Cincinnati Aviation Heritage Society & Museum

Preserving aviation's past for future generations.

Mt. Healthy Airport Stories

Ed Betz

I have been associated with Marsh Studios, Commercial Photographers in Cincinnati, since 1938. We did a great deal of aerial work, and we needed a place from which to fly.

There weren’t that many airports around, Mt. Healthy Airport was one of them and we needed someone to fly us around the western end of Cincinnati, such as Greenhills, Western Hills, and suburban areas, so we could take aerial photographs.

From the Mt. Airy water towers, on out to the airport, it was practically all farm land. When you got out to the airport in the late 40's, you were out in the country. This was not the suburb, this was country.

It took us about 45 min. to get to the Mt. Healthy Airport from downtown as it would later take us to get to the Boone County Airport, which really didn’t develop until 1954-55. I, Ed Betz, took practically all of the aerial photos of Mt. Healthy Airport. The one picture that most people associate with the airport, shows the buildings and the runway from the Colerain Ave. side. This photo was taken in 1947, and all the photos were taken during the week.

Aerial Photo of the Buildings at Mt. Healthy by Ed Betz

If you look at the picture, you can see what our interest were, on the buildings with the Mt. Healthy Airport painted on the roof of the main hanger, and not the runway, because there really wasn’t much of runway.

I made possibly 20 flights out of Mt. Healthy Airport. And when we’d come back in after an assignment or a shoot, we’d circle and say “Gee Whiz,” put the camera out and take a picture of the field. Many of these pictures were not planned. They were more of an afterthought, done on the spur of the moment. Back then we would take off, take pictures, then land. All they really wanted then, was who should we bill.

When you flew around in the air those days if was a novelty. Back then if you came back with a couple extra sheets of film, and it was sheets at that time, you had a film and you flew over, and took a picture. It was sort of a vanity thing. It’s like taking a snapshot today. Today everybody has a camera; they take pictures out of the window of the plane. They take pictures of airports all over the world. You didn’t do that back then.

I remember one young man, I wish I could remember his name, the one time in my life I was given a scare, and it was by him. He raised the airplane off the ground so quickly, so he could get a lot of lift. He got a lot of lift, and I was a little bit disturbed by it. He did get us around. He was a good pilot, or I wouldn’t be here to tell you.

We flew from Mt. Healthy airport up to Chillicothe to do some work for a paper co. This was back in 1947-48. We landed on sod up there and we had to refuel to get back here. It took us 2-3 hours to get over there, flying at 60-70 mph. That’s as fast a plane would go. It was a cabin plane, and the window opened down so when it dropped down you were open to the world.

 I do remember when we flew out of there one time. They were becoming concerned about being in the pattern of the Boone County Airport. The airport was about 45 min. from downtown. Today we do not consider Northgate Mall as being that far out.

American Airlines had its roots here in Cincinnati. It was the Old Riddle Airlines, and they converted over to American Airlines, prior to the war. The Cincinnati people were very strongly in favor of developing Watson Airport in Blue Ash, into our Commercial Airlines Airport. But when they went for congressional help, congress suggested that there’s a little airfield across the river that was built for the army air force. That’s what it was known as back then, that might be more economical to use.

I guess that’s when we still had fiscal responsibility. And that’s really how Boone County Airport started and developed. The question came up, would Northern Kentucky have developed, if it had not been for the airport. I say that’s the only reason the area

developed. I’m not trying to be facetious or difficult, but if everybody looks back, the fact of connection with Delta Airlines and the HUB they created there, brought people into this area from the Middle East and Asia.

Let’s face it, Honda is up in northern Ohio, Toyota is in Georgetown, Kentucky and Mitsubishi is in Mason. The development up and down the I-75 corridor helped the Asian automotive market. Brought about by what we call today, the Greater Cincinnati Airport.