NORTH DANSVILLE — If someone is very lucky they get to leave a mark on this world, and that mark creates positive ripples throughout time.
Dansville-native Lynn Pickard was one of these people.
Pickard’s love for aviation is what sparked the need to build the Dansville Airport in 1927. This love lives on today within the walls of the airport nestled in the northwest edge of the village.
Town Clerk Timothy Wolfanger said the board has been working with a company outside of Syracuse named Calocerinos and Spina Companies for many years now. This company helps with designs for the airport.
“They (C&S Companies) are engineers that are in charge of design and oversee projects,” Wolfanger said. “They work closely with the Federal Aviation Administration.”
Wolfanger mentioned the Dansville Airport still has many clubs and organizations that use the facility.
Livingston County Historian Amie Alden talked with Genesee Country Express about the unique history that surrounds the airport.
“Pickard was pivotal in the growth and development of the airport,” she said. “I think it is one of the earlier ones in the state. The flats area is a nice and open area for the airport.”
The area is very beautiful for gliders, Alden said.
“People like the Genesee Valley. It is off the beaten path,” she said. “You get the beauty of the valley, and the change of weather.”
Pickard spent most of his life caring for his dream child, and images of him in his aviation uniform were held in high regard at the airport. In 1976, eight years after his death, the airport was officially known as Pickards Field. Pickard was a WWI pilot in the Air Corps. He never lost his wings.
Pickard was the manager for 20 years and formed training for Navy aviation during WWII. The first major renovation occurred in 1940 with a lighted field and installing 24 hour communication in the Hanger Tower.
The first plane landed in Dansville in 1911 that attracted thousands of people. Walter Johnson put on quite a show. This sparked a community interest in having an airport.
Over the decades work has been done on constructing and improving the runways and building.
Dansville Pilots Association and Finger Lakes Soaring Club keeps the dream alive.
The Dansville Pilots Association, Incorporated (DPA), was formed in the late 1960's to promote general aviation, flying safety, and Dansville Municipal Airport. The DPA helped develop a master plan and obtain federal funds for improvement of the local airport. Both runways were resurfaced, a windsock was installed in the center of the airfield, runway lights were updated, VASI systems were installed, a VOR approach was established, approach paths were cleared, an AWOS system was installed, and the airfield was fenced-in. The DPA continues to promote improvements at Dansville Municipal Airport.
The Finger Lakes Soaring Club, Inc., was founded in 1949 in Batavia as the Rochester Soaring Club. In 1963 the club moved to Dansville while renovations were underway at the Batavia Airport.
They soon learned that conditions for soaring were much better at Dansville and have been here ever since. In 1994 the club officially made Dansville their permanent home and changed the name to Finger Lakes Soaring Club. The club erected a 60' by 100' hangar that is used to house the 6 gliders, two towplanes and one golf cart that are owned by the club. The new building also provides space for maintenance of club equipment, and storage for some of the more than 15 gliders privately owned by members.
Anyone interested in learning to soar, or wanting to just take a glider ride are encouraged to stop by the FLSC hangar, located on the east side of the airport in front of Mathews Bus Co, or call 585-335-5849. The best time is Saturday or Sunday during the season, which runs from April through November.