Vintage Piper Cub J-3
Visitors to The Ohio State University Airport’s Austin E. Knowlton Executive Terminal & Aviation Learning Center are inspired by the 1940 Piper Cub J-3 soaring prominently from the second floor ceiling of the terminal lobby.
Donated by the late Donald Peters, a Trans World Airlines pilot, the aircraft is a favorite of aviation fans of all ages. It has a long and storied history, having been based in the central Ohio area from its early days of service.
“I would like the community to remember the important role Columbus played in the history of aviation, and the connection between our city and early pioneers of aviation," Peters stated at the time of the aircraft's donation.
History of the Piper Cub J-3 at KOSU
The donated Piper Cub was purchased in 1940 by Northway Flying Service to be used as a training aircraft at Norton Field in Columbus, Ohio during World War II by two government programs: Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) and War Training Service. Many future Army and Navy pilots completed initial flight training in these programs before enrollment in military pilot classes.
Norton Field, which no longer exists, was Columbus’ first official airport and was located on E. Broad Street in Whitehall. World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker was a guest at the airfield's gala christening. Norton Field was created by the Army Air Service in 1923 and named for Fred W. Norton, an outstanding Ohio State Class of 1917 athlete and graduate. Norton died in 1918 after an intense aerial battle for which he was decorated, and was the first Ohio State graduate to die in World War I.
From service to restoration
After WWII was over, the late Harley D. Snook, a CPTP flight instructor from Norton Field, purchased the Cub from the flying service. He operated the aircraft at his Snook Field in Reynoldsburg for about a decade. Years later, Snook and Peters, who was Snook’s flight student in the 1940s, worked together to restore the aircraft from 1992-1995.
“Snook did the work and I provided the funds,” Peters said.
Many years after its restoration, in 2018 the aircraft was donated to The Ohio State University Airport by Peters. It now inspires the community and airport guests.