Beacon Field Airport®

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Copyright 2010 Friends of Beacon Field Airport at City View and beaconfieldairport.com, 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 beaconfieldairport.com website owner.
 

Beacon Flier Salute !

Mr. William "Bob" Ashburn

 

Mr. William Robert "Bob" Ashburn and his wife Elizabeth "Betty" Ashburn worked as the Fixed Based Operator (FBO) at Beacon Field from 1931 until 1942 ( i).   With Bob as President and Betty as Secretary-Treasurer,  they entered into a formal business agreement with the airport owner, W.F.P. Reid,  to operate as Ashburn Flying Service on the airfield .    Mr. Ashburn received his CAA Instructor's rating  in 1934 and Flight Examiner Certification in 1938 ( ii)


He was also an astute innovative businessman with a knack for marketing and promoting his business.     US Route 1 (Richmond Highway) travelers were very familiar with the  Taylorcraft E-2 tilted onto its nose as an attention getter roadside advertisement for the airport (at left anchor pic).    Another example (at right) reported in 1937 by The Washington Post was possibly the first parachute jump from an Aeronca(iii).  In 1940 on the brink of WWII, the energetic Bob Ashburn and his Vice President for Operations, Jimmy Millan, appeared on the Frank Blair radio show "So You Want to Fly?"(iv) to promote aviation training under the Federal Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP).  



The Washington Post, April 16, 1937
Even when the Army ordered the halt to private flying on the east coast August 15, 1942, Ashburn Flying Service carried on temporarily moving training operations to Calverton, Virginia (v).  For 18 months, Mr. Ashburn continued to provide primary flight training on the leased 2,000 foot sod strip.
Photo Courtesy Ashburn Collection-- Hybla Valley Airport just over the nose of the Fairchild PT-26 (NC-9182) and the Mount Vernon Drive In Theater below the landing gear. Beacon Field can be seen at the center top.

After World War II,  the Ashburn Flying Service permanently relocated their business setting  their sites on airport ownership and acquired the Alexandria Airport at Hybla Valley from Mr. E. W. Robertson's Mount Vernon Airways  in 1945(vi).         Mr. Ashburn  made many improvements to the Hybla Valley field which had been previously occupied by the Navy Reserve during WWII for training(vii).      The field was considered one of the largest private fields in the area with four runways:  Runway 4 was  4800 x 150 feet (gravel), Runway 27 was 2100 x 200 feet (gravel),   Runway 16 :   3450 x 60 feet (bitumen), and Runway 36  was 3600 x 200 feet (gravel)(viii).    

The Ashburns envisioned Hybla Valley Airport becoming the regional light airplane center for the Washington Metro area.  A terminal area contained a restaurant and stone fireplace passenger lounge area with arcade and vending machines.  The grounds also had three large maintenance and storage hangars and a two story ground school facility.   Several fires reeked havoc on the Ashburn business but the resolute owners rebuilt promptly.

The five photographs below were taken for Ashburn Flying Services'  promotional materials.

Photo Courtesy Ashburn Collection-- Ground School Building at Hybla Valley Airport
 
Photo Courtesy of Ashburn Collection -- Airport Office at Hybla Valley Airport, circa 1950.
Photo Courtesy Ashburn Collection:   Hybla Valley Airport Gas Pit built and designed by Mr. Ashburn
Photo Courtesy Ashburn Collection: Hybla Valley Airport Gas Pit built and designed by Mr. Ashburn
Photo Courtesy Ashburn Collection-- Hybla Valley Airport Gas Pit designed and built by Mr. Bob Ashburn
 
Photo Courtesy Ashburn Collection-- Restaurant at Hybla Valley Airport (note Juke box and Coca-Cola cooler to the right of fireplace)
 


Mr.  Ashburn advertized his CAA approved flight training "Its Easy Learning to Fly at Ashburn" in national and local newspapers and magazines.  He offered day/evening classes of instruction including private, commercial, multi-engine, and instrument instruction catering to post WWII GI Bill candidates
(ix)

Esso featured Mr. Ashburn (above) in its spotlight on Aviation dealers in the September 1946 issue of Flying magazine.

As was customary for FBOs to make ends meet, he diversified into other business activities to promote the airport.   He introduced the Hybla Valley Speedway with the inaugural race on April 17th, 1949.


The Hybla Valley Speedway oval can be seen on the 1950 aerial in the Maps/Aerials tab at left.   The speedway is located where townhouses are built today near Lindberg drive. {Approximate center of the speedway oval is GPS 38.45.12.83N 77.05.44.14W  elevation 37ft.}

Harness racing, model airplane meets, and carnivals were frequent events.      He also served as Secretary  & Treasurer of theVirginia State Chapter of the National Aviation Trades Association. 

Mr. Ashburn retired from the aviation business when the airport closed April 4, 1956.(x)


 
Copyright 2010 Friends of Beacon Field Airport at City View and beaconfieldairport.com, 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 beaconfieldairport.com website owner.