Denver’s 94th Aero Squadron

When Guy was an air traffic controller at the old Stapleton National Airport in Denver, we lived in an Aurora apartment across Peoria Street west of Fitzsimmons Army Hospital.

One restaurant we enjoyed when we had visitors from Iowa was on Colfax Avenue, the Apple Tree Shanty, where the food was great and the waitresses wore quaint costumes with aprons.

Mom’s souvenir trivet from the Apple Tree Shanty.

Another fun place to take out-of-towners was Denver’s Casa Bonita. The “cliff divers” and strolling musicians were entertaining, with some of the dining areas set among cave-like nooks. The food wasn’t that great but it was the first place we ever tasted sopapillas. With honey.

An outstanding restaurant was the 94th Aero Squadron, at 25th Avenue and Fulton Street in Aurora, sitting right along the south side of Stapleton’s east-west runway. An old wooden World War I propeller hung in the entryway, and the dining areas were furnished as rooms in an old French farmhouse.

94th (2)
Our pictures from those days are so grainy.

Dad, who’d been a pilot during World War II, enjoyed listening–with headphones provided at the table–to the pilot/controller radio lingo from Stapleton’s nearby control tower.

Stapleton’s runways, looking north. Runway 17F/35L crossed I-70 at its midpoint. Taken July 1993, shortly before the airport closed. USGS photo

One time when we dined there, Dad’s seat at the table faced the runway. He pointed out a private plane come in for a landing. “Look at that! His gear is still up!”

Sure enough, the plane bellied in, causing emergency equipment to quickly arrive.

That was a highlight for Dad to talk about when he got back home to Iowa. Another was the time he got to watch the Baltimore Colts’ football great at practice–Johnny Unitas.



  1. That would be scary to see! I saw a tragic accident once at an air show here in Michigan as a child… made me afraid to fly for a long time but fortunately I got over it.

  2. Don’t know if you remember this. There was a day when the 747 that hauled the Space Shuttle had a problem and had to do an Emergency Landing at Stapleton airport. I-70 became a parking lot!

    • We lived there from 1971 to late 1976. That emergency was after we’d returned to Iowa. We lived just west of Fitzsimmons and would ride our bikes to the east end of Stapleton’s runway and thrill to the 747s landing overhead! I worked in the Office of Revisor of Statutes in the basement of the State Capitol. One of my jobs was proofreading amendments, out loud to another proofer, every punctuation. Suppose that’s how little things out of place still jump out at me. Worked there until Dan was born in December 1974.

  3. A friend of mine worked at the restaurant & one evening Flip Wilson came in. It was quite an experience I’m told as my friend was tripping on some fairly good acid. 1973 or 4? lol. I wondered through once. It was actually pretty cool although I never ate there.

  4. Wow, you just unlocked some childhood memories for me! I must have been three or four years old, going to Apple Tree Shanty and 94th Aero Squadron… thanks for the nostalgia. ❤️

  5. I worked at the 94th for many years have so many memories. Wonderful people I served a lot of engagement proposals.

  6. I grew up on East Colfax. Went to aurora central graduated 77. We saw the 747/space shuttle also the Concorde. I always loved the 49th, wondered what happened to the ww1 planes out front. Thank you for happy memories of old aurora. It’s a dump now.

    • That’s what we were afraid of, but at least we’ve got happy memories. We used to ride our bikes to the area east of the runway so we could be under the 747s as they were landing!

  7. I’ve heard, and I’m not sure how true this is, but Casa Bonita is owned by Dinsey again. There for a long time, it was a dump, but it’s been restored to it’s former glory.

    • We haven’t been out there since Dan was in high school, and he’ll be 49 this year! But he was born in Englewood, Swedish Hospital. We moved back to Iowa when he was 2.

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