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Bolton Airport History: before tee times there were takeoffs

According to the Town of Bolton: “A single-runway airport, the Bolton Airport, opened in the southwest part of town in the mid-1930’s.”

Some describe it as being at the location of the Twin Springs golf course or off Wilder Road at the International Golf Club entrance. It was closely linked to an adjoining small Clinton airfield, which closed. The two airfields eventually seemed to merge and expand as the Bolton Airport (See Bolton Airport history below).

“The Bolton Airport continued to operate until 1951, largely as a flight school. By 1947 it had trained three hundred pilots under the G.I. Bill; it was also a base for the Civil Air Patrol,” notes the Town of Bolton website.

The YouTube video below—posted by Doug Ronan in 2012—has the following description: 

“Amazing old footage of flying at the Bolton Airport in Bolton, Mass and Tanner Hiller Airport in Barre, Mass in 1949.”

Bolton Airport history

The website “Abandoned and Little-Known Airports: Central Massachusetts” created by Paul Freeman in 1999 outlines the history of the airport and others. The following excerpts offer an overview (see the entire article for more on how the Bolton Airport expanded into Clinton): 

“After the end of WW2, activity at the field began to pick up, when Worcester industrialist Harry Kumpe formed Airports Inc. & rented the airfield. He hired Loran “Pappy” Malone to manage the field, who quickly became a father figure to the young student pilots at Bolton. The Haire Publishing Company’s 1945 Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy) listed the Bolton Airport as being located 2.3 miles northeast of Clinton, and described the field as having two 1,900′ sod runways, oriented north/south & east/west.”

“At its peak (according to Jerry Mears, who flew at Bolton from 1946-49), approximately 25 aircraft called Bolton home. During the airport’s heyday its owners designed many expansion schemes. According to Randy Wilson (who learned to fly at Bolton), “They were calling it the Country Club of the Air. They had big plans.”

“Unfortunately, by the early 1950s, the “GI Bill” funding which had previously enabled much of the flight training business at Bolton had started to decline, and this resulted in a sharp decrease in flight training & aircraft sales. These factors, coupled with competition from other airports, caused the Bolton Airport to be officially closed in the Summer of 1951. However, a few local pilots continued to use the closed airfield for a little while. In a sad ending to the little airport, it had its only fatal accident after the field was closed: in 11/1/52, Brigham Mayo crashed while attempting to land at the abandoned airport.”

“In 1953 the airport land was sold to Albert Surprennant & George Forsberg, along with the adjacent Runaway Brook Country Club. Bolton Airport was evidently closed at some point between 1954-55, as it was no longer depicted on the May 1955 Boston Sectional Chart. Between 1955-58, the new owners of the property expanded the golf course onto the land formerly occupied by Bolton Airport.”

Origins of the airport video

The YouTube video poster notes that the video was ‘from Nate Mayo of Mayocraft in Bolton Mass.’ and that the film was shot by ‘Nate’s brother Brigham Mayo.”

According to the article above, Brigham Mayo died in an airfield crash in 1952. 

According to Nathan Mayo’s family as outlined in his 2018 obituary

“Nathan was a lifelong resident of Bolton. He carried on a rich family tradition of naval service, earned his wings as an officer and official naval aviator and flew off the deck of aircraft carriers. Nate began flying at age 15 and did not stop until his health prevented him from doing so. He worked for 28 years as a design engineer and machinist while still carrying on his love of flying and restoring airplanes. After working with the Collings Foundation in Stow, Nate established Mayocraft, Inc. in 1985 to dedicate himself fully to the design, construction and restoration of vintage aircraft.” 


For more information about Bolton’s history, visit the Bolton Historical Society‘s Facebook page and website.


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