Col. M. B. Asp Prominent In Aviation World
Veteran Officer Was Once 'Dead' For 15 Minutes


A veteran of 25 years in Uncle Sam's flying service is Col. Melvin B. Asp, commanding officer Drew Field.

In point of service, Col. Asp, who is a native Tampan, and who graduated from the Hillsborough High School in 1913, is one of the oldest fliers now stationed here.  He won his wings at Kelly Field, Texas, May 13, 1918, the same date he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant.

Col. Asp was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant on June 20, 1920, at Ellington Field, Texas; Captain July 1, 1932, at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama; Major September 1, 1939 at Langley Field, VA, and to Lieutenant Colonel on Feb. 1, 1941, at MacDill Field, Fla.  On Jan. 5, 1942, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel while serving as Commanding Officer, Army Air Base, Drew Field.

In 1925, while in Panama, the Colonel was involved in a collision in mid-air and was officially dead for fifteen minutes.  The following year he was advance officer on a Pan Americana goodwill flight around South America.

Co. Asp, the son of Mr. and Mrs. A. N. Asp of Sarasota, was born in Pueblo, Colorado, April 18, 1893.  He came to Tampa to live in 1907.


The Asplane
Photo from the collection of Dennis Cole


Joining the United States Army at Minneapolis, Minnesota on the 18th of June, 1916, the Colonel was transferred to the Air Corps shortly afterward.  Before entering the army he had attended the University of Minnesota.  In 1938, he graduated from the Air Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Ala.  An interesting bit of information regarding the Colonel is the fact that he designed the first successful light plane, the Asplane, which he flew from Ellington Field to Kelly Field, Texas, on its initial flight.

Since entering the service, the Colonel has been stationed on the Mexican border 1916-1917, Fort Snelling, Minn. 1917, University of Illinois 1917-1918, Kelly Field, Texas 1918-1919, Ellington Field Texas 1919-1923, Mitchell Field L.I. 1923, Panama Canal 1923-1927, Dayton Ohio 1927-1932, Maxwell Field Alabama 1932-1935, Langley Field Virginia 1935-1940, Tampa Army Air Base 1940-1942, and Commanding Officer, Army Air Base, Drew Field, which post he now holds.

The Colonel's favorite hobbies are wood-working, boat building, fishing and motion picture photography.  He is also an ardent circus fan.

From a 1998 Tampa Tribune newspaper:

Melvin B. Asp had a continuing association with Tampa's Drew Field - forerunner of today's Tampa International Airport.  Asp was captain of Hillsborough's 1912 football team. He played basketball as well and held the Tampa lightweight title in wrestling for a period. He was 5 feet 8 inches tall, still of slender build.  Asp, a stocky fellow who had moved to Tampa as a child, made lifelong friends who stuck by him through a 33-year military career. He died here in 1964 at the age of 71.


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