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The Main Line Airport (MLA), also known as the Paoli Airport, stood for more than a half-century at the current site of Malvern’s Great Valley Corporate Center. As one of Pennsylvania’s earliest country airfields, it served aviation from the 1920s into the 1970s, and it was home to major research breakthroughs that would later be incorporated into the world’s first successful helicopter.
On Thursday, Oct. 5, at 2 p.m., the American Helicopter Museum and Education Center (AHMEC), Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society, State Senator Andy Dinniman, East Whiteland Township, and Richoh USA Inc. will pay homage to this incredible site with an historical marker. The dedication ceremony will occur on the Ricoh campus at 70 Valley Stream Parkway.
“MLA played an important role in the pioneering days of rotary wing aircraft,” said Bob Beggs, co-founder and trustee of AHMEC, who will speak at the event. “Some of the earliest experiments with autogiros and helicopters were conducted in the skies over what is now the Great Valley Corporate Center.
“Part of AHMEC’s mission is to preserve the memory of key people, places and events that made modern helicopters possible. The old MLA is one of those places.”
Family members of MLA’s original owners and pilots will be in attendance, in addition to the following speakers: Ian Alexander, Roger D. Thorne, board chair of the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society; LCol Kevin Berry, Vice Commander, Pennsylvania Wing, Civil Air Patrol; Bill Holmes, chair, Board of Supervisors, East Whiteland Township; Robert Beggs, co-founder, American Helicopter Museum; Michelle H. Kichline, chair, Chester County Board of Commissioners; and Senator Dinniman, who represents the 19th District.
The dedication will also feature a flyover of vintage aircraft from MLA’s era, and it will close with a small reception and light refreshments at Ricoh headquarters where historic photographs will be on display. Aviators who actually flew out of MLA and its subsequent heliport will also be available for comment.