BY DEE THOMPSON
Did you know that DeKalb Peachtree Airport was formerly a naval air station, and before that, an Army training camp for young soldiers preparing to fight overseas during World War I? Camp Gordon was established in 1916 on 2,000 acres of farmland, which was owned by several individuals including Asa Candler [of Coca-Cola fame]. It was the largest construction project in Atlanta up to that time. That bit of history is fascinating and very personal to me, because my grandfather was one of the young men trained there, but also because I now have a reason to visit the property as part of my work with The Storyline Group.
Camp Gordon officially opened in September 1917, near the Southern Railway in Chamblee. It was the training ground for the legendary 82D “All American” division which included Alvin C. York, whose remarkable story became a movie (“Sergeant York”) in 1941 starring Gary Cooper. During World War II, Camp Gordon was home to the legendary 82nd Airborne Division.
In 1965, after serving as a naval air station for many years, the property was given to DeKalb County for use as a general aviation airport. Today, DeKalb Peachtree Airport (or PDK, as it is commonly known) is the busiest general aviation airport in the southeast, and it is also where The Storyline Group maintains a presence in one of the office buildings located near the airport entrance.
In 2007, Storyline published Georgia Flight, the 100-year history of powered flight in Georgia, commemorating the first documented powered flight in the state by Ben Epps. In 1907, just four years after the Wright Brothers flew their inaugural flight at Kitty Hawk, Epps designed and built an airplane and flew it across a cow pasture in Athens, Georgia. Today, his son, Pat Epps, and his family own and manage Epps Aviation, which in 1965 became the first Fixed Base Operation (general aviation terminal) at PDK Airport.
Copies of Georgia Flight are available at the Pilot Shop, located at 1954 Airport Road, on the left as you enter PDK Airport from Clairmont Road.