Groundbreaking set for Ernie Hall aviation museum

HOWLAND – A museum to recognize aviation and local aviators is scheduled to open later this summer at the SLOAS Airfield property, 4059 North River Road.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be 2 p.m. Saturday for the Ernie Hall Aviation Museum. After the groundbreaking, the public can go into the SLOAS hangar to the cockpit pilots clubhouse to see the memorabilia on display and to learn more about the museum plans.

Bill Griffin, chairman of the Ernie Hall Aviation Museum board of directors, said the $160,000 project is scheduled to begin in early March for an August completion.

”The aviation museum will be a replica of the Ernie Hall hangar that was in Trumbull County … We are so thrilled to be breaking ground for the new facility. We hope everyone will find a few minutes to celebrate with us, ” Griffin said.

The 50 – by 75 -foot building will house Ernie Hall memorabilia along with other aviation items from the military, general aviation and different airlines. The museum will honor local aviators’ contributions to advancing the field. When complete, the facility will be a replication of the hangar at the Hall Flying School, which was relocated to Trumbull County in the early 1920s.

Griffin said the Ernie Hall Aviation Museum was founded in 2014 to recognize the contributions made by U.S. aviators in advancing aeronautics, particularly those with local ties. The museum will display aviation artifacts and collectibles, in addition to promoting education through lectures, gatherings, tours and other events. Griffin said most of the funds for the project come from donations.

Ernie Hall was born in 1890 in Trumbull County and first flew with the Wright Brothers in 1909.

In 1915, Hall opened the Hall Flying School in Conneaut Lake, Pa. During World War I, he trained pilots at the Curtiss School of Aviation in Virginia, followed by the Call Field in Texas. After World War I, Hall settled in Warren, where he established The Hall Flying School at his airfield on Route 46, east of Warren. He operated the school continuously until his death in 1972, except during the time he was appointed by the governor to serve as Ohio Aeronautics Director.

Hall is believed to be the first man continuously employed in aviation for more than 50 years.

The museum is expected to host its first major event, Wings-n-Wheels, on Aug. 9 and 10. The event is a fly-in / drive-in featuring classic cars, motorcycles, tractors and private airplanes. Griffin said more than 150 airplanes are expected for the fundraiser for the museum and the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County.

“Our area has a rich aviation history beginning with aviation pioneer Ernie Hall. It is important that we preserve artifacts, photographs, and in some cases airplanes while providing educational and recreational opportunities for people of all ages.” board member and secretary Bill Hunter said.

Currently, Griffin has a collection of his own airplane memorabilia including planes at the SLOAS Airport where he first began to learn to fly when the Sloas family operated the airport. The museum will be located on western side of the SLOAS Airport property which has a single, 2,300-foot grass and sod runway for single-engine and ultralight aircraft.

He said plans are to see if anyone would like to donate airplane-related items to the museum in addition to what is already collected. Recently members of the Howland Historical Society toured the building where there were replicas of the Hall’s hangar as well as many photos and memorabilia.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com