at the Medina-based Bede Aircraft Corporation. In the film “Octopussy”, Bond flees from captivity by flying the sleek little Acrostar BD-5J  through the rapidly closing doors of a hangar. (The scene can be viewed on You Tube.)

Jim Bede, an aeronautical engineer, founded Bede Aircraft Corporation in 1961, after he left a position at North American Aviation.  His goal was to develop low cost plane kits for the home built market.  The Acrostar was designed so that the wings could be folded up, allowing it to be hauled in a trailer behind a car.

The Acrostar  BD-5J makes a brief appearance in another Bond film — “Die another Day” with Pierce Brosnan as Bond.  The plane also served as the Bud Lite jet for a number of years and appeared in television commercials.

Finally we come to Fred Haise Jr., the astronaut who flew as the lunar module pilot in the aborted Apollo 13 lunar mission in 1970. Haise was assigned to NASA’s Lewis Research Center in Cleveland from 1959 to 1963, during which time he lived in the Medina County area and made friends in the local aviation community.

These are only a few of the stories found within the museum. They present an aspect of Medina history not generally known outside the relatively small circle of aviation enthusiasts.

Medina Municipal Airport is located four miles east of the city on Rt. 18 —   and it is well worth a visit.

3 Responses to “Medina Flyboys”

  1. Jess Brown Says:

    I love the James Bond connection!

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