ROYAL AIRPORT

2100-2500 West Broadway

 

Twelve years of pioneering aeronautical activity and historic events were centered on a field that is now the site of South Towne Mall. The airfield known originally as Pennco Field was created from part of the McCauley farm, located between the Dane Country Fairgrounds and the Yahara River. It was later named Royal Airport. In the early part of the 1920s, adventurous pilots went "barnstorming" around the country with WWI surplus "Jenny" planes, using farmers' fields for landing. Howard Morey made a forced landing in a field near Madison in December,1925. He called his wife's cousin, E. N Quinn, who drove out to get him and help tie down the plane. In May the following year Madison officials asked Morey to drop flowers over Lake Mendota as part of a Memorial Day service. From that time on Morey call Madison home. Morey taught Quinn to fly and together they operated a business including landing field and hangars, flying schools, and aeronautical stunt shows. Later they established the first regular commercial air traffic from Wisconsin to Chicago and regular contract air mail service for Madison. The first hangar was built in 1926 by Madison Airways Co. It was a Trachte company metal building, 100 feet wide, that could shelter 17 planes.

 

Royal Airways Corporation, formed in 1927. Quinn and the late Don Anderson, publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal, persuaded Colonel Charles H. Lindbergh to come to Madison. On August 22, 1927, just three months after he had conquered the Atlantic, Lindbergh flew in and housed his historic plane, the "Spirit of St. Louis", in the hangar at Royal Airport. On November 23, 1927, air mail contract service was inaugurated in Madison, with the first flight leaving Royal Airport carrying 15,000 letters. A few years later the advent of the large transport planes made Royal's facilities inadequate, and the City of Madison purchased 290 acres north of the city. Difficulties in developing the marshy area during the depression caused Madison to suspend efforts there. So the city leased Royal Airport for its municipal field for $2,000 per year, and provided lighting and improvements. Royal Airport continued to serve Madison until 1938 when the new Municipal Airport was finally completed and opened with Howard Morey as manager.

Wisconsin Historical Images ID#35120

Charles Lindbergh's plane, Spirit of St. Louis, parked in the hangar at Royal Airport

Wisconsin Historical Images ID#7423