Cincinnati Aviation Heritage Society & Museum

Preserving aviation's past for future generations.

Mt. Healthy Airport Stories

Phyllis Lierer (Mrs. Elmer)

 Elmer Lierer probably started in the airplane business in his early teens. He wouldn’t stay in school.  He’d go right from school to the airport. He’d do anything, such as washing planes, to hang around the airport. He lived right across the street at 3539 Springdale Road, in his parent’s house.

George South taught Elmer how to fly. South died three or four years ago and was in his eighties when he died. After South left, Carl Muhlberger owned the operation. Elmer mentioned that Carl was a barnstormer on the weekends. He would take his bi-plane and would be gone all weekend. Carl had a dog that would wait on the runway until Pop would come back. This dog knew the sound of Pop’s (Carl’s) engine, and the dog would run out and wait for Pop to come back. Carl would take five dollars for a ride in his plane.

It’s not easy to fly. Everybody says if you can drive a car, you can fly, but it’s not true. Elmer flew airplanes; he recovered airplanes; he repaired airplanes when they weren’t quite flyable, but he never flew a plane that he knew he could not fly. He never had a wreck. He did have a few emergency landings, but he never had a wreck. Elmer was serious about flying, and he could tell if a student was serious or just taking lessons on a lark.

I met Elmer when my ex-husband was learning to fly, and he needed experience in an aircraft to solo. My ex-husband met a man who knew Elmer that had Elmer’s Champ. Bill, my ex-husband, made a date to meet Elmer at the Clippard Airport in Colerain Township. Bill met Elmer there and took Elmer’s plane up. Bill was gone for quite a while.  That plane was Elmer’s baby, his Champ, good ole 84629.  It could still be flying.

Elmer got kind of worried as Bill was gone for quite a while. Bill was a little bit of a showoff, so Elmer called the Sharonville Airport (Blue Ash). He knew the fellow there and asked him if Elmer’s plane was there.  He said, “Yes.  Elmer said you tell him to bring it back right now.” Bill came back with it.

On the Colerain Avenue side, there were high wires and two big trees. You had to have enough height to take off to the east and land from the east to clear the wires and trees. It was pretty good on the other end for takeoffs and landings. There were only two hangers and a restaurant, but I don’t believe they were originally there. There was only one runway east and west.

When Elmer worked at the airport, they would get calls of planes down here and there. They couldn’t fly.  Maybe they needed an engine adjustment.  Elmer would go and fix them up and fly them back to the Mt. Healthy Airport. He was daring but he was always safe.

If a pilot was having trouble, you could always land at Mt. Healthy Airport for service on your plane. The problem would be taken care of, and then you could take off. On one flight, Elmer took off and the gas cap, no it was the oil cap, was not on it. It was an oversight and Elmer just made it back to the airport.

After flying, Elmer would drink a beer, and if you didn’t drink beer with him, he didn’t like you, but he never drank a beer before or during a flight.  Someone did do a little damage landing or something. They damaged their aircraft, and someone called the police, saying there was an accident at the Mt. Healthy Airport. In the meantime, this fellow who owned it knew the police would come out, so he took the aircraft and hid it in a hanger. The police came and said they heard that there was a call about a crash. Elmer told that story so many times, but told the police there was no crash here, when they came.

Joe Niehaus soloed in about five hours, when the GI Bill flying school was operating after World War II. There were male and female students, but most washed out. Some made it and some didn’t. On weekends people would come from miles around and

watch the planes and take rides. One time Elmer put a parachute on a dog and let the dog jump out. The dog came down perfectly, and later Elmer caught all kinds of cane.

During the 1937 flood, Lunken Airport, was going to go underwater. They wanted to fly some of their airplanes from there to Mt. Healthy Airport, but Elmer said they were running out of room. They just didn’t have room for all planes, but they did take some from Lunken.

The biggest plane that ever buzzed the Mt. Healthy Airport was a B-17. A friend Elmer knew was in the Air Force, Tom Oker. The ground shook and Elmer’s house shook. The plane was at tree top level. In fact, he almost clipped the trees by Elmer’s house.

Elmer was still active after Mt. Healthy Airport closed, and he went to Lakewood Airport. He was very close to many of the planes that took off from Lakwood. He also worked at Blue Ash Airport for Moose Glos. He worked at one or the other and also flew out of them all. Flying was his life.

Elmer was quite close to Moose Glos, and taught him quite a few things about airplanes. Elmer worked for Moose for awhile in 1957-58 at the Blue Ash Airport. Elmer couldn’t fly anymore.  He had lost an eye, but there were many people who would only have Elmer work on their planes.

Leonard Clippard use to fly out of Mt.Healthy Airport and kept his plane there until he had his own Clippard Airport. Leonard Clippard founded Clippard instruments many years ago. Elmer always worked on his planes when Clippard was at Mt. Healthy.

Elmer worked as a maintenance man at Clippard Instruments for twenty-three years before retiring.  Elmer passed away in December of 1996.