Floyd H. L. Durham (1918-2010), carved a 1,800-foot airstrip out of his backyard with a chain saw, scoop, and truck so he could have a handy place from which to fly his Ercoupe. That was in Cheswold in 1954. In the 1960s, as Dover Downs gobbled up the city's airport, displaced pilots asked Floyd to turn his field into a public facility. He felled more trees, leveled more land, stretched his strip to 3,715 feet and built hangars.
He did all this out of savings and took little money out of the business because, he said, "My hobby carried me away."
Finally banks saw the community value of the airport. With their support, he paved the runway, installed gasoline pumps and pilot-controlled lighting. He erected a beacon and built a mainte-nance hangar and pilot lounge. He invested in a dedicated phone line and antenna so pilots could activate flight plans from their air¬planes. "Nary a penny from the government," he said, "It put me in debt up to here."
In the 1970's, Floyd, a flight instructor, flew an average of 550 hours a year.
Delaware Airpark, certified for instrument approaches, became the best-equipped public-use airport in Kent County. And through¬out the years, the pilots' lounge stayed open around the Clock.
Last summer Floyd sold his "field of dreams" to the State, to be operated by the Delaware River & Bay Authority.
Floyd, 82, was widowed in 1988. He was nominated by his pilot son Harlan, who operates the maintenance services at the airport, and daughter Muriel, a lawyer and pilot.