Not One, but Two Forgotten Airports

Martin Airport

Martin Airport was located where Macon and Berclair roads are now. In 1946, Lee W. Martin and his son Lyle Martin pooled their money and purchased 109 acres of prime flat grassland in the area of Berclair Street and Macon. The acres housed 4 hangers and shop building initially, then additional hangers were constructed. The property was exactly 1.5 miles north of the intersection of Summer Avenue and Berclair Street, on property once owned by Hancock English. At one time Mr. English owned 1000 acres of what is the area of Macon, Perkins and Berclair. There they constructed an 1800-foot grass turf runway. Both of the Martins had commercial pilot licenses and Lyle had been an American Airlines pilot. Flying lessons were taught to private pilot trainees, and the father and son team were dealers for several popular aircraft. In 1959 the land was sold to Sam Dattel and Milton Angel. You might recognize those names because there are streets named for them in the area. This real estate duo with the Margolin brothers developed the land into 242 homes, known as Macon Villa. There was also a strip of land set aside for a grocery store and related shops. In the late 1940 and 50’s Martin Field was a very busy small airport.

Thanks to the Shelby County Archives for the 1959 overhead map.
In the middle 1920’s Bry’s Department Store in Memphis Tennessee sold just about anything you could possibly want, including airplanes! If you bought a plane there was no real place to take off or land. That was until Colonel Edward M Solomon, the Manager at Bry’s and a well know at the time supporter of worthy causes in Memphis, got together with retired Army aviator, Lt. Jessie Windham, and W T Dawkins.

Colonel Edward M Solomon
Dawkins supplied the money to build the New Bry’s Landing field, located on the northwest corner of Jackson Avenue and Warford. Approximately 268 acres was purchased. The actual property was 3,339 feet long and 2,615 feet wide. A 2900-foot N/S runway was built along with 4 large hangers, a control tower and several other buildings. A baseball field and a large playground were also built. This was the first time US Postal Mail Planes landed in Memphis. Passenger flights were brand new thing in the 20’s. Four U.S. mail planes entered and left each day. This was the first airport in Memphis. Bry’s Airport operated from May 8, 1927, to April 1932. In 1932 land was purchased for the Memphis Municipal Airport. Velsicol Chemical bought the Bry’s property in 1947.
Bry’s Airport

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