It all started with Vern Finzer’s love of aviation and his vision for the future; that one day Naperville would lead the way for transportation to go from cars to airplanes.
So in 1953, he, Harold White and Al Beidelman began the Naper Aero Club, as a way to share their passion of flying with others and grow the field of aviation right in their own backyard.
“They formed an air scout troop where people could learn to fly, namely men at that time, and many of us were like myself were able to go on and find a career in aviation and they really fostered this, Harold and my dad and the other airline pilots that were in the area were out here instructing and teaching to fly and giving them an opportunity to expand their careers in aviation,” said Mel Finzer, Vern’s son.
Through the small private airport, and flying clubs, Vern’s idea took flight with others and continues today.
“No other country has the general aviation freedom that we have here in the U.S. and Naper Aero is just an extension of that same thought process, where people love flying, they love airplanes, they love aviation, the freedom it presents and they brought it closer into their lives-building homes on a facility that has taxiways, hangers and runways, and that’s what we are, we love flying, all of us” said Michael Pastore, Vice President and Resident of the Naper Aero Club.
To experience it first hand, I strapped in and took off in Pastore’s personal airplane to see what it’s all about.
It’s a view those along Aero Drive can see often-with resident’s houses right off the runway and most with an attached hanger, they’re motto is- ‘why drive when you can fly!’
“I took off this morning about 6 a.m. with a thermos of coffee in my airplane and flew and watched the sunrise with a cup of coffee, it was great. People use the aircraft for business if they travel for work, maybe they want to be in Iowa or Minneapolis or south Carolina, they can keep the airplane in their hangers and use that and its all part of the general utility and the freedom of general aviation,” said Pastore.
But you don’t have to have your own plane or be a resident to take off with this hobby. Through the Aero Clubs two flying clubs several locals have become aviators themselves.
“Many of the houses have changed hands, too and hopefully you can introduce some of them to flying and get them interested, and that has happened and we have several generations of pilots out here too where their parents have flown and now they’re flying,” said Suzette Selig, secretary and resident of Naper Aero Club.
Handing down their love of reaching new heights just as Vern did when he acted on his passion for flight.
“It will always be very special, that his dream of an airport is still here and are able to still enjoy aviation in a manner that he would have appreciated, its very special,” said Finzer.
Naperville News 17’s Alyssa Bochenek reports.
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