Lexington's First Airport

Historical Marker #2440 in Fayette County commemorates Halley Field, Lexington’s first airport, located on Meadowthorpe Farm.

Meadowthorpe was a well-known stock farm owned by Jacob Hostetter. A two-story Greek Revival house was built on the property around 1849. After his death in 1886, that farm was sold to William H. Cheppu, a well-known bookmaker. On April 28, 1892, in order to pay off a debt, he sold it to Colonel James E. Pepper, owner of the Pepper Distillery. He remodeled and enlarged the house, and, in 1892, added a new front gable which was inscribed “Meadowthorpe.

In 1898, the estate was deeded to Pepper’s wife, but after her accidental death in 1906, it was acquired by Dr. Samuel H. Halley, president and general manager of Fayette Tobacco Warehouse. He and his family lived there through the 1920s.

The first airport serving Lexington opened in the summer of 1927, with World War I ace Ted Kincannon as manager. Charles Lindbergh made arrangements with Kincannon to land there on March 28, 1928, with the stipulation that his arrival be kept secret. The seventeen-year-old Melvin Rhorer was recruited to mark the field for the landing and spend the night in the plane, as Lindburgh went to visit a friend, Dr. Scott D. Breckinridge. The secret leaked out overnight and the next morning there were three thousand people there to watch the plane take off.

Halley Field was host to air circuses, air shows, flight training, sight-seeing tours, and small airlines. Because it was only a level pasture surrounded by trees and telephone wires, it was a challenging place to land and take off.

In 1930, a new municipal airport was built on Newtown Pike, and Halley Field was abandoned in 1934. Meadowthorpe Farm was later sold to H. R. Taylor and reverted back to farmland. In 1949, however, developers began selling the property for building lots.

Images

Meadowthorpe

Meadowthorpe

Photo of the Meadowthorpe mansion and farm taken in 1898, when owned by distillery owner Col. James E. Pepper. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky View File Details Page

Air Climbers of America

Air Climbers of America

Photo of the Air Climbers of America taken in 1930. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky View File Details Page

Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh

Photo of Charles Lindbergh and dignitaries when he landed in Lexington in March 1928. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Becky Riddle, “Lexington's First Airport,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed July 24, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/619.
Tour navigation:  Previous | Tour Info | Next

Share this Story