NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Nashville group is working together to help raise funds to renovate a forgotten landmark that honors a special female World War II hero.
Nashvillian Cornelia Fort was the first female pilot in American history to die while on active duty.
The Friends of Shelby group wants to help reintroduce Fort as a person and the airport that is situated in the middle of Nashville that still bears her name.
“It’s really kind of a magical spot,” President of Friends of Shelby Brooke Scurlock said. “At one time, it was the busiest private airport in the country.”
In 2010, the May flood swallowed the property.
“Metro Parks acquired this land after the flood when it was no longer feasible for it to function as an airport,” Scurlock explained.
Scurlock said the property just sat for quite some time.
“For us to try to bring some attention back both to a part of history that people don’t know about, as well as to a part of our actual neighborhood and city that people don’t know about, it seems like that was a nice marriage and we wanted to do something with that,” she said.
To garner attention, the Friends of Shelby have started hosting Pickin’ Parties to help raise funds for the park, but also to reintroduce people to the space and the woman its name for.
“[We’re] sort of using her as our inspiration and muse for the space,” Scurlock said.
The former runway is now part of a greenway and people are already rediscovering it.
Scurlock added she knows the steps the group is taking are just the first steps in a rebirth at Cornelia Fort Airport, but she hopes to see the area thrive for years to come.
The group’s next Pickin’ Party will be held on Sept. 19.