Airport History Print E-mail

In recent years airports have become less friendly places. Pilots and passengers are first met with long lines, security check points, and suspicion; with barbed wire and chain link, rather than the smiles and handshakes of days past. Gone are the days when a young boy could ride his bike out to the local airport and watch aircraft come and go, or trade his time with soap and sponge for a ride in the sky. Yes, those days are gone. Doubt me? Then ask yourself... How many Barnstormers do you know?

What if I were to tell you, that I know a few? And I know where you could meet some too?

Nestled in the sleepy little town of Limington, Maine is a gem. A small link with aviation's past, and heritage almost lost. A place where pilots can still go and spend time with people like themselves; people who love the feel of silk scarves and faded leather, of wings of rag, and tails that drag, and old engines that start with the barehanded swing of a propeller. A place where children young and old can still see, hear, smell, touch, and share the wonderful world of flight.

The place I am talking about is called Limington - Harmon Airport, a private public-use airport 30-min outside the city of Portland, with modern amenities and an old-time spirit. Equally suited to the busy business traveler, with his modern, time saving, flying machine; as it is to the crusty old barnstormer, with his slow flying, way-back machine.

In the mid-sixties, Stan Harmon, a locally born and raised Maine resident moved to Connecticut and started a building construction company. But, Stan and his wife, Shirley, longed to return to the rural Maine lifestyle. Always interested in aviation, Stan bought a small airplane and commuted to Maine on weekends until he was finally able to buy some Maine property. He founded Harmony Homes Development and started work on his own airport. Initially, the runway was short and unpaved but over time, Stan cut more trees and lengthened it. As interest grew from Stan's friends and other aviators, he hauled in more fill and improved the runway's surface. By 1973, Stan opened the airport to the public and built a large hangar and office. Stan then bought a couple of airplanes, hired a flight instructor, a mechanic, and Limington Harmon Airport was born.

Throughout the seventies business was good and aviation flourished; however, by the early 1980's double-digit inflation had killed the building trade and consequently Stan's business suffered. Due to the financial difficulties of running a small business, Stan was forced to seek a buyer for his airport. Two brothers, Rick and Ed Fitzgerald, raised enough money to buy the airport and tried to continue improving the buildings and the runway surface. The Fitzgeralds were somewhat underfinanced however and finally sold the airport to Les Haney in 1986. An executive at Coca Cola of New England, Les was financially able to improve the airport, paving the runway and taxiways and building 25 new hangars. As the economy improved, the business began to grow. Les offered full aircraft maintenance with minor and major repairs, both 80 and 100 octane fuel, aircraft rentals including a Cessna 150, 172, and an Aeronca Champ taildragger. A flight school was added with several instructors that helped build the pilot base at the airport with many new pilots buying their own aircraft.

After Les Haney retired from Coca Cola of New England, he was able to devote more time to the airport and Limington Harmon began to flourish with 65, or more airplanes based there year-round, plus many summer visitors, and transients. The flight school brought in many new students and created pilots that bought their own aircraft to be based at Limington. The airport hosted summer fly-ins with the help of active Experimental Aircraft Association, Chapter 141, based at the airport. The EAA Chapter also held monthly pancake breakfasts and Poker Runs that brought in pilots and community members, and gave everyone a chance to socialize on a regular basis.

Les Haney also continued Stan Harmon's dream of making the airport into an airpark where people could live on the airport with runway access. It is the dream of many pilots to be able to walk out their front door, get into their planes, and fly away to the destination of their choice. Currently, there are several homes with hangars bordering the runway and airport property as well as many new privately-owned hangars adjacent to the airport. The recent growth of airport homes and hangars has finally realized Stan Harmon's dream of creating an airpark. Stan would have been very pleased to see how the airport has grown and to know that his dream did come true.

From its early years of development to its present state, Limington Harmon Airport has grown from a small, unpaved strip to its present 3,000 foot paved state with paved taxiways, hangars, and airpark status.

Due to recent health problems, Les Haney reluctantly decided to sell the airport to its new owners Andrew Pomeroy and Mahmoud Kanj. Andrew and Mahmoud formed the Limington Airport Authority L.L.C. with the hope of revitalizing and developing Limington Harmon Airport. Their plan is to bring in modern amenities to the airport while retaining its small town community airport feel.