Harri Emery Airport Exhibit to Open

By Kimberly Marcott Weinberg
Assistant Director of Communications and Marketing

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford will celebrate the campus’s history as Bradford’s original airport as part of celebrations for its 50th anniversary.

Today’s Pitt-Bradford is located on a tract of land that served as Harri Emery Airport from the 1920s until the Bradford Regional Airport was constructed in the early 1950s.

Pitt-Bradford retiree and local historian Linda Delaney has researched and curated an exhibit with the help of Bruce and Beverly Perry and Bernie Picklo.

The exhibit will open Tuesday as part of Founders’ Day events planned at Pitt-Bradford for its 50th anniversary and remain on display in the KOA Gallery in Blaisdell Hall through Oct. 6. The gallery is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday. Special hours are planned for Alumni and Family Weekend Oct. 4 through 6, when the exhibition will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

Delaney said the history of the airport first piqued her curiosity when she got a new office at Pitt-Bradford that happened to be in the original control tower and administration building for the airport.

Delaney said that several times each summer for the three or four years she was there, people would stop and come in and ask if they could take a brief tour of the building.

Delaney began asking family friend and longtime local pilot Ray Lewis about its history and became intrigued. Through Lewis, she got access to extensive scrapbooks kept by Joe Field, who was the final manager of Emery Airport.

The exhibit, which Delaney has been working on for several years, will feature rare photos from the scrapbooks, including a photo of crowds at the airport dedication in 1929 just months before the death of its namesake, local aviation pioneer Harri Emery.

The exhibit will also feature a video produced by Picklo with early film clips provided by the Bradford Landmark Society of planes taking off and landing at the airport. Also in the video are interviews with Lewis and local pilot Dick Stover; Sally Costik of the Bradford Landmark Society, who lives in the Emery House overlooking the airfield/campus; and Pitt-Bradford staff members Jeff Armstrong and Bonnie McMillen who grew up near the current campus and remember its time as an airfield.

Delaney is the author of “The Gamble for Glory in the World’s First Billion Dollar Oilfield.”

Pictured, the dedication of Harri Emery Airport in 1929. In the back center of the photo, a crowd watches the festivities from the viewing platform of the control tower and administration building, which is still in use by the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford today.

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