Historic Souther Field turns 100!

Published 2:36 pm Wednesday, July 4, 2018

By Martin Steiner

AMERICUS — It’s official! On July 4, 1918, according to the front page “Americus to Observe Fourth,” one of three different Times-Recorder articles of the day that mention Souther Field, “It is expected that great crowds of visitors will be here … en masse to attend the formal opening of Souther Field.” These crowds gathered at an almost complete World War I Army Air Service training field north of Americus. Some rode a special shuttle train to “relieve congestion on the automobile highway.” This same article noted that “Business houses will close and business suspended in honor of festivities at Souther Field.” A list of these businesses followed.
Early accounts of the building of Souther Field are found in other Times-Recorder news articles. The Feb. 7, 1918, front page headline article, “Work on the Aviation Camp has Begun,” tells about the town meeting the afternoon before when local citizens heard details about the project. “Presided over by Mr. Frank Harrold, who has been one of the most active workers for the camp,” the meeting described the land acquisition, clearing and grading of the site, and installation of electric and telegraph lines. It was noted that the contract was about to be awarded and that 1,000 men working for eight weeks would then construct the camp.
A development group, the Historic Souther Field Innovation Team, the “I Team” has been formed to develop a special centennial event this fall to recognize the airport’s centennial as well as other ongoing history focused programs. This group is not involved in the operation of the airport. Developments so far include the design and development of the accompanying Historic Souther Field logo, visits to major aviation events across the country to secure aircraft, exhibits and other support, and developing local support for this centennial event and Historic Souther Field.
The Souther centennial aviation event is scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 21-22, 2018. Exhibits will include original and replica aircraft with an emphasis on World War I but will also include examples as early as a 1907 Georgia airplane through current models. Aircraft that represent the entire 100 years of Souther Field operations are expected. Other complementary exhibits are planned including aircraft engines, vehicles, uniforms, and equipment. There may even be a band or two!
Much more of the Souther Field history as well as news of the centennial plans, as they develop, may be found on the www.souther-field.com website. Inquiries and other messages may be emailed to marty@souther-field.com.