Historic Photo Gallery

About Our Collections

The photographs and documents in this archive are the result of years of research and documentation of aviation history for the Glynn County Airport Commission. Each collection is identified by the names of the generous individuals and organizations that have shared their priceless images. The purpose of the collection is to preserve historic contributions to aviation made by members of the military and civilians in Glynn County, Georgia. Any sale of these images is prohibited. We ask that any publication of these images accompanied by the following citation: Courtesy of {original donor’s name}, Glynn County Airport Commission archives.

McKinnon St Simons Island Airport

The Glynn County Commission, led by its visionary chairman, Malcolm McKinnon, made the bold move toward future progress when they made a commitment to build a professional airport on St Simons Island in 1935. Despite the devastating financial realities of the Great Depression, leaders correctly identified aviation as an important part of the county’s future ability to grow and compete with other areas. Most small communities at that time had only grass landing strips and makeshift structures to shelter aircraft; the new airport on St Simons Island would offer a considerable upgrade in facilities with properly graded, paved runways and a hangar. When the new airport officially opened in May 1938, it quickly attracted scheduled air service, charter traffic and scores of private pilots– all boons to the growing tourism trade.

When World War II started, the local Civil Air Patrol Coastal Patrol Unit 6 flew from McKinnon Field until the U.S. Navy purchased the airport from the county. Renamed NAS St Simons, the airport was the home of the Navy Radar Training School (NRTS). In 1947, the Navy returned the field to Glynn County, along with numerous major infrastructure improvements at the airport and surrounding areas on St Simons Island. Today, McKinnon St Simons Island Airport is a busy general aviation center, with modern facilities and services as well as a rich historic heritage.

Eastern Inaugural Flight at McKinnon 1939

After its christening in 1938, McKinnon Field enjoyed steady use by private aircraft and mail carriers. In 1939, Eastern Airlines began scheduled passenger service from McKinnon Field. These images record the inaugural flight. The Captain enjoyed being “kidnapped” by the Pirates of the Spanish Main, a local service organization for young women. Airline protocol was considerably more relaxed in 1939, as evidenced by the presence of a young passenger’s small puppy on the runway. These images were donated by a collector who wishes to remain anonymous.

Aircraft Front Left Quarter
Approaching McKinnon Field 1939
Boarding Aircraft for inaugural flight
Captain of Inaugural flight
Eastern pilot ready for inaugural flight
Father and son closer look at airplane
Front of Aircraft
Loading Luggage for inaugural flight
Pretty Pirates capture pilot
Side of Aircraft

Larry Wade 1920-46

This collection contains one of the earliest known professional aerial photographs of St Simons Island. Another image taken in 1938 shows that the construction on the new McKinnon Field was completed. The wartime images of NAS St Simons show a marked contrast after the US Navy invested in improving the original facility and building additional structures at the field.

McKinnon at completion 1938
NAS SSI circa 1943-44
NAS ST.Simons
SSI aerial shot circa 1920-1930

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"Howdy" Egbert 1939-55

Once McKinnon Field was completed on St. Simons Island, it quickly attracted a core group of aviation devotees. For some local families, spending time there was a way of life. Ned Egbert, who operated the FBO at McKinnon, often took his young sons to the field with him. The boys grew familiar with the varied collection of aircraft tied down there, which are shown in these rare photographs. Their lovely mother, Estelle, even posed in front of a DeHaviland Moth when she came to pick the boys up one summer afternoon. Ned Egbert also served as a corporate pilot for tobacco tycoon RJ Reynolds, as well as a charter service operator.

After Hangar Painted
Curtis C46 at McKinnon Field
Estelle Egbert and DeHaviland Moth
Grumman Goose  McKinnon Field 1939
Inside hangar McKinnon circa 1939
Inside shop behind 1st McKinnon hangar
McKinnon hangar circa 1939
McKinnon hangar circa 1940
Men on McKinnon tarmac
Ned Egbert with his plane
Ned Egbert with the Sapelo Star
Ned Egbert

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Joseph Schlosser 1943-45

Young Joseph Schlosser enlisted in the US Navy in wartime, and was stationed at NAS St Simons. He served as an instructional assistant in the Navy Radar Training School at the base. He later returned to the community after completing his architecture studies at Georgia Institute of Technology. These rare images were taken by Mr. Schlosser with his prized Brownie box camera, developed by the base photo lab assistant and kept in a shoebox beneath his bed until he donated their use for the history display at McKinnon St Simons Island Airport in 2003.

The technology of radar was new and unfamiliar at the onset of World War II, and somewhat secret in nature. Radar training facilities such as the one on St Simons Island were among the top domestic priorities for the military. Leaders correctly identified radar as a key component of Allied victory.

Images include aircraft used as “target planes” for radar students to practice tracking and identifying aircraft, and the temporary radar towers precariously installed on the beaches near the King and Prince Hotel, where the officers were housed. Marines and enlisted personnel were housed in barracks on the base. The Cloister Hotel generously allowed sailors from NAS St Simons and NAS Glynco on the mainland to swim any time they could spare an hour or two away from their duties. Photographs of base buildings were taken from the flight tower.

F-6F Hellcats on apron
Hangar and terminal NAS St Simons
Marine barracks, Mess Hall
Marine barracks
NAS St Simons Flight Admin Building
NAS St Simons Radar School
NAS St Simons buildings
Pool side at Cloister Hotel
Radar tower on beach
Radar towers
Recreation Hall
Runway NAS St Simons
Sailors and WAVES at Cloister pool
Target aircraft at NAS St Simons
Target aircraft
View along camp road
King and Prince Hotel

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Allen Wilson 1944-45

The US Navy added numerous improvements to the airfield on St Simons, including the tower and terminal buildings in these two images. The structures remained in use for many years after the war. (For additional views of these structures, see images donated by Carlton Morrison.)

McKinnon terminal, tower, hangar
Tower at McKinnon

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US Navy Institute

These images of aircraft show three of the planes that were used at NAS St Simons. By the time fighting during World War II was at its most intense, these aircraft were in the process of being removed from combat inventory as new and improved models were manufactured. The planes were used as targets for students in training for the new technology of radar, or as fighters to be guided after operators located the target planes over the St Simons Sound. At other times, officers stationed at the base utilized the aircraft to maintain adequate hours to qualify for flight pay.

F-6FHellcats
SB2CHelldiver
SNJ

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Ralph Bufkin 1943-45

NAS St Simons maintained a chase boat to achieve a quick rescue if a pilot crashed into the ocean. The powerful Packard engine made the boat extremely an extremely fast mode of reaching downed pilots. The matchbook was typical of items produced at each military base.

NAS St Simons Match Book
PT w- Packard engine rescue boat- NAS SSI

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Jack Mills 1947

At the end of World War II, interest in aviation on St Simons was even more widespread than before. A fly-in of new private aircraft models was an exciting, well-attended event. Sailors who were in the process of readying the base to be turned back over to civilian control can be seen on the right-hand side of the photograph.

Fly-in at McKinnon 1947

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Winn Baker 1941-43

Members of the Baker family are aviation legends in the state of Georgia. Both Frances Anderson (Sam) Baker and his son, Winn, are inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame. These images, donated by Winn, are from Sam Baker’s pre-war work at McKinnon Field as the airport’s FBO, as well as his World War II service in the Civil Air Patrol. The image of Sawtell Field in Brunswick shows the county’s earliest grass landing strip, located near the current College of Coastal Georgia.

One image, however, deserves singular mention. The members of the Georgia Air Militia standing at attention beside their aircraft on the beach at Sea Island were private pilots who organized into an airborne unit at the urging of the resort’s founder, Howard Coffin. Coffin, an advisor to former President Woodrow Wilson, had viewed Hitler’s rise to power as a threat to our nation. His pleas to President Franklin Roosevelt to install a first line of protection along Georgia’s barrier islands fell on deaf ears, so he encouraged local aviators to create a homeland defense organization. As these owners of private aircraft anxiously patrolled coastal skies, Coffin and others finally persuaded First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to intercede with the President to create the Civil Air Patrol only six days prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Sam Baker had worked as the McKinnon Field FBO, commercial pilot and flight instructor for years before World War II. He became an officer in Coastal Patrol 6, the local unit of the Civil Air Patrol. His knowledge of coastal waters helped him direct other pilots on dawn and dusk reconnaissance flights that searched for– and found– lurking U-boats that threatened merchant marine vessels approaching coastal waters. The Civil Air Patrol used facilities at McKinnon Field until the US Navy purchased the airport from Glynn County for the duration of the war. They were allowed to use the runways in cooperation with the Navy until the unit was disbanded and its members transferred in 1943.

Sam Baker’s photographs show the men and the makeshift tent city that housed the CAP unit on the property adjacent to McKinnon Field. The private aircraft used by the CAP were held together by makeshift and make-do measures, mismatched spare parts and optimism. Nicknamed “The Sandwich and Suicide Club” by a visiting Army general, Coastal Patrol 6 guarded the waters off Glynn County’s shores until the airship (blimp) base was established at NAS Glynco on the site of today’s Brunswick Golden Isles Airport. The intrepid “Duck Club” was comprised of men who had experienced a rescue from their aircraft landing “in the drink.”

1959- RJ Reynolds clipping
Brunswick 1935 Sawtell field
CAP 1941 plane with bombs wired
CAP 6 at  work on engine
CAP pilot at McKinnon hangar
CAP- newsclipping- rescue
CP 6 Commander Tom Daniels
CP6 Commander Daniels with car
CP6 Group Portrait
Coming off patrol
Ga. Air Militia- Sea Is. beach 1941
HomeSweetTent
McKinnon Field hangar and plane c1937
McKinnon Field hangar- 1938
Sam Baker shows fishing skills to CAP colleague
Seven CP6 Members
The Duck Club
The Sandwich and Suicide Squad

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Carlton Morrison 1945-50s

Two views of the former tower and terminal buildings show the impact of the Navy’s improvements to the facility that were used long after wartime. (For additional views of these structures, see images donated by Allen Wilson.)

A unique photograph in this collection shows an excited young lady who won on the popular 1950s game show, “Queen for a Day.” Her wish to visit a beau on St Simons Island was granted, and her arrival at McKinnon Airport was a public relations triumph for the county.

A 1970s photo of Camille Adams, ticket agent for Air South, a scheduled carrier based on St Simons Island, foretold a successful career in the travel industry.

Camille Adams - Air South
Queen for a day 1950s
Terminal-tower front view
Tower back stairs

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Contact Us

Glynn County Airport Commission
295 Aviation Parkway Suite 205
Brunswick, GA 31525

commission@flygcairports.com

Tel: 912.265.2070
Fax: 912.264.0228