Douglas County residents have expressed interest in flying ever since the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, N. C., in 1903.
An early airplane demonstration was scheduled around 1910 in Roseburg, but historic records indicate, “The craft resisted all efforts to make it fly.” Two years later the same craft did fly from the Sutherlin Field north of Roseburg. Meanwhile, nearby Oakland resident Neil Settle built and experimented with pusher-type airplanes and other single wing planes.
Roseburg Aviation Park was established in the late 1920s. Soon, Earl Branson at the Roseburg Flying Service was offering lessons. In 1938 a special airmail service arrived in Roseburg, and in 1951 West Coast Empire Airlines scheduled passenger service.
In 1998, the Roseburg Regional Airport became known as General Marion Carl Memorial Airfield to honor the Navy test pilot who had set speed and altitude records before retiring near Roseburg.
The Experimental Aircraft Association developed the Young Eagles program for youth in 1992. Sally Wilson of Oakland, who helped start the program, had given nearly 500 children the experience of flying by 2007. Local pilot Larry Durst has flown about 5,400 kids since 1994.
Source: Guyer, R.J. “Airborne, Douglas County’s unique aviation history.” The News-Review. 1 Mar. 2015 (Roseburg, Ore.) B8. Print.