Anthony H. G. Fokker (1890–1939), the famous Dutch aircraft designer whose fighter planes were the scourge of Allied airmen throughout World War I, during the 1920s also designed and built a series of successful civilian airliners. One of his two American assembly plants was established in 1928 in Glen Dale, Marshall County. An adjacent grass landing strip, now named Fokker Field and still used for local sports flying, was the busy site of Fokker test flights. At its peak, the Fokker plant employed 500 people from Glen Dale, Moundsville, and from the nearby Wheeling area. Fokker’s best-known airliner, used by airlines throughout the world, was the high-wing Trimotor F-10A manufactured at Glen Dale.
The hope that the Northern Panhandle might become a major aviation hub was dashed by two events: the advent of the Great Depression, which virtually halted all growth in the aviation industry, and the March 31, 1931, crash of an F-10A that killed everyone aboard, including legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne. The crash was blamed on the plane’s design, and Fokker sales plummeted. Fokker closed its Glen Dale operations, and in 1934 the building was sold to the Louis Marx Toy Company. A faint ‘‘Fokker Aircraft’’ is still visible on the outside of the main building.
This Article was written by Louis E. Keefer
Keefer, Louis E. Wings over Glen Dale. Goldenseal, (Winter 1991).
Cite This Article
Keefer, Louis E. "Fokker Aircraft Plant." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 22 February 2011. Web. 24 November 2014.