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Stainless Steel Photo Plaques Commemorate a Historic Aviation Site

February 5, 2014 Plaques

It’s important to remember that no matter where you go in this country there is always a rich history just beneath the surface. We were reminded of this when were commissioned to design, produce, and install a series of stainless steel photo plaques near a Costco in Alexandria, Virginia.

We talked with the General Contractor, Whiting Turner, and architects regarding what they wanted. As a result, we learned quite a bit about the history of this area, much of which would have been lost to time if efforts hadn’t been made to preserve the site.

Beacon Field Airport was active from the 1920s until its closure in 1959. It was one of the earliest private airports in the country and was later used to train pilots to fly after World War 2. It got its name due to having an airway beacon used to guide early airmail pilots.


Instructor H.J. Lehman, seen below, was something of a legend, as he resolved early on his life to be a pilot and did everything he could to achieve this dream. By the time he became an instructor he had amassed thousands of hours of flying time. He continued operations well after Beacon Field closed.

HJ Lehman

Hybla Valley has a more famous story behind it. After the famous first transatlantic zeppelin voyage from Germany to America in 1928, zeppelin designer Hugo Eckener and First Officer Captain Ernst Lehmann wanted to establish a base for future zeppelin travel. Hybla Valley was seen as “ideal” and soon the airfield was built.

Elvin W. Robertson, seen below, was the President of Mount Vernon Airways and proprietor of Hybla Valley Airport and began improving the area and field. Soon, Hybla Valley Airport was the first airfield in Virginia to receive a permit to operate an airport within the state. While efforts were made to turn the field into a national airport, interest died down in the area and it officially closed in 1956.

EW Robertson

The official unveiling and dedication of our signs came on August 2, 2013. H.J. Lehman’s son Harry P. Lehman was in attendance and spoke on the importance of the area and how the stainless steel photo plaques signified the honoring of a often-forgotten portion of our nation’s history. To this day local shoppers get to enjoy a visually-captivating history lesson along with their errands.

We were honored to do our part to pay tribute to a historical event that may very well have been passed over if it wasn’t for the efforts of so many people, including Costco and Whiting Turner.

Check out the gallery of US Route 1 Wall of Aviation:

Author: Shabbir Moosabhoy

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