West Chester Airport
[Compiled by Lee Marzke]
Brandywine Airport began in 1939 as West Chester Airport, a grass airfield in the countryside outside of the borough. In 1947, William B. Wilson purchased the airport. The main runway 9/27 was paved in the 1980's and a new terminal building was constructed. In 1982, the airport was renamed Brandywine Airport. In 1997, a group of pilots formed a non-profit organization to purchase the airport.
On the map
An early 1947 sectional shows Brandwine among many other small airports no longer here.
A dairy and Kelsey’s engine shop were the only things at West Chester Airport. R. L. Shannon (C-23326-40) and Paul W. Nelson (C-64666) were flight instructors. In John’s words, “Both of these gentlemen were the best pilots and instructors I have ever known in 50 years of flying.” The pics were taken in March of 1957 from N4103M, a PA-12 owned by Bob Shannon. John Trainor now lives in Arizona, and is known as “The Desert Flyer”
Two Grass Runways
There were originally two grass runways. The north-south runway was later sacrificed in the name of progress (now UPS, QVC and the American Helicopter Museum), while the east-west runway was kept and paved (see below).
1965: A Few Buildings
For many years, this is how the field looked from the ground.
1979: Surrounding Area Begins to Develop
In the 1970’s the area around West Chester Airport (renamed Brandywine Airport) began to be developed. Notice in this picture that U.S. Route 202 has been built, and that the Commodore Computer building (now QVC) is located near the North end of Runway 18-36 — off of the new Wilson Drive.
1985: Paved Runway
During the 1980’s, owner Bill Wilson improved the airport considerably. Runway 9/27, taxiway and ramps were paved, and the old trailor was replaced with a beautiful new terminal building. Mertz ran a maintenance shop in the main hangar, while the MBB Helicopter was located across the runway to the north.
1996: Poised For Change
Next, we see what Brandywine Airport looked like in 1996, just before it was sold by Bill Wilson.
Photo taken by David and Ken Nelson in their Piper Dakota.
Photo taken by Jennifer Miller aboard Piper Warrior N84176.
Soon after being purchased by a group of pilots, Brandywine Airport experienced growth in the form of the construction of 60 new hangars.
This is what the new T-hangars looked like just after Christmas, 1997.
1999: Making Progress
Note the existence of the new hangars on the south side of the airport. To the east of the runway (top left of photo) you’ll see a couple of brand new office buildings.
This photo in April 2004 shows the current airport after runway repainting with the new displaced thresholds, the additional 6th T-hangar closest to the main terminal, and the new NW corporate hangar on Airport Rd.
New Beacon installed near the end of July 2010 next to the existing AWOS. Beacon photo by L. Marzke