100 years ago, West Virginia native Louis Bennett founded the West Virginia Flying Corps and West Virginia Aircraft Company in Beech Bottom.
On Saturday, the air field was dedicated in his honor and in memory of Cadet Lambert who died there.
Congressman David McKinley’s family has a special connection to this air field. He says Louis Bennett brought innovation to the Ohio Valley at a time when aircraft technology was not present in the United States.
“What we want to do, if nothing else, is use it as an inspiration for people that don’t believe in the American dream anymore. This is emblematic of how the American dream came alive. It made jobs for so many people here and was lost only when Louis Bennett went to war and was killed in an aircraft accident,” said Rep. McKinley.
Lambert Memorial Park is located just off of West Virginia State Route 2 and commemorates the first Military Air Field in West Virginia, something many Beech Bottom residents did not even know was a part of their village’s history.
Because Louis Bennett could not convince the U.S. government that aviation was a worthwhile investment at the time, the West Virginia Flying Corp was short lived, but the memory of Bennett, Cadet Lambert, and the other military servicemen who once flew there will now live on for years to come.
“We’re here to honor the men, especially the ones who gave their life here, and that’s what it’s all about is to honor the veterans and the people that live their dreams here and serve their country here,” said Beech Bottom Mayor Becky Uhlly.
The park is accessible from the Brooke Pioneer Trail and will soon have a picnic table, bicycle rack, foot bridge, and display case.