Written by: Christine M. Irvin
The original Carrollton Airport was built in 1947 by Bill Hill for private use. The airport
covered 15.65 acres and had a 1,400 foot dirt runway. But, all that changed in 1966 when construction began on the Carroll County Airport. Governor James Rhodes had a vision for each of Ohio’s 88 counties to have their own airport. He pledged state funds to make that happen. The county got $100,000 from the state, and another $80,000 from local investments, to turn the former private airport into a county facility. By this time, Melvin and Frances Tolson owned the small Carrollton Airport. They donated the 15.65 acres and the original airport to the county. The Carroll County Airport Authority hired F. W. Ulrich of Cambridge as engineer for airport construction.
The airport was completed in 1967 and dedicated in an official ceremony on October 8, 1967. Governor Rhodes, along with other dignitaries, attended the ceremony. The airport was named Tolson Field in honor of Melvin and Francis Tolson who contributed land, money, equipment and time to make the airport a reality. The new 67.44 acre site included runways, hangar and terminal area, as well as parking.
The airport has gone through many changes over the years. New Ramp-a-ports, used to
store aircraft, were added in 1968. The runway was extended in 1974 to 4800 feet and a snack bar was added. A new 46 x 80 foot service hanger, with a 27-foot lean-to, capable of housing three aircraft at the same time, was completed in 1978. It was dedicated in memory of Glenn Brenneman, one of the men who played a major role in the early construction of the airport. Three 10,000-gallon fuel tanks were installed in 1981. In 2002 the airport included a full-service restaurant, six hangars, a fuel farm, a flight school, and an airplane maintenance shop. The ramp area was resurfaced in 2003. The runway was recently improved to meet federal aviation standards. In the process it was shifted slightly to the west of its original layout.
The current facility can accommodate both single and multi-engine aircraft. Plans are in the works for a fencing project to keep deer from grazing on grass along the sides of the runways. On the “wish list” is a complete terminal building to accommodate passengers and they embark and disembark from the planes. This would be especially helpful to accommodate the increase in air traffic and passengers since the recent expansion of local gas and oil fields.
The folks in Carroll County like to show off their airport. A short film, called “The Door to the World,” featuring 11 Ohio county airports, was made in 1968. The opening scene for the movie was shot at the Carroll County Airport. The airport has sponsored many “fly-ins” and air shows over the years. In 1970, pilots at the airport offered “penny-a-pound” rides during a weekend show to raise money for the facility. More than 1000 people took advantage of the rides which netted over $2300. They marked their 45th year in business in 2012. The airport is one of the few in the country where you can watch airplanes land and take off.
A visit to the airport wouldn’t be complete without getting a bite to eat at the Carroll County Airport Restaurant. Although it has changed hands many times over the years, it is still a family owned business that serves the airfield as well as the surrounding community and visitors to the area. Diners can watch the airplanes take off and land while enjoying a great meal – breakfast, lunch or dinner – with daily specials. Top off your meal with a piece of delicious homemade pie made by current owner Lisa McCort. The airplane-themed restaurant is equipped with FREE high-speed internet access and has a courtesy laptop that continually records and displays all current weather conditions. 253 Airport Road SE, 330-627-5250
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