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Valley Aero Club has embarked on its most ambitious project in its 61 year history -- the first phase of a multi-phase project to renovate and improve the Henry Dora Memorial Community Hangar at James Clements Airport.

SPRUCING UP: Hangar at James Clements Airport Project Target

October 16, 2015       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Who was Henry Dora and why would we care about his old hangar, anyway?

Well, Sonny, I told the young whippersnapper who had the temerity to pose such an impertinent question, Henry Dora was Bay City's version of the Wright Brothers -- he was one of our pioneer flyers.

Yeah, so what, Grandpa?

It was Henry's mechanical ability that made it possible for Lionel DeRemer to fly the first plane here, at the North American Chemical Company farm field, formerly the Curtiss farm, where James Clements Airport is now located.

In 1912 Henry the mechanic became the area's second Early Bird.

"What's an Early Bird, Grandpa?"

Well, Sonny, the Early Birds were an organization of pioneer pilots who flew solo before Dec. 17, 1916 -- the date of America's entry into World War I; there were only 598 of them, and two were from Bay City, DeRemer and Dora.

Of course the early days of flying were crazy, as documented by Gerry Higgs in her book Aloft. Here's an example: DeRemer was pressed into service for a show at the Northeastern Michigan Fair in 1912 because a Cleveland pilot had damaged his plane.

DeRemer took off from the Curtiss farm, followed the railroad tracks to the fairgrounds but couldn't land because a herd of five elephants had gotten in the way. He put the craft down in a cornfield owned by John Sharpe. The farmer wanted $25 for damaged corn. DeRemer demurred, but Sharpe wouldn't release the plane until he paid.

Enough with the history, what's happening now at our historic airport?

Valley Aero Club has embarked on its most ambitious project in its 61 year history -- the first phase of a multi-phase project to renovate and improve the Henry Dora Memorial Community Hangar at James Clements Airport.

This phase includes repainting of the exterior of the hangar, replacement of missing glass panes and masonry work.

You are invited to call Charlie and Nancy Smith 989-892-4620 or 989-395-6544 to arrange a visit to James Clements Airport, 614 S. River Road, Bay City, to witness our progress and discuss the project.

After a series of highly successful Father's Day Fly-in Breakfasts, and with substantial support from the Clements Airport Foundation and the Dora Hangar Fund, both part of the Bay Area Community Foundation, Valley Aero Club continues its mission of supporting the James Clements Airport.



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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at carraroe@aol.com)

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