Sandwich airport for sale

Founded by WWII veteran, airstrip’s rich history dates to the late 1940s

The Sandwich Airport in Sandwich is for sale.

Located along the south side of Route 34 between Sandwich and Somonauk, the airport was founded in April 1947 by veteran World War II pilot Roger Vincent, a Sandwich native, when he returned home from the war.

Vincent owned the airport for only four short years, and sold it to the aircraft mechanic, Frank Ament. Ament owned and operated the airport until 1978, when he sold it to pilot and real estate developer George W. Pearce.

Pearce obtained his pilot’s license, his real estate broker’s license and his insurance broker’s license all in 1950 after finishing his service in the Navy. He formed the Lincoln Development Corporation and built the asphalt runway at the airport, along with the Woodlake Landing Subdivision that borders the airstrip, and about 20 airplane hangars that are part of the property.

Under Pearce, the airport thrived by providing crop dusting services, airplane sales, plane reconstruction, sky diving opportunities and flight training, in addition to a small restaurant on the site.

In 1995, however, the airport’s status changed from a commercial status to a restricted landing area, making it a private enterprise, with takeoffs and landings limited to private use. Permission is required before landing there.

After Pearce’s death, his son George F. Pearce took over operations and ownership of the airport. Like his late father, Pearce also is an airplane and flying enthusiast and hobbyist. He has built at least five ultra-light planes himself and two Challenger planes, which are a two-person version of an ultra-light. He has his pilot’s license and continues to fly as a hobby.

The airport primarily has single-engine planes that take off and land there, although a few twin-engines call the Sandwich RLA their home base. It would not be unusual to see an Eclipse jet fly in on occasion to have work done at the paint shop. In addition to the 3,000-foot-by-50-foot asphalt runway, there is a grass runway that measures 1,750 by 100 feet.

“With all the rain and snow we have had here lately,” Pearce said, joking, “You wouldn’t want to land in that grass right now, though, unless, of course, you want to dig yourself out of the mud!”

After running the day-to-day operations of the airport since inheriting the properties, Pearce, now himself in his late 60s, is ready to turn the cockpit over to a new owner and flying enthusiast. He has dreams that the new owners will keep the airport alive and thriving, so that hobbyists can continue to get together to fly, socialize and talk about the beauty of the planes, just as in days gone by. He hopes that the pilots who fly into town for the popular Sandwich Fair every year, can continue this great tradition, and he hopes that the airport will go on being a great asset to the surrounding community.

Pearce has a few short words of advice for the new owner: “Love aviation, promote it, and your days here will be worthwhile!”

Those interested in learning about the properties that are for sale at the airport can call Brian Blackmore or Sandy True at Caton Commercial Real Estate Group at 815-436-5700 or email them at brian@catoncommercial.com or sandy@catoncommercial.com.

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