Beacon Field Airport®


Elevation 249 feet, Fairfax County, Virginia          GPS 38º46'20.40"N :  77º4'54.07"W
Copyright 2010 Friends of Beacon Field Airport at City View and, no part of this website including sound or text content may be copied, reproduced or used for any other purpose without express written permission of the website owner.   Beacon Field Airport® is a registered trademark of the website owner.

The Year 2009 in Pictures
...and a fun one too !
slide show -- click on pic for stop, ff, rewind


November 2009

LAST MAN to fly out of Beacon Field FOUND !!

November 27, 2009, Kloten, Switzerland --   "The last landing at Beacon Field took place on October 14, 1962 at 4:58 PM. The aircraft was a Cessna 150 (N1189Y) which had departed from Teterboro, NJ,  two and a half hours earlier en-route to the Washington-Virginia (Baileys Crossroads) airport. Upon arrival in the Washington DC area, the pilot, an inexperienced 22 year-old alien, got confused and mistakenly landed on one of two intersecting runways not very far from the Pentagon.   After landing, the absence of other aircraft on the ramp and some light local surface traffic using the other runway were obvious signs that something had gone very wrong.

Scared of any consequence of his mistake, the pilot decided to get airborne swiftly.  He first got out of the plane, handed a dollar bill to a couple of youngsters, asking them to stop any crossing traffic on the intersecting runway during the ensuing takeoff, then hopped back into the Cessna, backtracked and took to the air again after 19 minutes ground time, never to be worried by the police, the FAA or any other threatening authority.  {editors note: this adventure occurred as tensions were rising over the Cuban Missile crisis}.    Within 40 minutes, he was safely on the ground again at the Washington Suburban airport (Laurel, MD) where he was told, upon describing the scene of his previous landing, that it had occurred at a decommissioned airport, by the name of Beacon Field.

Now this incident may be somewhat reminiscent of Mathias Rust's landing at  Moscow's Red Square in  1987.  But the difference is significant: The Red Square landing was deliberate, the {Beacon Field} landing merely accidental.   I should know:  I was the pilot !   "

-- Jean-Francois Didisheim



Since we launched the Beacon Field Airport website eighteen months ago, we have received many fascinating emails, letters, and photographs sharing memories of Beacon Field and the Groveton area.             

One of these wonderful emails came from Mr. Jean-Francois Didisheim,  born in Geneva, Switzerland,  who got his private pilot license in 1958.   In pursuit of his engineering degree with the Swiss Institute of Technology,   Mr. Didisheim was required to spend a number of months with an engineering  company as a trainee.  He chose Beechcraft in Witchita, Kansas,  and the year was 1962.    During his tenure at Beechcraft, he flew occasionally around Kansas.  

At the end of his training in mid-October 1962, he arrived in New York with a planned return home trip to Switzerland on a commercial flight.   Mr. Didisheim had a few days to explore the east coast before departure and rented the Cessna 150 at Teterboro to visit some distant family near Washington landing unintentionally at the closed  Beacon Field as he described above.   October 1962 was a tense and turbulent month in US history with USSR nuclear testing in Novaya Zemlya, U-2  flights over Cuba ,  and the looming Cuban Missile Crisis.    A heightened level of security and scrutiny of aviation activity ensued especially around the Washington metro area.     Despite all odds,  the young 007 Didisheim made a stealth landing and takeoff only to be heard from 47 years later !!

Mr. Didisheim has had a very successful 50+ year career flying single engine airplanes and gliders including aerobatics, some instructing, and instrument flight.

Now, Mr. Didishem says,  ". . . I only fly within Europe, mainly with a 1967 Bonanza. I am an unconditional fan of Wolfgang Langewiesche's book Stick & Rudder first printed in 1944. "  He also worked 26 years for SwissAir (this author's favorite airline before its dissolve in 2002) where he focused on cockpit specification in collaboration with Airbus and McDonnell-Douglas .

"And last but not least I am delighted to have recently rediscovered the Beacon Field Airport, albeit through the internet, and to have gotten in touch with some of its friends, many of whom I hope to meet one day in the not-too-distant future". 

 * * * *

For more memories of Beacon Field and tales of Barnstorming, Near-Misses,  click on Memories tab at left!!
Click to enlarge+
Click to enlarge +

October 2009

October 21, 2009,   South Kings Highway (Rt 633), Historic Beacon Field, VA  ---   The first Adopt A Highway Litter pickup on S. Kings Hwy between Harrison and Franklin Street was a HUGE success  !!!   

With the help of local business owners, Joe and Lisa Emrico (see the Salute on Joe's father) of Mount Vernon Masonry  in Alexandria, VA,   Beacon Field friends removed from the adjacent roadway areas more than 9 bags of litter weighing over 100 pounds !!!

Motorists waved and homeowners noted that they had never seen the trash picked up before.    It was a fun time, the weather was great, and Friends were amazed at the road side artifacts.  

VDOT is scheduled to install our signs soon designating the Beacon Field Airport support of the program.     

Beacon Field Airport
50th Anniversary Closing
Commemoration Ceremony

Mr. Harry P. Lehman thanks Ms. Linda Waller of Supervisor McKay's office

October 1, 2009, Historic Beacon Field, VA --  Friends of Beacon Field Airport met to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the closing of the airfield in 1959.     Notable attendees included  previous employees of Beacon Field,  Mr. Albert Steidel  and his younger brother Mr. Billy SteidelMr. Al Steidel was a 30 year career commercial pilot for Alleghany Air.   Also in attendance was Mr. Mayo Stuntz, a Fairfax County History Commissioner,  who has been a long time supporter of the effort to recognize Beacon Field.  He and his wife, Connie,  have written many books on the history of Fairfax County. 

Friends of Beacon Field were pleased to announce their acceptance into the Virginia Department of Transportation VDOT Adopt-A-Highway Program for the portion of South Kings Highway running from Harrison Lane to Franklin Street.      Friends agreed to perform litter pickup four times/year for two years.  

Certificates of Appreciation plaques were given to Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay and Staff with Ms. Linda Waller accepting, for their help with the dedication ceremony,   Beacon Starbucks Store Manager, Mr. Brandon Perkett, for his continuing support in preserving the history of Beacon Field,  and Mr. and Mrs. Joe Emrico for their unsurpassed efforts in promoting the significance of Beacon Field.

Mr. Lehman thanks Beacon Starbucks's' Manager, Mr. Brandon Perkett
Mr. Lehman expresses great appreciation for the efforts of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Emrico
L to R: Anna Marie Hicks, Mr. and Mrs. Mayo Stuntz (photo courtesy Anne Swanson)
Mr. Warren Trice and Mr. Edward Trice (back row with caps)
Mr. Al Steidel
Starbucks employee Mr. John Bangura graciously gave out free samples and coupons
September 2009

The 2nd Annual Franklin Street gathering of Friends of Beacon Field enjoyed beautiful clear skies, hospitality, lots of good food, and aviation comradeship.  Veteran pilots,  aerospace engineers, would-be pilots, and neighbors spent a Sunday afternoon sharing memorabilia and stories of long forgotten activities associated with Beacon Field in their backyards.

Mrs. Lisa Emrico and Ms. Margaret Nolan (Photo courtesy J. Emrico)
Emrico Family Memorabilia
Ms. Bettina Zirkle is an aspiring pilot with notable family history in aviation (photo courtesy J. Emrico)
Mr. Peter Q. Nyce
Mr. Peter Q. Nyce flew out of Beacon Field in the mid 1950's (photo courtesy J. Emrico)
Mr. Rodney Hampton
Mr. Rodney Hampton -- model airplane enthusiast (courtesy J. Emrico)
August 2009

Beacon Field Airport
Fairfax County Historic Marker
Dedication Ceremony

L to R: Harry P. Lehman, Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay, and the Honorable US Congressman Gerry Connolly
Historic Beacon Field, VA August 19, 2009 --Friends of Beacon Field Airport joined in with Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay,  Honorable US Congressman Gerry Connolly, and Harry P. Lehman to dedicate the Historic Marker at the site GPS coordinates 38º46'12.20"N :  77º4'58.33"W .      Master of Ceremony Supervisor McKay welcomed everyone to Groveton and introduced notable personalities in the crowd, Congressman Connolly spoke of the importance of airports in the County's history,  how much history is in Fairfax County,  and the importance of preserving this history, and Harry P. "Butch" Lehman who grew up at City View on the airport property provided a lively brief personal history and significance of the economic impact and pilot training that Beacon Field brought to the area.   Mr. Lehman pointed out that no other airport in the United States is named Beacon Field.

"Memory is the natural enemy of history.   Whether it be bad memory, no memory, faulty memory or created memory, loss of facts is a dangerous thing. We wanted to capture and record the Beacon history before it was lost - we have to do this with the marker and the website."
                                         --- Harry P. Lehman  (excerpt from dedication speech)

Photo Courtesy: Jack L. Hiller.  L to R:  Harry P. Lehman, Supv Jeff McKay, Congressman Gerry Connolly
Photo Courtesy: Jack L. Hiller. L to R: Harry P. Lehman, Supv Jeff McKay, Congressman Gerry Connolly
The three speakers unveiled the marker with the guidance of Mr. Jack Hiller, Fairfax County History Commission Marker Committee, Chairman.   The historic marker program started in January 1998 and is the highest level of recognition awarded by the History Commission .    Beacon Field Airport is the 26th marker approved by the commission.    The distinctive Fairfax County markers display the colors derived from George Washington's Fairfax Militia uniform.  
Early birds gathering for the dedication --Courtesy Mr. Dan Mancini
Courtesy Mr. Dan Mancini
Harry Lehman and members of the Groveton Community
Mrs. Linda Waller of Supv McKay's office and Mr. Jack Hiller of History Commission
Harry P. Lehman, US Congressman  Gerry Connolly, Anna Marie Hicks
L to R: Harry P. Lehman, US Congressman Gerry Connolly, and Anna Marie Hicks
The marker was installed the day before (in 95 degrees local temperature) by Paynes Lines and Signs of Bealeton using a crane truck to erect the heavy sign onto its post.    Marker installation was a significant task, using 250 pounds of concrete to secure the stanchion in the ground three feet deep.   The total height of the marker is over 10 feet.
Paynes Lines & Signs used a crane truck to erect the marker
Memorial Day Weekend 
May 2009

Friends of Beacon Field Airport enjoyed the Old Car Show hosted by the Merchants' Tire at Beacon Center.  Long time Groveton residents including Mr. Larry Bennett and Mr. Todd Izzett of Fairfax Limo specializing in Virginia winery tours
( brought their rides: 1937 Ford Custom Cabriolet and 1927 Ford Model T Roadster.   Many other beautiful hot rods and customs, Pontiac GTOs, 1956 and 1957 Chevys, and Corvettes drove in from around the region to participate.   

APRIL 2009

Friends of Beacon Field Airport invites everyone to visit the Starbucks at Beacon Center where five of our photos are on display !  

Click for Google Map
 Events 2008 -- Click here

Copyright 2010 Friends of Beacon Field Airport at City View and, no part of this website including sound or text content may be copied, reproduced or used for any other purpose without express written permission of the website owner.