Chatham Airport: One Man’s Field of Dreams
By the time Berube sold the airport to the town, he had flown hundreds of local and summer residents around the area, transported numerous fishermen to the beaches, and delivered mail. He even provided his airport as a staging field for U.S. Air Force pilots out of Otis Air Force Base, who used the field as a jumping off point to access Texas Tower No. 2, an offshore radar station that monitored Soviet activity. In his book, Whittier writes that Berube received commendations from both the Air Force base commander and then-governor, John A. Volpe.
In April of 1966, only a week before Berube passed away at the age of 81, Volpe wrote to him: “It was your foresight, your energy, and your dedication that brought into being the strategically located airport at Chatham. Your fellow citizens are mindful of the fact that you literally cleared the ground for this airport which has brought pleasure and security to countless citizens of the Commonwealth and visitors to Cape Cod.”
Today, Berube’s legacy lives on at Chatham Airport. In addition to Stick ‘N Rudder’s aerial tours, which continue Berube’s love for sharing the Cape’s aerial splendor with visitors, the airport is once again active in various town events, including Chatham’s annual Fourth of July celebration, the annual airport open house, and aviation-themed “Movie Nights Under the Stars.” In 2015, the lineup of summer films included Airplane and Top Gun! Further, the airport’s Hangar B restaurant serves breakfast and lunch, and garnered accolades from Boston magazine for the “Best Brunch—Cape Cod and Islands” in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
According to Whittier, who enjoyed a long friendship with the aviation pioneer, “Wilfred Berube was not a rich man in the monetary sense, [but] he was a very rich one indeed in terms of the things that make life worthwhile.” Indeed, Berube mounted a sign outside the hangar written in rope lettering that read “mon rêve,” or “my dream” in French. Whittier reports that Berube once said, “I’d rather work around an airport, airplanes, and aviators just for the fun of it than get a million dollars a year for doing something I did not like!”
To learn more about the airport, visit chathamairport.com.
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