Berz-Macomb Airport [CLOSED]

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Berz-Macomb Airport is not the home base for any OurAirports members. It has had 2 visitors.

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Berz-Macomb Airport

Berz Macomb Airport eventually succumbed to the pressures that have become increasingly common to privately-owned airports surrounded by increasingly dense suburban development. An article by Mary Owen in the 12/26/02 issue of the Detroit Free Press was entitled "Berz Macomb Airport hangs in there". "While developers, courts & planners settle the details of a proposed luxury subdivision on his land, Milton Berz Jr. is doing business as usual at the Berz Macomb Airport in Macomb Township. Business is slower now because some customers assume the airport is preparing to close. For the first time in years, there are empty hangars, and people have been flying elsewhere. But flying lessons & aircraft hangar space are still available, and the small office looking onto the runway is full of activity. Despite plans for 495 luxury homes on the airport's site, members of the Berz family contend that they're not closing their business any time soon." "Until the check is in our hands, we're going to be doing business as usual", said 3rd-generation pilot Jeff Berz.

The article continued, "For 4 years, Farmington Hills-based developer Grand Sakwa has had an option on the family's 330 acres, which are between 22 Mile & 23 Mile & Hayes & Romeo Plank. That means Grand Sakwa has the first option to buy the land. In exchange, Grand Sakwa pays a yearly fee & pays the airport's property taxes." The township assessed the land at about $9 million. The Berz family said Grand Sakwa offered more than that."

"It's one of those situations where property values have increased to the levels where it doesn't make any sense to run an airport," said Milton Berz Jr. "To see something you worked at for 30 years ultimately destroyed is not going to be easy."

The article continued, "A court battle between Macomb Township & Grand Sakwa began in 1999 after the township denied the developer's request to rezone the area from industrial to residential. The township contends that a residential development on the site of the airport goes against its 30-year-old master plan, even though there's a subdivision opposite the entrance to the airport. Two years ago, a judge ruled in favor of the developer's request for rezoning. However, the courts haven't determined whether Grand Sakwa is entitled to several million dollars in damages as a result of the delay in the project. Grand Sakwa plans a 190-acre development that would have about 2.6 lots per acre." "When - and if - the airport does close, it will leave only 2 Macomb County airports: Romeo State Airport & Macomb Airport in New Haven. Berz had about 68,200 take-offs & landings in 2001. Among Berz customers is the Warren Police Department, which stations 2 helicopters there. Company executives & celebrities such as Bill Cosby & Cindy Crawford have used the airport when flying into the Detroit area on private jets. Medical teams transporting organs from St. Joseph's Mercy of Macomb in Clinton Township also have taken advantage of the nearby facility." "I think the county is really going to miss this airport," said Jeff Berz. "They don't realize what they have here."

The article continued, "Jeff Berz, whose wife is working on her pilot's license, said that after the airport is sold, it will stay open for an additional 90 days to help customers find space elsewhere. He said people taking flying lessons can transfer their hours. With a hint of regret, Jeff Berz, who had planned to take over the family business, says he wishes that the family had developed the land around the airport with restaurants, homes or a golf course. He said the added revenue could have subsidized the airport." "I grew up out here," he said. "My father flew me out here when they were bulldozing for the runway."

In 2003, their last year, the Berz Macomb Airport web site described their operation as such: "Berz Flying Service operates as a full service FBO, offering flight training, storage, fuel sales, and the maintenance of Piper Airplanes. The flight department, operating Piper Cherokees, has a unique curriculum, offering one-to-one training for both ground & flight training." "Berz-Macomb Airport has a 4,200' paved & lighted runway. There are both VOR, NDB and GPS instrument approaches, the NDB utilizing a radio beacon on the airport. There are available most of the amenities to assist you when coming to the Macomb County area. These include transient hangars & tiedowns, heater service, rental cars, waiting rooms, nearby restaurants & motels, and both 100 octane & jet A fuel."

Fred Kaluza reported in 2003, "The Berz Macomb Airport was just sold for a reported $15 million because it lies smack in the middle of southeast Michigan's fastest sprawling area. The number one cash crop among area farmers is 'subdivisions'. It's getting to the point that flying over southeast Michigan is just as hazardous as if you were over the middle of the Pacific. There's nowhere left to land if you have trouble!" Russ Shreve recalled, "I took my private check ride with Milt Berz Jr, and I bought Milt Berz Sr's house when he retired to Florida. Their flight operation has now moved to Oakland Troy airport, which oddly enough, formerly was the original Berz Airport the family sold to Rockwell."

A 2005 aerial view showed that sadly, all signs of this well-built modern airport had been erased, replaced by streets for a new housing development.

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Berz airport

Some people seem confused. There were actually two Berz Airports. The first was at Crooks Rd and Maple (16 mile) in Troy, that was sold to Rockwell in 1967 or 8. Then the new one was started at 22 mile and Hayes in Macomb Twp.

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famil

I am first grandchild of Milton Berz Sr. He and my grandmother , Dorothy loved their grandbabies. It was not until I was older that I realized what an awesome family I come from. I miss my aunt and uncle-Milton and maryjane. We lost uncle George when he was in an awful plane crash. Uncle Ted just passed recently. My mom, Julia Berz, Logan is here in Fl. My Aunt Emily Berz Siwula is in Michigan. There are a boat load of kids, grandkids, and a few great-grands.

Cynthia Sortor-Galatro cyndigal@centurylink.net

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Gone but not forgoten

Took my flying lessons out of Berz in 1957 with a trainer named J erryGray in a Cessna 175 and a 180. We would make sales calls into small towns in Mich. Chicago for lunch, Drummond Island for Fishing. It was a great little port, easy in easy out.

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Gone but not forgoten

Took my flying lessons out of Berz in 1957 with a trainer named Gray in a Cessna 175 and a 180. We would make sales calls into small towns in Mich. Chicago for lunch, Drummond Island for Fishing. It was a great little port, easy in easy out.

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Berz Airport

Well someone has there facts wrong, I was a regular at Berz from 1961 to 1970, I was employed there from 1966-1970. No Learjet came in 1967 that's for sure. October 1966 American Jet Leasing was the first Lear to arrive and depart at this airport, the next time a Lear came in was 1968 when Bill Freehan and Denny McClain chartered one from Pepsi-Cola to fly to Denver after winning the World Series. Berz was sold to Rockwell and it became Grand Prix Airport in 1971 that remained until the county bought it where it is now Oakland Troy Executive..

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First Flight in a Piper Dakota

My first flight in the Piper Dakota N2190H was 9/11/92 at Berz McComb with CFII 1936055 L C Jell (sp). Ferried the plane to California in 1992. I bought the plane in 2000 and have flown it in California ever since.

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Memorable (but short)Summer Job

I worked at Berz Airport in 1967. Looking back, it was a dream job..short-lived due to my own short-comings in arriving to work on time. I kick myself for that, as I had opportunities,thanks to Mr. Berz, to take flying lessons at a discount. I frequently returned to Berz Airport to enjoy it again,remembering each time the many planes, people , and overall enjoyment working there. I'm sorry it was sold and although I have returned to remember Berz's aiport, the Troy-Oakland remnant is nothing at all like the original. Mr. Berz was a fair and good man to work for. I was fortunate to have experienced washing, taxiing and caring for the Cherokee and Piper trainers. That summer of 1967, I saw a Lear Jet come in for viewing, walked into the cockpit of a King Air, spoke to a pilot who showed me the STOL capabilities of his military camouflaged turbine-engine plane, was allowed to hand-crank an inertia starter biplane(really cool!), and tanked up some intersting old twin-Beech and Turbo-Commanders' that still remain as highlights of my short job experience. Milt, if you're still listening, "thanks for the memories!".

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re: Memorable (but short)Summer Job

My name is Tom and I used to work there also (I think it was 1969 or 1970). I too think that Milt was a great guy to work for. I also remember an instructor named Rex Beach who worked there and lived in a rental near the airport. Those were the days. The Turbo-Commander I remember once belonged to R.A. Bob Hoover and I got to sit right seat with the pilot once. That was a memory that will live with me forever. By the way - if you go to the latest version of Google Earth - they have the capability to show satellite images from back to 1999. If you turn off the roads (which shows the new ones) - there is our old Berz Macomb Airport in all it's glory.

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The Original Berz Airport in Troy

I use to work at the original Berz Airport off maple rd in the 60's as a teenager for Milt Jr. and his Dad , who we all called "Pappy" he was a great man to work for and I think Sharon was the girl that use to talk to all the pilots. There was another elderly man that use to make coffee in the mornings for all the people that use to just hang out in the terminal, but can't remember his name right now. My father bought into a piper 180 and had it in a hanger, I myself use to fuel the plane and wash them I really enjoyed working there , except when we had to get up at 2 am in the morning and plow the runways because to much snow fallin that night. Jeff Moffett (geoffreyfaulknerz28_47@msn.com)

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Berz Macomb Airport

I miss Berz Airport every day. I miss all the great folks who used to work there, hang out there, learned to fly there, our customers and the people who flew in and out of Berz macomb Airport.

It breaks my heart every time I pass by that area and see homes in its place. I grew up there and worked there most of my life. I was the third generation in the family business.

It was a business decision to sell. We sold at a good time before the economy took a dive.

Milton H. Berz who built the airport passed away December 6th of 2008. He was an aviation icon and a aviation pioneer.

Jeffery A. Berz (uiz@juno.com)

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re: Berz Macomb Airport

I used to fly into Berz occasionally when I lived in Troy. In fact, I bought my first airplane there. My partner took flying lessons there and he happened to see a for sale sign in the window of a Piper Arrow just at the time we were looking. Sorry to see another nice GA airport gone in favor of urban sprawl and more sorry to hear of Milt's passing. He was a true friend of aviation.

Tom Altobello

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Gone

I landed here back in July of 2002. Nice little airport. Too bad it got turned into houses.


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