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Showing posts from February, 2020

Machesney Concedes to Progress

“Forty-nine years ago I dug my first spade of ground here, and now I’m doing it again. But this’ll be longer lasting.” -- Fred Machesney, August 2nd, 1977.





The headline from Rockford’s Morning Star-Register Republic paper from August 22nd, 1974 reads “Machesney Concedes to Progress”. As a researcher, I have read thousands of historical headlines over the years but none have had a personal impact on me more than the one listed above. When Machesney came to Rockford he ushered in a whole new era. For the first time in the history of the city, the airplane was now seen as a viable tool for commerce, recreation, and tourism. Business leaders could charter Machesney to take sales trips all over the region and be back home in time for dinner. Intrepid shoppers could take a shopping tour of Milwaukee and Chicago and be home the same day. Hundreds of aircraft from visiting cities and tours came through the airport during the year to promote aviation or conduct business. The possibilities for t…

They Paved Paradise And Put Up A Parking Lot

It wasn’t that long ago that driving up North Second Street and glancing across this field provided entirely different scenery. Instead of an empty parking lot with cracked pavement and stale walls, the landscape featured a large grass field speckled with hangars and aircraft. The sound of engines and propellers beating the air dominated the air. In the early days, one would eagerly visit the airport on the weekend for a chance to take a ride with “Mac” and see Rockford from above for only $2.50.

Fred Machesney was Rockford’s first professional pilot. Nearly 92 years ago, he came to Rockford with an airplane and dream to turn his passion for flying into a full time career. His passion, eye for safety, and his astute business sense quickly endeared him to the Chamber of Commerce and local business leaders. They embraced Machesney not only as a tool to help promote local business but as a partner that could help grow the local economy. The Chamber invested in him heavily and almost immed…