Perkins Restaurant Takes Flight in Moundsville
Frank Carolla & Tom James
By JIM COCHRAN
Among the photographs on the walls at the new Perkins Restaurant and Bakery in Moundsville are two which depict the early history of aviation in the city.
It just so happens that the view from the west room of the restaurant overlooks what was the former Langin Airfield. Local aviation historian Tom James has put together several photographs and superposed them on a photograph of the old Langin Field.
This creation is titled, "Aviators of the Golden Age Called Moundsville Home," and is in a 3- foot by 4-foot framed print of many of the famous pilots who visited Moundsville during the 12 years of Langin Field's operation.
In addition, there is a smaller framed print in the same room with the top photo showing Col. Charles Lindbergh landing at the airfield in 1927. At the bottom there is a photo of local dignitaries on hand to welcome Lindbergh.
Several months ago, James approached Frank Carolla, the owner of the Moundsville Perkins, to explain the significance of the restaurant's location being in direct line of sight of the former airfield which was West Virginia's first federally- supported airport. Carolla commissioned James to create the larger print.
"Mr. Carolla was particularly interested in this history, and myself and others who are aviation buffs thank him for wanting to display these reminders of Moundsville's history," James said.
James said Langin Field operated from 1921-32, and for the most part was the stopover for military planes traveling between Washington, D.C. and Dayton, Ohio.
"Moundsville was the halfway point between these two cities, it being 180 air miles from Washington and 220 air miles from Dayton, and since most of planes at that time carried fuel to get them 200 miles, Moundsville was the logical refueling stop," James said.
The aviation historian noted that the Moundsville site was chosen because of the level land available along the riverfront.
He said the field was named for 1st Lt. James J. Langin from Iowa who was stationed at the District of Columbia airfield known as Bolling.
"One of his duties was to scout landing sites for Model Airway, the first interstate of air traffic which was between Washington and San Francisco," James added. "Langin was also a law student at Georgetown University in Washington."
According to James, Langin died as the result of an air crash after the gas tank ruptured following a takeoff from Bolling. Following his death, some area residents agreed they would like the airstrip named in his honor.
Langin had spoken to the Moundsville Rotary Club on occasions.
It was through the insistence of the membership of the club that the military named the airstrip in Moundsville in his name.
The military was leasing the airstrip at the time from property owner Henry Compton.
James, who continues to do research on aviation in Moundsville, obtained copies of the old Moundsville Journal. He informed me this past week that from these newspapers he had obtained for additional information, including the fact that during a 10-month period that year, there were 450 landings at the airstrip.
Durig, an avid photographer, has taken many aerial photographs of Moundsville over the years.
Durig was on hand in 1927 when Lindbergh made a stop in Moundsville following his non-stop solo flight from New York to Paris.