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ISSUE 36 - October 2008
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By Andy Heins, Contributing Editor & Photographer
Mt. Vernon, Ohio

1935 Waco YKC-S NC14620

Each year since 1992, the Labor Day weekend brings a tradition that those of us here in Ohio look forward to with anticipation. It is the annual Taildragger Fly-in at Red Stewart Airfield in scenic Waynesville, Ohio. Red Stewart Airfield was founded in 1946 by Emerson “Red” Stewart after he purchased a farm in rural Waynesville, Ohio. It was at this small piece of heaven that “Red” opened a flying school and offered instruction in Piper J-3 Cubs. The business soon grew and became a family operation with all his sons and grand children participating.

1938 Fairchild 24H NC244GA

Fast forward to Labor Day weekend 2008 and little has changed since 1946. The airstrip is still all grass and is still one of the few airports in Ohio where you can learn to fly tailwheel airplanes. They continue to offer instruction in two Piper J-3 Cubs, an Aeronca 7AC Champ, PT-17 Stearman, Citabria and a Pitts.

1939 Aeronca 65-C Chief N23971

The airport is owned and operated by Emerson “Cub” Stewart Jr. and his wife Cathy. Day to day business is handled by their daughter Sarah Palmer and the Chief Flight Instructor is their son, Emerson Stewart III. Maintenance is provided on the field and is the place to go if you fly antique aircraft. They are experts in fabric and frequently can be seen recovering an airplane in the shop.

1939 Bucker Bu. 131B NX317BJ

If you enjoy gliders, they also provide instruction and rides for those so inclined. On any given weekend you can expect the airport to be busy with all sorts of tailwheel and antique airplanes in the pattern.

1942 Boeing Stearman PT-17 NC510N

Each Labor Day weekend, the family hosts an airport appreciation day. On Saturday night they host a dinner paid for through donations only. Following the dinner, an airshow is performed.

1944 Taylorcraft DC0-65 NC46089

This year was no different with Emerson Stewart performing a deadstick routine in his Citabria, Jay Hodge performing unlimited aerobatics in his Yak, John Black flying his Decathelon in one of the smoothest routines ever seen, the venerable veteran Cliff Robinson in a Decathelon, Brett Hunter in his highly modified Pitts doing a routine ala Sean Tucker and finally Bill Leff in his North American AT-6G.

1945 Beechcraft C-45H N8640E

Bill is a traditional Oshkosh performer and does both a day routine and a night routine complete with flares and fireworks choreographed to music. The Grimes Light Flying Laboratory Beech 18 took to the skies and made a number of passes with all the lights turned on. This is the airplane that Grimes Lighting tested all their various products on and looks like a UFO or a Christmas tree, depending on your knowledge, with all the multi-colored blinking and flashing lights.

1946 Globe GC-1B Swift NC80749
After the show, you can visit any one of the many campsites abounding the airport to continue to talk airplanes well into the night.

Sunday morning the airport is hopping at first light with airplanes on dawn patrol as well as the smell of pancakes and sausage in the air. EAA Chapter 284 now takes over the festivities and provides a great breakfast and handles all the aircraft parking for those hungry aviators in search of a good cheap meal.
1948 Piper PA-17 Vagabond NC4643H
The sky is soon full with airplanes arriving from all directions. Parking literally stretched the entire length of the 3142x150 foot runway with a second row extending halfway down the field. The biggest attendance of course is tailwheel airplanes.
1991 Wittman Tailwind W NX130TW
Antiques, Classics, Warbirds and Homebuilts line the runway. Very few modern tricycle airplanes attend the gathering.
Avid Flyer N492MV
The best part is that the lineup is constantly changing throughout the day and so you garner plenty of exercise walking from end to end to see what new and interesting airplanes have arrived.
Bucker Bu. 131 NX31BU
As the Fly-in progresses, business as usual continues at the airport with the Cubs and Champ in the pattern and the Stearman hopping biplane rides.
Jenny N687CB
If you ever happen to be in southern Ohio during the Labor Day weekend or any weekend for that matter, this airport is worth visiting.
Nieuport 17 N177HP

Andy Heins
Contributing Editor & Photographer


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