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History & Architecture: Flying away to Bargersville Airport

Flying away to the Bargersville Airport. 1945-1950

The Bargersville Airport, operational after World War II, was owned by local men and one local veteran. Harold Ray, one of the owners, served with honor as a pilot in World War II.

Harold has lived in Union Township and White River Township his entire life. Harold, today, is still driving and attends Bluff Creek Christian Church. Recently, Harold celebrated a memorable event by receiving the opportunity to travel with the Indy Honor Flight to the U.S. capital with other veterans. Harold married Phyllis Miller, also of Union Township, Providence community. The couple raised three children, Steve, David and Tammy, all Center Grove High School graduates. Phyllis entered heaven recently after serving at Bluff Creek, Eli Lilly, the community and her family for many productive and memorable years. Phyllis will be remembered as a lady who loved people, loved music and dressed well.

Harold, along with Russell Rund, Abbie Deer, Wayne Gillette and Paul Miller owned Bargersville Airport located two miles north of the SR135/144 intersection on the Westside of State Road 135. The men were all from Union Township except Wayne who lived in the Franklin community.

The men purchased approximately 47 acres shortly after WWII from the Sedam family for airport use, a one-half mile runway suitable for smaller type planes. Harold stated that power lines were a problem for larger planes, especially during take-off as the runway ran east and west. Harold said in an interview that crop dusting, personal flights for enjoyment and training pilots was the main income source for the airport. Harold said many veterans returning from war were interested in learning how to fly. Larger planes would on occasion land at Bargersville airport with passengers. There is a story of one plane crashing at the airport and had to be hauled off by a semi-trailer for salvage. Russell Rund owned semi-trailers used for hauling farmer’s grain and other items. Harold said the airport was proud of its three planes.

Abbie was farmer. Paul at one time owned a gas station in Bargersville. Russell owned trucking business. Harold worked and retired from Eli Lilly and Company, was businesses man also.

Noble and Martha Utterback came into the picture when the family purchased the airport. Land was originally owned by Noble Utterback’s family (her mother was a Sedam).  The couple, upon purchasing the land, ceased to use it as airport. Bargersville airport closed near 1950.

I talked by phone with Bill Utterback, the son of Martha and Noble. Bill, living in Virginia had many memories of the airport. Bill, CGHS class of ’65, recalled working on the runway, hanger and general chores prior to the airport closing. Bill’s tasks included using a John Deere LA tractor pulling a homemade concrete roller on the runway. LA is a smaller tractor, similar to large lawn mowers currently used in our community. Recalled by Bill was large holes he and his father dug by hand, inserting steel rod to use as securing airplanes from thieves and high winds. A checker-board roof on the airplane hangar was also mentioned, a yellow and black color.

Bargersville is growing. Maybe it’s time for another airport? The land of the former airport is for sale – anyone ready to start another airport? Enjoy the memories.

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