Undoubtedly, the most noteworthy event to occur at PACC was the founding of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) in the late 1930’s. Today, the AOPA is “the largest, most influential aviation association in the world”, and reports its number of members at over 400,000.
On the second floor of the PACC clubhouse is a room designated as the “AOPA Board Room”. This is where the AOPA Board of Trustees continues to conduct its official annual meeting. Additional information about the founding of the AOPA is available on the AOPA’s History and Mission web page.
Other history of PACC comes from the 1984 Member Handbook:
The Philadelphia Aviation Country Club was founded in March 1931 by a group of local residents all of whom were prominent in aviation circles. The original club house, which is still in use, was converted from an old farm dwelling and became the home of the P.A.C.C. when Wings Corporation of Camden, New Jersey, purchased the entire farm which is now Wings Field.
The organizing members included Captain Donald W. Darby, U.S.N.R., who was the first President, John Story Smith, Francis Lieber, Laurence P. Sharples, Francisco Valdes, W. Wallace Kellett, Marshall E. Reis, and C. T. Ludington.
During the 1930’s there were a number of associated aviation clubs in other cities such as Los Angeles, California; Hicksville, New York and Cleveland, Ohio. Reciprocal privileges were extended to various club members and it was originally anticipated that the idea of associated clubs, should be expanded throughout the country. These plans were, however, interrupted by World War II which severely curtailed all civil aviation. During the War, a restricted zone was created along the Eastern Seaboard which curtailed all flights except for defense purpose, and this resulted in closing down of P.A.C.C., although the club house was used in the latter part of the War for an aviation ground school and navigation classes.
In the late 1940’s, P.A.C.C. was reactivated and the club house reopened after extensive repairs and alterations. In this period of the Club’s history, flying activity was a primary concern with annual air regattas a regular fixture of the club for members and guests. Some of the most active members in the rejuvenation of the Club were Guy Miller, Rutherford Aikin, G. Harrison Frazier, Ignatius Sargent, George Pew, Edgar S. Davis, J. H. Swartz, John Bromley, Francis Lieber, Howard Hagar, James M. Riddle, and William L. O’Hey. While non-flying members began to assume a more active part in the Club’s operations, these men were largely responsible for adding the patio terrace and bar wing in 1948, which enabled the Club to increase its membership.
In January 1965 a fire necessitated the temporary closing down of operations, because of extensive damage to the kitchen and bar areas.
From 1965 until 1977 the club facilities were being leased on a short term basis. This implied that the P.A.C.C. would either have to purchase the club property or move to a new location on a relatively short notice. By remaining at the existing location extensive rehabilitation would be mandatory.
Based on a study by the Long Range Planning Committee, a Bond Issue was instituted in 1970 to provide funds for either a removal to another location or for undertaking extensive modifications and improvements to the existing structure.
In 1976 it became evident that the club would either have to move to another location or obtain a more favorable long-term lease. After lengthy discussions with the new owners of Wings Field, and after several surveys of possible new locations, the Board of Governors was successful in obtaining a long term lease.
With a permanent home it was decided to commission an architect who would submit plans and specifications for interior and exterior improvements to the facility, and in any event, retain as much as possible of the charm and comfort of the existing club-house. As a result a new, larger, modern kitchen was installed. The dining and bar areas were modified and refurbished and a new cloak room was added. In addition the old concrete tennis court was converted to an excellent all-weather court. To complete the “country club” atmosphere the swimming pool was equipped with a new filter system. Finally a new terrace was installed together with landscaping.
It goes without saying that the period of 1965 to the present time has involved dedicated work on the part of the Board of Governors and executives of the Club. At the present time we enjoy attractive facilities, completely air-conditioned to provide year round comfort for our members.
Past Presidents of the Philadelphia Aviation Country Club
- 1931 – 1932 Donald W. Darby (Captain USNR Air Retired)
- 1932 – 1948 John Story Smith
- 1948 – 1950 Rutherford Eakin
- 1950 – 1952 George T. Pew
- 1952 – 1954 John H. Swartz
- 1954 – 1955 Rutherford Eakin
- 1955 – 1957 G. Harrison Frazier, Jr.
- 1957 – 1959 John Bromley, Jr.
- 1959 – 1960 William L. O’Hey, Jr.
- 1960 – 1962 G. Harrison Frazier, Jr.
- 1962 – 1963 Francis Lieber
- 1963 – 1965 Joseph S. Rambo, Jr.
- 1965 – 1965 John Bromley, Jr.
- 1965 – 1967 Richard Jenkins
- 1967 – 1969 Morton H. Fetterolf, Jr.
- 1969 – 1971 Dr. Harry Cullumbine
- 1971 – 1972 William A. B. Paul, Jr.
- 1972 – 1974 John H. Haig
- 1974 – 1976 William W. Wister
- 1976 – 1978 Rudolph S. Baizley
- 1978 – 1980 Alonzo R. Horsey
- 1980 – 1982 John G. Hendrickson
- 1982 – 1984 William W. Wister
- 1984 – 1986 Stuart B. Hartman
- 1986 – 1989 Michael V. Chiodo
- 1989 – 1990 Henry S. Rodgers
- 1990 – 1992 James F. McGlinn
- 1992 – 1994 Gerard E. Heffernan
- 1994 – 1996 Dr. Robert W. Driscoll
- 1996 – 1998 Gerald F. Schwam
- 1998 – 2001 Michael V. Chiodo
- 2001 – 2003 David Altman
- 2003 – 2007 Patrick J. McGinnis, Jr.
- 2007 – 2010 Jeffery Kahn
- 2010 – 2013 John O’Toole
- 2013 – 2016 Chad Sinon
- 2016 – Current Bruce Robertson Jr