Veterans group receives local history lesson from airport family

The Veterans Discussion Group at Partners in Prime received a lesson in local history this week as members of the Hogan family dropped by with a collection of photos dating back to the 1930s of what is now known as the Butler County Regional Airport Hogan Field.

Tom Hogan told the group that the founding of the airport can be traced back to the fall of 1928 when aviator Carl “Pop” Muhlberger, who had been set up in Newtown, was looking for a place of his own that wasn’t as close to Lunken Airport.

“When Carl came to Hamilton, he landed in the field near the Hogan Farm” near Bobmeyer and Gilmore roads, he said.

The fields were so muddy, however, that his plane got stuck and he had to keep it there until the ground froze.

By 1931, Muhlberger had a fleet of three bi-planes and one home-made monoplane, and Hogan’s uncles Joe and Bernie helped him maintain the airport.

The Hogan brothers bought their first airplane in 1932, and in that year, Muhlberger couldn’t afford to lease the land anymore, so the Hogan family traded some of their other farm land and took over operations.

In 1933, they had a close call when a tornado blew through the area and tore apart the barn they were using as a hangar. A plane inside, however, was untouched except for a 2-by-4 board that pierced one of the wings. The roof of the barn was found a quarter-mile away along some railroad tracks.

The following year, the Hogans dug into the sand in the fields to make their own cinder blocks and build a sturdy hangar.

They hosted the first airshow in 1935 featuring nationally-known stunt pilot Tex Rankin.

Hogan said that although a lot of people came to the show, they only made $5 profit.

By the time World War II rolled around, five of the six Hogan siblings — Joe, Bernie, Bill and Tom’s father Art, and their sister Kathy — became known around the country as “the Flying Hogans,” and assisted the war effort by teaching in the Civilian Pilot Training and Civil Air Patrol programs.

“We always called it ‘Hamilton Airport’ because when the FAA put their charts out, they wanted to indicate a city name,” Hogan said.

“About every 10 years there was a huge expansion of some sort,” Hogan said, “whether it was working on the runways or adding hangars.”

There are now 34 hangars and 300 airplanes based out of the airport. Hogan maintains a flight school there, and many of his siblings are pilots or otherwise engaged in the aviation industry.

The family sold the Airport to a government consortium in 1984 and the name changed to the Hamilton-Fairfield Airport. In 2000, it was changed to the Butler County Regional Airport, but a group of local pilots petitioned the county commission to add “Hogan Field” to the name.

When the request was declined, the Hogan family got involved in the effort and in 2002, Hogan Field was added at the end of the name.

The Veterans Discussion Group started meeting regularly in October 2001, and began keeping minutes in January the following year. They had been meeting twice a month, but at this week’s meeting voted to just meet monthly during June, July and August.

The next meeting will be May 17 when a representative from Community First Solutions will discuss its services.

There are no dues to be a part of the group. But they do take collect a dollar from each member to raise money for whatever causes come their way.

Recently, the group has contributed to the Partners In Prime Meals on Wheels program and to Shared Harvest food Bank, Cohen said.

You don’t even have to be a veteran, he said.

“We don’t just sit here talking about wars,” he said. “We talk about everything but sex.”

Politics is a frequent topic, he said, and the group likes to keep up with what’s going on in Hamilton, especially the positive stuff.

“We need to quit talking about the negative things,” he said. “Hamilton still has a lot to offer. If you look around, you see the city is on the right track.”