Historic Markers Across Georgia

Georgia's Pioneer Aviator Ben T. Epps 1888-1937

Marker ID: GHM 029-16
Location: Traffic Circle in front of the terminal at Athens-Clarke County Airport
County: Clarke
Coordinates: N 33° 57.111    W 083° 19.429
  33.95185    -83.32381
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WM39J
Georgia's Pioneer Aviator Ben T. Epps 1888-1937 Marker
Photo by ChapterhouseInc


Ben T. Epps -- Georgia´s First in Flight -- designed, built and in 1907 flew the first airplane in the State of Georgia. He was born in Oconee County, educated in Clarke County, and attended Georgia Tech. A self-taught aviator, aircraft designer, and builder, Epps built the 1907 Monoplane in his shop on Washington Street in Athens and designed and flew new airplanes in 1909, 1911, 1916, 1924, and 1930. The 1924 Epps Monoplane weighed only 350 pounds, had a wingspan of 25 feet, and was powered by a two-cylinder motorcycle engine. Designed for the average man, easy to fly, and inexpensive to operate, it would get 25 miles per gallon at 60 miles per hour.

Epps began operation of an airport at this location in 1917, and operated a flying service for the next 20 years. In 1937, he died of injuries here after engine failure and the crash of his light biplane on take-off.