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OX 5 Aviation Pioneers Honored at the Opening Ceremony for the 75th Anniversary of Allegheny County Airport


WEST MIFFLIN, PA – The Allegheny County Airport Authority will recognize eight members of the OX 5 Aviation Pioneers who rehabbed Miss Pittsburgh, the history-making airplane that made the first airmail flight, at the opening ceremony for the 75th anniversary Air Fair at Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin, PA. The ceremony is at 9:30 am, Saturday, September 9, 2006, on the stage near the Terminal Building.

Individuals being honored include: Ben Venables, Don Riggs, Bob Lee, Jim Kirk, Bob Zorn, Dennis Yerkey, Ivan Livi, and Ralph Hoesch. Miss Pittsburgh is an OX-5 powered Waco 9 airplane that was restored and now hangs at Pittsburgh International Airport Landside Terminal.

That was not always the case. Miss Pittsburgh was found in Florida around 1960 being used for advertising. Though in disrepair, it still bore its original markings. The owner at that time flew it to New York, but soon the plane became disabled and was forgotten again. In 1993, the OX 5 Pioneers rediscovered the plane in the Rhinebeck NY, Aerodrome, and they began the process of returning the plane to Pittsburgh. They raised money and worked with the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics to have it refurbished.

Miss Pittsburgh was first owned by Clifford Ball and made her virgin airmail flight around noon, April 21, 1927, from Pittsburgh to Cleveland. The OX-5 was a World War One training aircraft engine. It is 23 feet long and has a wingspan of 29.6 feet. The wings were made of spruce and the sides of the plane were cloth stretched over metal tubing. It had no radio or brakes. It could carry up to 800 pounds, flew at a speed of nearly 100 miles per hour at a flight altitude of 1,000 to 5,000 feet.

Cliff Ball was able to expand his profitable airmail service and added more aircraft. The venture became known as the Cliff Ball Mail Line and became Pennsylvania Airlines, which became Pennsylvania Central Airline (PCA), which later became Capital Airlines and part of United Airlines.

“These gentlemen demonstrated an incredible drive to restore Miss Pittsburgh so it could take its rightful place in our region’s rich aviation history. They have a high regard for the importance of the role that Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Airport had in the early development of our airlines today,” explained Kent G. George, Executive Director, Allegheny County Airport Authority.

The Air Fair at Allegheny County Airport is Saturday, September 9 from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Sunday, September 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is a festival of vintage and military aircraft. There will be a paper airplane contest sponsored by Corporate Air, on each day beginning at 11:30 in front of the terminal building. Children are encouraged to take part and all participants will get a prize. Music, food, puppet shows are all part of the festivities. More information on the event is at

Sep 05, 2006