Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Tomato Hill Airport

Tomato Hill Airport Observation Tower

You've probably ridden up Tomato Hill and know that its summit is the highest point in Leesburg. What you probably don’t know is that it was also the site of Leesburg's first airport. In 1928 Fred Briles a WW1 aviation mechanic and the local Packard dealer cleared a strip of land on the east side of the road and bought an Ox-Winkle biplane. He said he had to gun the plane on the dirt but there was no trouble taking off if you could get to the top of the hill.
This is an Ox Winkle similar to Ed Briles’s powered by a Curtis V8 Ox engine. Piloted from the rear seat it carried two passengers in the front. In 1929 a flying circus came to the strip with two Wacos and a Ford Tri-motor and gave rides for 50 cents. Amelia Earhart is known to have flown in several times.

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