Chaplain's Airpark

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After Harry Chaplin returned from World War II, his grandmother didn’t want him to leave the area since jobs were scarce. So, she gave a part of the family farm to Harry to start an airport. It was a place that allowed Harry to continue using the skill he learned while in the Army Air Corps, airplane maintenance. His father Harvey helped him build the hangars. In 1946, the airport was opened and running as Chaplin Airpark. The name was printed in large letters on the rooftop for pilots to see and know where the airport was. The first plane the company owned was a Piper Cub. Many interesting people flew through the airport while doing business in the Plymouth area. To keep the business running in the early years, Harry would take a flatbed truck out and pick up crashed aircraft and rebuild them, since the planes were made of wood and fabric back then. There was one runway running east-to-west that consisted of mowed grass. Keeping the runway open and filling gopher holes were constant chores. Flight instruction was another part of the business in addition to aircraft maintenance. Harry published the first general aviation statewide publication called The Badger Airway Beacon. Issues of the publication can now be found in the Wisconsin Hall of Fame Library at the Wisconsin Aviation Museum in Oshkosh. Harry was very active in helping to grow general aviation in Wisconsin and on the national level. He served as the president of the Wisconsin Aviation Trades Association. In 1965, he was appointed by Governor Knowles to the Wisconsin state Aeronautics Commission and became the first chairman of the Wisconsin Council of Aviation with reappointments made by Governors Lucey and Schreiber. He worked arduously to improve aviation business practices and devoted many uncounted hours toward the development of good, sensible, and fair legislation for the industry. The airport was closed in favor of a more centralized airport for Sheboygan County. The fixed base operation of Chaplin Airpark was moved to the Sheboygan County Memorial Airport when Harry was appointed manager of the new airport in the early sixties. The name was changed to Chaplin Aviation, Inc., and a 100-year contract was signed with the county to provide general aviation services. Chaplin’s Airpark by artist Sonny Franks is proudly sponsored by the Plymouth Arts Center.