Dr. Clifford Strange, Founder of the Portland Airport
Dr. Clifford Strange, a native of Portland, Maine, became profoundly interested in aviation at an early age. In 1915, while a student at Harvard Dental College, he and several companions designed and built a hang glider that flew successfully from a hilltop in Cape Elizabeth. Upon graduating in 1917, he received a captain's commission in the U.S. Army and served with the Dental Corps at a training field in Spartanburg, S.C.
He purchased a government surplus Curtiss "Jenny", the primary training plane of WW I and learned to fly it from a former WW I flight instructor at Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
In 1922 he acquired several acres of farmland in Stroudwater, then on the outskirts of Portland, and graded a small, grass-covered runway for personal use. His airstrip soon attracted other early pilots and aircraft owners, and in 1927 the airstrip was recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce as the "Stroudwater Flying Field".
In the late 1920's and early 1930's, Strange developed a second runway, constructed two hangers, installed an airport beacon and fueling facilities. The field was then renamed, "Portland Airport", which Dr. Strange gave [sold?] to the City of Portland in 1937.
Dr. Strange was known statewide for his efforts to promote aviation in Maine, and was frequently asked to address schools and civic organizations. He was one of the founders of the Aero Club of Maine, which numbered over 400 members statewide prior to WW II.
After Dr. Strange's death, his family continued its long association with aviation. Daughter Beth became an airline flight attendant and married a Northeast Airlines pilot; son Neal maintained a floatplane at his home in Raymond, Maine; and grandson Keith operated a seaplane base in Lincoln, Maine.