Frank Trott (1915-2002) and brother Robert “Bob” Trott (1922-1981) learned to fly airplanes in the 1930s. Frank’s pilot license had a four-digit number, meaning he was an early licensed pilot. Prior to World War II, they created the Trott Brothers Airport on their Uncle Russell Cryderman’s farm outside Armada. They taught customers how to fly.
When drafted into the Army, they were assigned to teach pilots to fly fighter planes and B-25 bombers. After being discharged from the Army, they returned home and resumed operating the airport in Armada.
In 1945, flying in an open cockpit plane from the airfield in Armada, Frank flew Santa into the Borland Field located at the corner of Kidder and Hough Roads. The event was sponsored by the Almont Lions Club and was done for several years.
In 1947, Frank and Bob’s parents, Jesse F. Trott (1889-1956) and Anna Victoria McCann Trott (1897-1979), began looking for a more visible site for a new airport. They found a site on the west side of Van Dyke Road (M-53) north of Tubspring Road. The property ran westward from Van Dyke to Shoemaker Road. They purchased the farm land in December 1947. Jesse and Anne moved into the farm house on Shoemaker Road, north of Tubspring.
Over the next year, Frank and Bob constructed the new airport. It had two runways. One runway ran northeast to southwest at 2,500 feet and the other runway ran northwest to southeast and was 1,800 feet. The runways were laid out to avoid obstructions and take advantage of the prevailing winds. The runways were long enough to accommodate training planes, single-engine private planes, and smaller twin-engine planes. When the airport opened, the runways were grass but within the next year, the longer runway was paved and 2,300 feet long.
The airport had one airplane hanger, which could accommodate four planes – 124 feet long. The office building included a restaurant and observation deck. Anna Trott ran the restaurant. It had a full service repair shop run by Edrich Howe who was an aircraft engine mechanic. Mr. Howe also was a licensed commercial pilot with a multi-engine rating. Fueling facilities were available.
The airport offered flight training, aircraft sales and rental, and site seeing rides.
In the 1950, brother Larry joined the business. He had been working at Hurd Lock as a drill press operator.
After World War II, the federal government instituted the “GI Bill of Rights,” which paid for many forms of training including flight school. The airport was busy. It also did a brisk business selling and buying planes.
Frank also worked as a commercial pilot flying DC-3s for Republic Airlines. He also flew business trips for the Ligon Brothers using planes hangered at the airport.
The brothers routinely flew passengers to destinations throughout the state. Prior to the opening of the Mackinac Bridge, they would take hunters to the Upper Peninsula. The Zenders family, from Frankenmuth, would have the brothers pick up families and fly them to the restaurant for dinner and then fly them home.
In 1956, while returning from purchasing two new aircraft at an auction in Ohio, Jesse Trott was killed in a mid-air collision over the Pontiac Airport. A severe thunderstorm had caused Jesse to detour to the Pontiac Airport.
Lonnie Persly learned to fly at the airport. He later learned how to fly helicopters. After getting his helicopter license, Lonnie flew into the airport to show off the ’copter. Anna Trott was closing the restaurant and headed home, which was on the southwest corner of the airport. Lonnie offered her a ride in his helicopter and she accepted
Bob upgraded his pilot’s license to include an “Instructors Rating” for helicopters. He was the first person in Michigan to have this designation.
In the early to mid-1960s, the brothers sold the airport.
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or firstname.lastname@example.org or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.