Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:

New York: Long Island, Nassau County

© 2002, © 2014 by Paul Freeman. Revised 4/6/14.

This site covers airfields in all 50 states: Click here for the site's main menu.

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Fitzmaurice Field (revised 9/30/13) - Grumman Bethpage (revised 11/10/13) - Hazelhurst Aviation Field #1 / Curtiss Flying Field / Roosevelt Field (revised 4/6/14)

Hicksville Aviation Country Club (revised 12/10/13) - Hazelhurst Aviation Field #2 / Mitchel Field / Mitchel AFB (revised 4/6/14)

Rogers Airport / Curtiss Airport / Columbia Aircraft Company (revised 12/24/13)

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Fitzmaurice Field, Massapequa Park, NY

40.69 North / 73.45 West (East of New York, NY)

A postmark commemorated the 5/11/29 Dedication of Fitzmaurice Flying Field.



A postmark commemorated the 5/11/29 Dedication of Fitzmaurice Flying Field,

described as "The world's first development with its own airport."



A photo from of the 5/12/29 dedication of Fitzmaurice Field.



According to the Massapequa Park website, Fitzmaurice Flying Field was dedicated on May 12, 1929.

The field was named after the world-famous Colonel James J. Fitzmaurice,

pilot of the "Bremen," the first lighter-than-air ship to reach North America from Europe.

A crowd estimated at 100,000 people visited Massapequa Park that day.



An article from the Daily News, covering the 5/12/29 dedication of Fitzmaurice Flying Field.



Fitzmaurice Field, as depicted on the 1930 "Rand McNally Standard Map of New Jersey With Air Trails" (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



An undated (circa 1930s?) photo (courtesy of Chester Hartwell) of a sign promoting a “hangar site purchased by the Airoscript Corp.

for the immediate erection of a 10 plane hangar, Fitzmaurice Field, Advance Aircraft Corp.”.



The earliest aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of Fitzmaurice Field was on the 1935 Regional Aeronautical Chart.

Strangely, it was depicted but not labeled.



An undated aerial photo (circa 1930s?) looking northeast at Fitzmaurice Field (the open rectangular area).

Note the grid of newly-constructed streets which had already begun to surround the field,

but the blocks within the streets were still filled by pine trees, not houses.

 

The April 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)

described Fitzmaurice Field as having an 1,800' unpaved runway,



Fitzmaurice Field was no longer listed among active airfields in the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock),

but it may simply have been overlooked as a relatively minor airfield.



Fitzmaurice Field was depicted as an auxiliary airfield on the 1945 NY Sectional Chart (courtesy of Robert Brown).



Chris Bobka recalled, “My old instructor, Tom Murphy, I think was the manager of Fitzmaurice Airport after the war.”



A circa 1946-51 photo of the "Gyroport" facilities of the Gyrodyne Company at Fitzmaurice Field.



Perhaps the most interesting chapter in the life of this little-known airfield came in 1946,

when helicopter pioneer Peter Papadakos bought the assets of the bankrupt Bendix Helicopter company

and founded the Gyrodyne Company of America.

A small hangar facility was leased by Gyrodyne at Fitzmaurice Field,

and it was there that the Gyrodyne Model 2B compound helicopter was developed

and eventually performed demonstrated flights for seven Air Force pilots.



The 1947 USGS topo map depicted Fitzmaurice Field, along with a dizzying array of other general aviation airports,

almost all of which are long-gone.



A 1947 USGS topo map depicted Fitzmaurice Field as a rectangular property, with a single hangar along the north side.



A photo of damage caused to planes at Fitzmaurice Field from an 11/25/50 storm (courtesy of Charles Feldman).

 

By 1951 the growing Gyrodyne Company purchased land for a dedicated airfield & production complex in nearby St. James,

and relocated from Fitzmaurice Field to what became known as the "Flowerfield" site.

 

Fitzmaurice Field was still depicted on the 1950 NY Sectional Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe).

 

According to the Massapequa Park website, Fitzmaurice Field closed in 1951.

Other sources give the closing date as 1953.

Ironically, the airport was apparently a victim of the development that it was intended to attract.



The last photo which has been located which shows any trace of Fitzmaurice Field was a 1953 aerial view.

The 2 unpaved runways were still recognizable, and hangars still remained standing on the west side of the field.

But construction had already begun on a school which would cover the southern portion of the former airport.



The site of Fitzmaurice Field eventually became the location of the McKenna & Hawthorn public schools,

and it was labeled as Hathorn School on the 1954 USGS topo map.



By the time of the 1957 NY Sectional Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe),

it was no longer depicted at all.



A 1980 aerial view showed that the 2 schools had completely covered the site of Fitzmaurice Field,

with not a trace remaining of the little airport.



As seen in a 5/4/09 aerial photo, the site of the former airport was covered by 2 schools & dense housing.

Not a trace of the airfield appeared to remain.



The site of Fitzmaurice Field is located at the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue & Smith Street.

The names of several nearby streets bear homage to the former airfield,

including Fitzmaurice Street & Lindbergh Street.

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Hicksville Aviation Country Club, Hicksville, NY

40.74 North / 73.53 West (East of New York, NY)

A 6/29/29 photo of a TAT Ford Trimotor, visiting the Hicksville Aviation Country Club on its Opening Day (courtesy of Mark Hess).



According to an article by John Fleischman in the 2/99 issue of Air & Space / Smithsonian Magazine,

this airfield was founded by an elite group of fliers who formed what they thought would be

the first of a string of aviation country clubs that would extend from coast to coast.

A national committee had been formed in April 1928 to issue charters,

and at one point, 114 such clubs were supposedly in the works.



The Hicksville Long Island Aviation Country Club was co-founded by Darwin Adams, according to his obituary (according to Raya Koren).

 

Charles Lindbergh was a charter member of the Aviation Country Club in 1929.

He was brought in by its first president, Charles Lanier Lawrance,

who'd designed the Wright J5C Whirlwind air-cooled radial engine for the Spirit of St. Louis.

Lindbergh, who had just married Anne Morrow that May, taught his bride to fly at the club.

The club's treasurer was another giant of the aeronautics industry, Chance Vought,

and the board was fleshed out with society types, such as Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney

and Reginald Langhorne "Peter" Brooks, a band leader & a superb young pilot (he was also the nephew of Lady Astor).



According to Mark Hess, “Hicksville Aviation Country Club opened on 6/29/29.

It was also known as the Long Island Aviation Club.

It was funded by F. Trubee Davison, Assistant Secretary of War for Aeronautics.”



The earliest photo which has been located of Hicksville Aviation Country Club

was a 6/29/29 photo of a TAT Ford Trimotor visiting on its Opening Day (courtesy of Mark Hess).



The 1929 opening of the Aviation Country Club turned out to be very unfortunate timing,

as the stock market crashed 4 months later.



Hicksville Aviation Country Club Airfield, as depicted on the 1929 Washington-NYC Air Navigation Map #3.



The Sportsman Pilot wrote in 1929:

"The Long Island club is no longer a test tube. It may have been an experimental device at first.

Now it has been elevated from the laboratory. It has become a beacon for guidance of other club units...

The Hicksville club has not contented itself with fair-weather flying & tea at the clubhouse,

skeptical suspicions to the contrary notwithstanding."



A set of undated photos from a 1929 magazine article showing the Hicksville Aviation Country Club clubhouse, hangar, and several planes (courtesy of Mark Hess).



According to an article in the 2/14/30 Long-Islander newspaper (courtesy of Mark Hess),

The club obtained the use of approximately 200 acres of land for a flying field.

The field lies between Woodbury Road & the L.I. Railroad, adjacent to the farm of Mr. Blyman.

Louis Mussel, who will soon have his pilots license, is very kindly going to give free flight instruction to all club members.

Joseph Byrne, an engineer, is the clubs chief technical instructor.”



The earliest map depiction of the Aviation Country Club which has been located

was on the 1930 "Rand McNally Standard Map of New Jersey With Air Trails" (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



For all the snobbish overtones, the Long Island club was set up for serious flying.

A huge hangar was built, 200' wide by 60' deep.

Until the Second World War, 2 mechanics were on duty every day

with 4 helpers to gas up the airplanes with high-octane fuel,

push them onto the line, and hand-prop the engines.



An undated street map depicted the Long Island Aviation Country Club as a mostly rectangular property with a small angular extension on the northwest corner.



An undated aerial phot depicted the Hicksville Aviation Country Club as a rectangular grass airfield with a few small buildings along the south side.



The 1934 U.S. Navy Aviation Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted the Long Island Aviation Country Club as consisting of a rectangular-shaped field.

 

The "Aviation Country Club" was depicted on the 1935 Regional Aeronautical Chart as a commercial or municipal airport.



The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo)

described the "Long Island Aviation Country Club" as having a sod rectangular landing area, measuring 2,200' x 1,500'.



The earliest photo which has been located of the Hicksville Aviation Country Club was a 1937 aerial view,

showing a large number iof single-engine monoplanes & biplanes in front of a substantial hangar alongside a grass airfield.



A 1937 photo of a Fairchild 24H in front of a Hicksville Aviation Country Club hangar.



Alan Reddig recalled, “My father, James Reddig, who was Grover Loening's Assistant Chief Engineer,

was an early member, and he had many fond memories of the Club.

I have Charles Lindbergh's autograph in the form of his pledge card

for one of the club's annual Christmas gift fund collections for the club's staff.

My father said that one of the last times he saw Lindbergh at the club

was when, a few day's after the Lindbergh baby had been kidnapped,

Lindbergh landed at the club to refuel before flying on with some police on board

to follow up on a tip that the baby might be somewhere in New England.

Dad said that everyone kept a respectful distance

as Lindbergh went about checking out the plane

for the hop over Long Island Sound while the ground crew was fueling it.”



An undated (circa 1939?) aerial photo (courtesy of Bob Levittan).

The original caption read, "The latest types of private planes assembled

on the flying field of the Aviation Country Club at Hicksville, L.I.

on June 30 for the club's 4th annual private Demonstration Air Meet.

 

An article (courtesy of Bob Levittan) described the club as follows:

"The Aviation Country Club, which is at Hicksville, is the swankiest of its kind in the country.

There are dozens of other flying clubs in the U. S., the most active ones lying west of the Alleghenies.

But most of them use commercial hangars & airports.

Often enough they consist of a group of enthusiasts who own a secondhand Waco & take off from a cow pasture.

The Aviation Country Club, however, counts 175 wealthy flying members.

Of these, 76 own their own planes & most of the rest are licensed pilots.

The Club's swimming pool, tennis courts & clubhouse (with 4 bedrooms) are frills.

The members really pay their $250 initiation fee & the $150/year dues

because the Club offers useful facilities for their planes:

a landing field, a big hangar, mechanics, fuel & oil.

It has a flying instructor, just as another country club would have a golf pro. It rents & sells planes.

Every now & then, it stages an air demonstration, comparable to an invitation golf match,

to which plane makers send their products & pilots."

 

An undated (circa 1939?) aerial photo (courtesy of Bob Levittan).

The original caption read, "Aviation Country Club at Hicksville, L.I.

is the only one which boasts clubhouse, tennis court, swimming pool as well as hangar."

 

An undated (circa 1939?) photo (courtesy of Bob Levittan)

of several planes at the Aviation Country Club, including Stinson, Waco, and Fairchild.

 

An undated (circa 1939?) aerial photo (courtesy of Bob Levittan).

The original caption read, "Members & guests of Aviation Country Club watch a Luscombe monoplane fly at air demonstration.

In formation is a Lockheed."

 

An undated (circa 1939?) aerial photo (courtesy of Bob Levittan).

The original caption read, "The hangar at the club is a major reason for becoming a member.

Here 20 fair-sized planes can be stored at once.

Mechanics offer complete repair service, keeping an active watch on all members' planes,

giving them a thorough overhauling every 25 flying hours."

 

In nearly 20 years of flight operations,

the club never had a serious accident resulting in injury - not even at the annual airshow.

Instead of death-defying stunts & hell-for-leather pylon races,

manufacturers used the show to put on dignified exhibitions of their latest products.

The Flying Committee's 1939 invitation to manufacturers made the tone of the event clear.

"Each demonstrator will be asked to demonstrate his ship in the air for approximately 5 or 6 minutes.

The Committee will permit no stunting, excessive pull-offs & climbs or unorthodox maneuvering,

the demonstration being purely to show off the ship's best qualities.

It is important that each demonstrator realize that he is not in competition & also that no sales approaches be made."

 

The chance to present the best aircraft to the best people was irresistible to those in the business

(many of whom belonged to the club anyway),

and the shows were hugely successful - too successful in some ways.

Club members & demonstrators were issued entry ribbons,

but keeping the ordinary people of Hicksville away was difficult.

They lined the roads & trespassed on the airfield for a glimpse of the amazing craft on display or flying by.

In 1939, the club had TWA's "stratosphere laboratory plane" & a trio of Goodyear blimps,

as well as flybys from Pan Am's Sikorsky S-42 Bermuda Clipper flying boat & the Douglas DC-4 prototype.

The crowds, both beribboned & uninvited, were enthralled.

 

From the beginning the club was a perfect place to fly, recalled former member Betty Gillies.

It had 100 acres, most of it an "all directions" grass landing field in the midst of an endless plain of potatoes.

In case of a forced landing, the potato fields were a great reassurance, said Gillies.

Betty's first ship was a de Havilland 60 X Moth.

She bought it from Grover Loening, who had the airplane shipped from Britain.

His aeronautical engineering firm put it on floats,

and Bud Gillies, Betty's husband, was Loening's test pilot.

When Loening was done, Loening sold the Moth to Betty.

She put it back on wheels.

"We were in the business," Gillies explained matter-of-factly, "so we had the airplanes."

 

The club's mix of status, wealth, and insider connections produced some unusual scenes on the flightline.

The club newsletter noted in August 1938

that "Mr. Roy Grumman is now keeping his new G-32A in the hangar.

It is a 2-place conversion of the Navy F-3-F fighter with an 830 HP Cyclone.

It can climb to 12,500 feet in 5 minutes."

Imagine a modern day "Mr. Grumman" rolling up at a general aviation field

in a civilian version of his company's Navy F-14 Tomcat.

The same issue noted that Mr. Howard Hughes had dropped by the club

at the conclusion of his record 3 & a half day around-the-world flight

and had been ferried back to Newark Airport in the club's Stinson.

 

WW2 seemed to help the club in the first months; flying lessons were in high demand.

Barbara Kibbee Jayne was hired by Bud Gillies early in 1942 as the club's chief instructor.

He'd flown up to Troy, New York, where Jayne had just qualified

as the first woman instructor in the new Civilian Pilot Training Program, just to talk her into it.

After she reported for work in Hicksville, there weren't enough hours in the day.

She taught 7 days a week, dawn to dusk.

"All kinds of people went out & learned to fly," she says.

"To this day, I can't think of anything more thrilling than a first solo.

It was just you & God."

 

Despite the workload, teaching flying at the club was fun for Jayne in ways that it never was after the war.

In 1942 aviation fuel was not yet being rationed,

and members could still fly up to Nova Scotia to pick up salmon or down to the Chesapeake Bay to hunt ducks.

Some club members joined the Civil Air Patrol & were sent out to monitor the coast,

where they "spotted quite a few submarines off the island," Jayne recalls.

 

Over time, the fabric-covered biplanes were joined by high-wing monoplanes such as the Fairchild Ranger,

and then the first all-metal sport aircraft, such as the Ryan S-T.

These & other models are the signature airplanes of what historians now call the Golden Age of Aviation.

Other aircraft based at or visiting the club included the Beech 17,

Bellanca Skyrocket, Lockheed 10, Boeing 247-D, and Grumman G-21.



A 10/1/42 aerial view looking north at the Aviation Country Club Airport from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock)

depicted the field as an open grass area.



As the war continued, the club found it harder & harder to retain good help.

Jayne says Grumman would lend mechanics to the club for a day or an afternoon.

By then, the club's wartime flying days were numbered.

Jayne herself was spending more & more time test flying production aircraft at Grumman.

Many of the club's women members had gone into the service as ferry pilots.

Jayne is not sure exactly when the club suspended operations for the duration of the war,

but almost her last memory of the club was of a party there -

not a high-society event but a wedding thrown by the Polish refugee couple who served as the live-in housekeeper & cook.

 

The April 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)

described the Aviation Country Club as having a 2,400' unpaved runway.



The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described the Aviation Country Club Airport

as an 80 acre irregularly-shaped property within which were 2 sand & sod runways, with the longest being the 2,400' east/west strip.

The field was said to have a single 200' x 60' brick & wood hangar,

and to be privately owned & operated.



A June 1946 photo (courtesy of Gerry Masher) of a Vultee BT-13B/SNV-2 NX60496 & the sole example built of the 1934 Waco S3HD

at what was described only as “a country club on Long Island” (presumably Hicksville).

This is the last photo which has been located of the Hicksville airfield.

John Ricciotti reported in 2013, “The 1934 Waco S3HD was ordered & bought by Miles Vernon whose address at the time was 1 Wall St, NY, NY.

I purchased it last month. It was last rebuilt in 1964 and is in immaculate condition today.

The S3HD was the only civilian version built of Waco's military fighter bomber.

The S3HD has a Pratt & Whitney R985 Wasp Junior engine. It is quite a performer.”



The 1947 USGS topo map depicted Hicksville “Aviation Country Club” Airfield, along with a dizzying array of other airfields,

almost all of which are long-gone.



The 1:24,000 1947 USGS topo map depicted Hicksville “Aviation Country Club Airport” as an open area with 2 small buildings along the south side.



Former airfield worker Alfred Merrill did not get back to Long Island to visit his parents until the spring of 1948,

only to be told the club had just closed permanently.

Standing outside his parents' house in Hicksville, he found the silence strange.

There were no small aircraft taking off from the club airfield.

On another visit, Merrill drove over to see for himself.

"The place had been bulldozed & they were building Levittown," he recalls.

"The buildings were gone. What happened to all our planes I can't say, but everything was gone."

 

For some, that's the final irony of the Aviation Country Club of Long Island: It's buried under Levittown.

What was once an elite social club in pre-war America

was sold off for post-war America's most famous mass-housing development.

For former members like Betty Gillies, the memory of the club's end was painful.

"That horrible time," she said. "Those little houses. Hundreds of them."

 

The club had fallen victim to rising land values.

While Hicksville was charmingly rural in 1929, by the late 1940s it was about to become solidly suburban.

And as the houses closed in, it became dangerous to operate an airfield.

When William Levitt offered $2,200 an acre,

the club ceased flying in May 1948 & began looking for a new home.



An undated (circa 1940s?) photo of the Long Island Aviation Club hangar looking east from the Motor Parkway.



The Aviation Country Club hangar was taken down in the late 1940s by Levitt & Sons.

The hangar was reportedly reassembled in Bethpage & used to manufacture pre-fabricated sections of the Levitt homes,

and then served for years as a perfume factory, then a pickle works, and finally a tuxedo warehouse.

Local historians say parts of other club buildings were trucked away & incorporated into 5 private homes.



 

The last depiction which has been located of the Hicksville airfield was on the 1950 NY Sectional Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe).

It depicted the Hicksville "Country Club" airfield as having a 2,300' unpaved runway.



The club planning committee found a new site in 1950, a small private airport at Commack.

The members, however, had lost interest, and that August, 90% voted to dissolve the club forever.



A 1953 aerial photo showed the site of the former airport to be occupied by dense housing,

with not a trace of the airfield still recognizable.



As seen in a 2002 aerial photo, the site of the former airport is occupied by dense housing.



Today a street in Hicksville called Pilots Lane

is essentially the only sign that the Aviation Country Club of Long Island ever existed.



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Grumman Bethpage Airfield (BPA), Bethpage, NY

40.75 North / 73.49 West (West of Republic Airport, Long Island, NY)

Grumman's Bethpage Airfield, as depicted on the August 1938 NY Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



This was the factory airfield of the Grumman Aircraft Corporation,

which relocated from Farmingdale to Bethpage in 1936.

Thousands of aircraft were eventually produced at the factory.



The earliest depiction which has been located of Grumman's Bethpage Airfield

was on the August 1938 NY Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



A February 1938 photo of Grumman F3F-2 biplane fighters on the Bethpage assembly line (Navy Historical Center photo).



A 1940 photo of the sole prototype of Grumman's XF5F-1 Skyrocket being run up at the Bethpage plant, after modification to nose & added spinners.



A 10/1/42 aerial view looking southeast at Grumman Airport from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock)

depicted the field as having 2 paved runways.



Grumman's Bethpage Plant 3 was built from scrap steel from the New York City El specifically for the production of the F6F Hellcat.



Mark Ball recalled working at "Bethpage as a production test pilot from November 1943 until September 1945."

He flew everything from F6F Hellcats, F7F Tigercats, F8F Bearcats, to Widgeon amphibians.

Mark recalled that the primary runway was repaved & lengthened by 1,000' in 1945,

a process which involved temporarily operating from shortened portions of the main runway,

and at one point led to operating solely from the much shorter crosswind runway.

While this was fine for the smaller F6F & amphibians,

it wasn't very comfortable for the twin-engine F7F Tigercat fighter,

with its much longer runway requirements.

 

F6F Hellcats are assembled on Grumman's Bethpage production floor in 1944.



The 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)

described Grumman Bethpage Field as having a 5,400' hard-surfaced runway,



A 1945 photo of rows of Grumman F6F Hellcats being readied for delivery from the Bethpage plant.



Grumman's Bethpage Airfield, as depicted on the 1945 NY Sectional Chart.



The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described Grumman Airport

as a 110 acre irregularly-shaped property within which were 2 blacktop runways runways, with the longest being the 5,400' northwest/southeast strip.

The field was said to have four 140' square brick hangars,

and to be privately owned & operated.



Grumman's Bethpage Plant 2 had a USAAF code of “GR” during WW2.

Through the end of 1946, it produced a total of 1,768 F4Fs, 364 F7Fs, 144 J2F-5s, 2,293 TBFs,

and an unspecified number of F8Fs, G-21As, and G-44s.



Grumman's Bethpage Plant 3 produced a staggering total of 12,275 F6Fs during WW2,

back when Americans actually manufactured things.



The 1947 USGS topo map depicted “Grumman Airport”, along with a dizzying array of other airfields,

almost all of which are long-gone.



An undated (1940s?) aerial view looking northwest at the Grumman Bethpage airfield.



A 1952 profile of the XF10-1 Jaguar prototype at Bethpage (courtesy of Brett).



A 1952 front view of the XF10-1 Jaguar prototype at Bethpage in 1952 (courtesy of Brett).



A 1953 aerial view depicted Bethpage as having 2 paved runways still in use,

with dozens of aircraft on the west & east sides of the field.



A closeup from the 1953 aerial view showing large numbers of newly-built Grumman aircraft on Bethpage's northeast ramp.



A 1956 photo of S2F-1 Trackers on the Bethpage production line.



In a 1960 aerial view looking northeast at the Bethpage airfield,

two runways appeared to still be in use,

with a third former runway used for aircraft parking.



Grumman Bethpage Field was described by the 1962 AOPA Airport Directory

as having 2 paved runways.



Frank Dioguardi recalled, “I started on the line in Calverton 1962 & worked my way up, with Corky Meyer’s help.

I flew for Grumman 1966-73. I was Flt 73 (Grumman Pilot Number).

Corky Meyer was Grumman Flt 25, Earnest Rorer Flt 65, Dick Bauer Flt 66.”



A 1965 Grumman map of their airfield & adjacent facilities.



A 1966 aerial view depicted a smattering of aircraft around the Bethpage field.



An undated view of NASA's Shuttle Training Aircraft (a modified Grumman Gulfstream II) at Bethpage (courtesy of Brett).



Don Vining recalled, “I worked for Grumman Data Systems in Plant 40 (now Briarcliffe College) through most of the 1970s

and enjoyed watching the F-14 perform in several company airshows in Calverton,

but the best show I ever saw was when I watched an F-14 takeoff from the Bethpage air strip around 1976-77.

At that time Grumman was upgrading the electronics in the F-14 in Bethpage & would quietly fly in about 1 jet per month.

A friend of mine who was a flight test engineer in Calverton called one day & told me an F-14 was scheduled to takeoff in a half hour.

So we drove out to the airstrip & literally stood right on the edge as the plane taxied out.

The test pilot waved as he went by.

He turned around at the end of the airstrip (right up against South Oyster Bay Road),

lit his afterburners, and did a full-performance takeoff right in front of us!

By the time he reached the halfway point where I think a small tower was located,

he looked like he was going straight up & I could see his wings folding back as he disappeared into the clouds.

The noise was incredible & the air was crackling like when a Saturn V was being launched.

Apparently those test pilots could get away with anything!”



Grumman Bethpage Field, as depicted on the 1979 NY Terminal Control Area Chart (courtesy of Bill Suffa).

 

The 1979 USGS topo map depicted a total of 3 runways at the Grumman Bethpage Airfield.



The Grumman Bethpage airfield was still depicted as an active airfield on the 1979 NY TCA chart (courtesy of Bill Suffa).

It was depicted as having 2 paved runways,

with the longest being the 6,600' northwest/southeast runway.



The last photo which has been located showing any fixed-wing aircraft at the Bethpage Airfield was a 1980 aerial view.

It depicted a single E-2 & another twin-turboprop on the east side of the field,

as well as 5 light aircraft (flying club aircraft?).



By the time of the 1982 AOPA Airport Directory (courtesy of Ed Drury),

Grumman Bethpage Field was reduced to a single active runway (6,000' concrete Runway 15/33).



The Bethpage airfield was surrounded by extremely dense development,

leaving insufficient room to operate modern high performance jet aircraft.

For this reason, production & flight test of Grumman's last jet aircraft designs (A-6 & F-14)

were conducted at the newly-constructed Calverton Naval Weapons Plant Airfield further east on Long Island.



The last aeronautical chart depiction which has been located showing the Grumman Bethpage airfield still in operation

was on a 1987 NY Terminal Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Gwen Shafer).

It depicted Bethpage as having a single 6,600' paved northwest/southeast runway, and a Non-Federal Control Tower.



The sole remaining Grumman aircraft production line (the E-2 Hawkeye) was relocated in the 1990s to St. Augustine, FL.



The Bethpage airfield was closed at some point between 1987-94,

as the 1994 USGS aerial photo showed closed-runway X markings on the primary runway.

Portions of at 2 other runways still existed.

 

The Grumman airfield was still shown on the 1997 NY Sectional Chart as an abandoned airfield.

 

A 1997 aerial view by Tom Kramer looking southeast at the closed Grumman airfield.

 

A 1999 aerial view looking east at the remains of the Grumman Bethpage Airfield by Philip Kineyko.



A circa 2001-2005 aerial photo looking south at what appear to be former hangars at the Bethpage complex,

with some of the remainder of the runway pavement along the bottom-left.



Carlton Klein reported, “The old Grumman plant still has one significant aviation usage (at least it did in 2001 when I was last there):

it is used as a base for one of Nassau County Police Department's Bell 206L LongRanger helicopters.

I used to live on Eastern Long Island & took the Long Island Railroad into NYC for work everyday;

we would go right by Bethpage & often I would see the helicopter being wheeled out of the hangar on a dolly.

They also had some sort of motorpool there

as there were always several patrol cars in various states of disrepair in a parking lot nearby.”



Tom Kramer reported from an overflight in 2003 that

"about a quarter of the runway remains & parts of the main ramp.

Since construction is already completed of the office park

(except for a field adjacent to the runway on the eastern side),

I don't think the remaining runway will be torn up completely anytime soon.

They built a road along & over it's western edge

and a new watertower is about 100' from it's eastern edge.

Two closed X's are clearly visible."



What a sad end for a historic airfield,

where thousands of our country's military aircraft were built & took their first flights.



A 2005 aerial photo by Paul Freeman, taken from a Diamond Eclipse at 8,000 feet, looking northeast at the former Grumman Bethpage Airfield.



As of 2005, the Nassau County Police Heliport (8NY9) is listed as an active heliport

on the northeast side of the former Bethpage airfield.

The heliport is listed as having 4 helicopters based at the facility.



A circa 2006-2009 photo (courtesy of Fred Miller)

of the 2nd-to-last built F-14D Tomcat (“Felix 101”, BuNo 164603) displayed outside the Northrop Grumman facilities at Bethpage.

Fred reported that Felix 101 was shut down for the last time at nearby Republic Airport on October 4, 2006

and trucked to Bethpage for display.



An undated (pre-2007) photo of the remains of a former runway or taxiway at Bethpage.



Two undated (pre-2007) photos of the several former hangars at Bethpage.



Dave Accetta reported in 2007, “Rainbow Cablevision has taken over much of the existing buildings on the old Grumman Bethpage Airport.

They use the active heliport quite often for their Sikorsky S-76s, based out of Farmingdale.

Inside the buildings you will find a massive telecommunications facility that houses the broadcasting center for Rainbow.

Many of the areas are placarded as to what the building formerly housed.

I remember one in particular that mention that the room I was in was where the Grumman section of the Apollo lunar modules were built.”



Ken Thalheimer reported in 2009 that the completed display of the F-14 at Bethpage is “floodlit at night with changing colors.”

He also reported, “In the field by the water tower which is the old main runway a local Honda dealer has built their service department.

A large building with a huge storage lot for new inventory which backs up to the LIRR tracks. The facility was recently completed.”



As of 2009, a portion of the massive Grumman facility was being reused as Grumman Studios,

a “160,000 square foot facility with 7 huge stages, massive storage facilities, acres & acres of paved outdoor space.

The birthplace of the Apollo lunar landing module has given rise to NY’s largest production facility – Grumman Studios.”



A February 2009 photo of an HH-60 Blackhawk fuselage being lifted at Grumman Studios for the filming of the movie Salt.



A circa 2012 floorplan of the “Grumman Studios”, which occupy a portion of the former Grumman Bethpage facilities.



An undated (pre-2013) photo of the Grumman Studios' “Stage 1”.



See also:

http://www.lihistory.com/specpio/runway1.htm

http://www.lihistory.com/9/hs9grum.htm

____________________________________________________

 

Hazelhurst Aviation Field #1 / Curtiss Flying Field / Roosevelt Field, Garden City, NY

40.74 North / 73.6 West (East of Manhattan, NY)

"Hazelhurst Aviation Field #1" & "Aviation Field #2", as depicted on the 1918 USGS topo map.



Two airfields, separated by a 15' high bluff, were established here in 1911.

They were collectively known as Hempstead Plains Field.

The 2 fields were taken over by the Army in 1917 & renamed Hazelhurst Field.



It was labeled as "Hazelhurst Aviation Field #1" on the 1918 USGS topo map.



The Army renamed the east field as Roosevelt Field in 1918.



The British dirigible R-34 landed at Roosevelt Field in 1919

after the first east-to-west nonstop transatlantic flight.



A 1919 photo of one of only 5 Curtuss Model 19 Eagles, seen at Curtiss Field.

The Eagle featured an enclosed passenger cabin & cockpit, but the anticipated postwar aviation boom did not materialize.



The west field was known as Curtiss Field by the 1920s.



A 5/15/21 photo captioned “Opening day Curtiss Flying Field Garden City” (courtesy of Tom Heitzman)

showed many spectators & aircraft in front of the row of hangars.



Roosevelt Field, as depicted on the 1923 New York – Bellefonte Air Navigation Map #3 (courtesy of David Brooks),

along with the nearby Mitchel Field & Hazelhurst Field.



A circa 1923-26 photo of a S-29A (Sikorsky’s first airplane built in America, purchased by Curlee Clothing)

in front of a hangar marked “Sikorsky Manufacturing Corporation” at Roosevelt Field.

The flying activities of Sikorsky were conducted at Roosevelt Field during that timeframe.



“Government Field #1” & “Government Field #2”, as depicted (the red rectangles) on a circa 1924 Sperry Instruments map of landing fields (courtesy of Tom Heitzman).



In 1925 the Ireland Aircraft Company, specializing in amphibians, was established at Curtiss Field.



A 5/20/27 photo of Charles Lindbergh's historic departure from the eastern portion of Roosevelt Field (Hazelhurst Field)

in the Spirit of St. Louis on the first solo transatlantic flight.



The 1927 Department of Commerce Airway Bulletin (courtesy of David Brooks)

depicted “Curtiss Flying Field” as being located to the west of “Hazelhurst Field”,

and to the north of the Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company.

Curtis Field was described as consisting of a 100 acre rectangular property

containing a sod flying field measuring 3,000' east/west.

Two rows of hangars were depicted on the west & north sides of the field.



A 1927 aerial view looking northeast showing the factory of the h of the Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company in the foreground,

and the Curtiss Flying Field in the background.



A circa-1920s aerial view (courtesy of Bill Larkins) depicted a large gathering of Army biplanes near the single hangar of the Hazelhurst Field (east) portion of Roosevelt Field.



A 1928 photo (courtesy of Tom Heitzman) of a collection of biplanes in front of a row of hangars at Roosevelt Field.



A 1928 photo of an unidentified man & an Ireland Neptune amphibian in front of a Roosevelt Field hangar.



An undated (circa 1928-30) photo (courtesy of Tom Heitzman) of Russ Simpson's Swallow biplane in front of a crazy-shaped hangar at Hempstead (Roosevelt Field).



A 1929 NY Legislative Report (courtesy of Tom Heitzman) depicted “Curtiss Flying Field” as being located to the west of “Hazelhurst Field”,

and to the north of the “Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company” & Mitchel Field – a dense assemblage of aviation.

Curtis Field was described as consisting of a 100 acre rectangular property

containing a sod flying field measuring 3,000' east/west.

Two rows of hangars were depicted on the west & north sides of the field.



According to Peter Maefield's 1972 Wings Club of NYC speech (courtesy of Dave Kanzeg),

In 1929, before the depression, Roosevelt Field Inc. bought out both Lannin & Curtiss.

The name Curtiss Field was then changed to 'Roosevelt Field Unit 2'.

After that 'Roosevelt Field Unit 1' (East) & 'Roosevelt Field Unit 2' (West) were operated as one unit

connected by an oiled ramp 500' long by 150' wide at the North end of the 12' grade which cut through the 2 units from North to South.”



A 1929 photo of the “Green Flash” Bellanca Type J at Roosevelt Field.



A 1929 photo of an unidentified man in front of the sole example of the Curtiss-Bleecker Helicopter at Roosevelt Field.

The Curtiss-Bleecker Helicopter was designed by Maitland Bleecker & built by Curtiss in nearby Garden City.

It was reputed to have made several brief flights, but it was not pursued due to instability.



A 1929 photo of the French Bernard 191 GR "Yellow bird" in front of the Air Associates hangar at Roosevelt Field (courtesy of Michel Boquet).

According to Michel, “It is in this hangar that, in May 1929, the plane was prepared for its successful transatlantic flight

from Old Orchard Beach (Maine) to Comillas (Spain) on 6/13/29.

The crew members were Assollant, Lefevre and Lotti, plus the young American stowaway Arthur Schreiber.”



A 1929 photo at Roosevelt Field of one of only 3 Curtiss Model 40 Carrier Pigeon Iis built nearby at the “Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company”.

The Model 40s had been built for National Air Transport as mailplanes, powered by a 600hp Curtiss Conqueror engine.



At least 30 Ireland Neptune amphibians were produced at Roosevelt Field until 1930.



Roosevelt Field, as depicted on the 1930 "Rand McNally Standard Map of New Jersey With Air Trails" (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



A 1930 aerial view looking west at “Curtiss Field” (courtesy of Amy Bentley),

showing the row of hangars along the west side (one marked “Air Associates”).

At least 7 aircraft were visible on the field, as well as a large number of cars & people.



A 1931 aerial view looking east at Roosevelt Field,

showing the long row of hangars on the north side of the field & numerous other buildings.



A circa early 1930s aerial view looking west at the 2 airfields, showing Charles Lindbergh's takeoff route from the eastern portion of Roosevelt Field (Hazelhurst Field),

with the western portion of Roosevelt Field (the former Curtiss Field) visible in the background.



A 1931 photo of one of only 6 Fleetwings F-5 Seabird amphibians produced at Roosevelt Field.

The F-5 was a 5-seater that was produced entirely of spot-welded stainless steel.



A 1932 photo by John Willmott “of a Lockheed Sirius at the Hangar 5 of the row of new hangars along the north side of Roosevelt Field

when I was thrown out of high school & working for Air Associates at old Hangar 1 on the west end of the field.”



A 1932 photo by John Willmott of “Frank Hawks's Texaco 13 [Travel Air Mystery Ship] in which he made many record flights.

For the age of this picture, 77 years ago & made with a single meniscus Kodak Box Camera, it's not too bad a shot.

During my free time - and in between on errands - I spent time all over the field,

especially Hangar 5 where the exotic planes were & next door where there were seaplanes.”



A 1932 aerial view by John Willmott of Roosevelt Field.

John recalled, “This is what I saw flying Leo Lowe's OX Waco after my 1st solo

and becoming a commercial pilot on my 2nd solo carrying 4 kids on planks in the cut out enlarged front cockpit.

It would carry 2 not-too-over-gross adults & maybe a kid in the lap in that cockpit.

After that, I got to fly a bunch of different ones like the Gypsy Moth.

License? What's a license? Oh, one of those small pieces of paper.

Some guy eventually asked to see mine after someone said I was flying passengers without a license.

I said when? What plane? That one. Oh, you mean thaaaat one.

Well uh uh I flew it solo but likely wouldn't without a license - would I?

Well, I didn't see you do it & if you do I'm gonna haul you off to jail & fine you. YES SIR! Gotcha!”



 An undated aerial view looking northeast at Roosevelt Field,

from The Airport Directory Company's 1933 Airports Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

 

Two undated photos of hangars at Roosevelt Field

from The Airport Directory Company's 1933 Airports Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

The directory described Roosevelt Field as having three 2,000' asphalt runways.

A large number of hangars was depicted along the west & north sides of the field.

The General Manager was listed as George Orr,

and dozens of companies were listed as having operations at the field.

 

Roosevelt Field, as depicted on the 1934 U.S. Navy Aviation Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



Aircraft manufacturer Fleetwings moved from Roosevelt Field to Pennsylvania in 1934.



A Flight Simulator scenery re-creation by Richard Finley of an American Airlines Curtiss Condor overflying Roosevelt Field.



In 1934, Georgian emigre Micheal Gregor founded Gregor Aircraft at Roosevelt Field.

Gregor's first product was the 2-seat sport biplane GR-1.



A circa 1935 photo of a Gregor GR-2 in front of the Gregor Aircraft Corporation facility at Roosevelt Field's Hangar B.



A circa 1935 photo of Aline Rhonie painting a huge aviation-themed fresco mural on an interior wall of Roosevelt Field's Hangar F.



According to Peter Maefield's 1972 Wings Club of NYC speech (courtesy of Dave Kanzeg),

In 1935 Unit 1 [the eastern airfield] was leased for the construction of an automobile race track to replace the Vanderbilt Parkway.”

Curtiss Field was then renamed Roosevelt Field.



Roosevelt Field, as depicted on the 1935 Regional Aeronautical Chart.



Aron Krantz recalled of Roosevelt Field, “My dad Duke Krantz was the Daily News pilot there circa 1930-1940 period.”



An undated (circa 1930s?) aerial view looking northeast at Roosevelt Field.



An aerial view looking southeast at Roosevelt Field

from The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo).

The directory tagged Roosevelt Field as "The center of commercial aviation in the east."

It was described as having three 2,000' asphalt runways.

The aerial photo in the directory depicted a long row of hangars along the north & west sides of the field.



A number of vintage advertisements for firms based at Roosevelt Field,

from The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo).

Many aviation business operated out of Roosevelt Field,

including Aeronautical Radio Company, Waco Sales of New York, Pester's Propeller Service,

C. Foley Company, Aero Trades Company, Northern State Airways, and Leech Aircraft.



A 1939 photo of perhaps the most unusual of the amazing assortment of aircraft built at Roosevelt Field: the sole prototype Koun Aircraft Dirigible Helicopter,

which was built over the course of 5 years by Young Ho Koun (pictured in the cockpit, the first Chinese American to develop an aircraft).

This extremely unorthodox machine featured 2 large wing-mounted boxes filled with compressed helium & a Continental engine which could be tilted vertically.

The CAA gave the aircraft a registration number, but not an experimental certificate.

The sole flight attempt was performed in front of media.

After many failed engine start attempts, the engine was started without the pilot & the vehicle was damaged while securing it.

The aircraft was not publicly displayed again, and was never able to achieve flight.



A 1941 advertisement for the amazing assemblage of aviation businesses at Roosevelt Airport (courtesy of Sparky).



According to Peter Maefield's 1972 Wings Club of NYC speech (courtesy of Dave Kanzeg),

Roosevelt Field had shrunk from the original 2-field complex of 700 acres in 1918

to a single field of some 240 acres by the start of the Second World War.

During World War 2 Roosevelt Field was a pilot & ground training center

and also a Modification Center for American aircraft being supplied to the Royal Air Force.

That was its swan song.”



An undated photo of the hangars which may have been at the west end of Roosevelt Field,

from a pamphlet describing the "Roosevelt Aviation School" (courtesy of Bob Levittan),

which apparently trained aircraft mechanics for service during WWII.



An undated business card for the "Roosevelt Aviation School" (courtesy of Andrew McCalla).



 

A WW2-era view of Roosevelt Field, looking east. National Archives photo.

 

An undated (circa 1940s?) aerial view of Roosevelt Field, looking southwest,

from an airport directory (courtesy of Ed Drury).

Note the track of the Roosevelt Raceway in the lower left.



An undated (circa 1940s?) airport layout of Roosevelt Field from an airport directory (courtesy of Ed Drury).

Note the single hangar still depicted on the northern edge of the Roosevelt Raceway property (at the northeast corner of the plan).



Being located near the major aircraft manufacturing facilities of Grumman, Chance Vought, and Eastern Aircraft,

Roosevelt Field was commissioned as a Naval Air Facility in 1943.

Its mission was to serve as a modification & delivery center for newly manufactured aircraft,

primarily those purchased by the British.

In 2 & a half years, Roosevelt delivered 6,662 aircraft!



At its height during WW2, the airfield consisted of a total of 3 asphalt runways (the largest was 3,000' long),

parking ramps, 6 large hangars along the northeast ramp, and numerous smaller hangars & other buildings.



A September 1944 advertisement for the Roosevelt Aviation School (courtesy of Richard Finley).



The 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)

described "NAF, Roosevelt" as having a 3,000' hard-surfaced runway,

and indicated that both Army & Navy operations were conducted at the field.



During World War 2 the Dade Brothers factory, adjacent to Roosevelt Field,

which had been a hombeuilder, was contracted by the Army to produce wooden wings & tails for CG-4 troop gliders.

Nearly 1,000 sets were assembled by Dade Brothers with the steel tube fuselages built by General Aircraft in Queens

and crated for overseas shipment at Roosevelt Field.



An undated (circa 1940s?) colorized photo of twin-engine planes on the Mitchel Field ramp.



The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described Roosevelt Field

as a 248 acre irregularly-shaped property within which were 3 asphalt runways, with the longest being the 2,900' northeast/southwest strip.

The field was said to have a total of 8 hangars, with the largest being five 140' x 120' concrete structures.

Roosevelt Field was described as being privately owned, but operated by the Navy & private interests.



After WW2, Roosevelt Field was surrounded by increasingly dense development.



Roosevelt Field was depicted on a 1946 USAAF KS-NY Pilot's Handbook (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

as having 3 paved runways.

Note the proximity of Mitchel Field to the south.



Roosevelt Field & Mitchel Field, as depicted on the 1947 USGS topo map.



An undated aerial view looking northeast at Roosevelt Field from a 1948 brochure (courtesy of Rudolph Tomasik).



Rudolph Tomasik in the front seat of the Roosevelt Aviation School's T-6, “Whistlin Dixie”, from a 1948 brochure (courtesy of Rudolph Tomasik).



Maintenance being performed on the Roosevelt Aviation School's T-6, from a 1948 brochure (courtesy of Rudolph Tomasik).



Rudolph Tomasik of the Roosevelt Aviation School in front of a Republic SeaBee, from a 1948 brochure (courtesy of Rudolph Tomasik).



A 9/1/48 USGS aerial view showed the proximity of Roosevelt Field to Mitchel Field to the south.



An undated aerial view looking west along the northern row of hangars at Roosevelt Field.

The photo is presumably from late in the life of Roosevelt Field (late 1940s / early 1950s?), the eastern-most hangar had already been removed.



Roosevelt Field, as depicted on the 1950 NY Sectional Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe).



According to Peter Maefield's 1972 Wings Club of NYC speech (courtesy of Dave Kanzeg),

Finally, in August 1950 the field was sold to the real estate developers, Webb & Knapp.

Flying ended on 5/31/51 on the original site of Mineola 2 Aviation Ground of 27 years previously.

It was a sad end to an historic spot - sad not least, I suspect, to Grover Loening & to his colleagues of the former Aviation Corporation - AVCO -

who had been major stockholders in Roosevelt Field Inc. & had backed it solidly.”



The last photo which has been located showing Roosevelt Field still largely intact was a 12/2/53 USGS aerial view.

Although redevelopment had begun, most of the runways & some of the hangars still remained intact.



Bill Reidy recalled, “I did quite a bit of flying over Long Island in the 1950s.

Although Roosevelt Field was closed you could still see the outline of the runways.

I always thought of Lindbergh heading for Paris!”



Robert Weiss recalled that "at least one of the Roosevelt Field hangars was a teen nightclub in the mid 1960s -

'Murray the K's World' - a popular NY disc jockey lending his name (and $?) to the place.

I remember going to see Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels there in 1966 or so."



By the time of a 1966 aerial photo, the site of the former airfield had been redeveloped as the Roosevelt Field Mall,

with not a trace of the historic airfield remaining.



According to Peter Maefield's 1972 Wings Club of NYC speech (courtesy of Dave Kanzeg),

Roosevelt Unit 1 (East) is now Roosevelt Field Industrial Complex & Horse Race Track.

Roosevelt Unit 2 is now Roosevelt Field Shopping Center.

The two are separated by the Meadowbrook State Parkway,

more-or-less on the site of the original ramp between the 2 fields.”



The 1979 USGS topo map depicted numerous buildings covering the west part of the former airport site,

and Roosevelt Raceway to the east.



As seen in a 2005 aerial photo, not a trace of Roosevelt Field appears to remain.



The site of Roosevelt Field is located southeast of the intersection of Old Country Road & Clinton Road,

less than one mile north of the site of Mitchel AFB.

____________________________________________________



Hazelhurst Aviation Field #2 / Mitchel Field / Mitchel AFB, Garden City, NY

40.72 North / 73.6 West (Southeast of La Guardia Airport)

"Hazelhurst Aviation Field #1" & "Aviation Field #2", as depicted on the 1918 USGS topo map.



This field was established in 1917 as Aviation Field #2 just south of Hazelhurst Field

to serve as an additional training & storage base.



The earliest depiction which has been located of this airfield was on the 1918 USGS topo map.

It labeled an irregularly-shaped property as "Aviation Field #2".



It was renamed Mitchel Field in 1918,

after John Mitchel, the youngest elected Mayor of New York City,

who perished in a 1918 crash after joining the Signal Corps Army Air Service.



Lewis Layne was killed in a crash of a Curtis Oriole at Mitchel Field on June 27, 1920 (according to Layne Bumgardner).



A 10/12/27 photo of a “Line inspection” in front of a Mitchel Field 61st Service Squadron Engineering Department hangar

of an unidentified Douglas biplane transport (courtesy of Ford Lauer).



Mitchel Field, as depicted on the 1923 New York – Bellfonte Air Navigation Map #3 (courtesy of David Brooks),

along with the nearby Roosevelt Field & Hazelhurst Field.



The location & layout of Mitchel Field, as depicted on the 1928 Commerce Department Airway Bulletin (courtesy of David Brooks),



A remarkable 3/10/28 aerial view looking northwest at a snow-covered Mitchel Field (courtesy of Ford Lauer).



A 1929 NY Legislative Report (courtesy of Tom Heitzman) described Mitchel Field as a 280 acre rectangular property

having a 4,000' x 3,000' sod landing field.



A 1929 photo of a Curtis Pulitzer Racer at Mitchel Field.



Mitchel Field continued to grow after WW1 & a major new construction program was undertaken from 1929-1932,

including housing, warehouses, operations buildings, and 8 massive steel & concrete hangars.



Mitchel Field, as depicted on the 1930 "Rand McNally Standard Map of NJ With Air Trails" (courtesy of Chris Kennedy),

along with the nearby Roosevelt Field & Hicksville Aviation Country Club Airfield.

 

The earliest photo which has been located of Mitchel Field was a 1931 aerial view looking west (courtesy of Brett),

showing a large number of Army biplanes, and a long row of hangars along the north side of the field.



A circa 1930s aerial view looking southeast at Mitchel Field showed the large number of hangars & other buildings.

The airfield still consisted of an open grass area.



Mitchel Field, as depicted on the 1934 U.S. Navy Aviation Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



Mitchel Field, as depicted on the 1935 Regional Aeronautical Chart.



An aerial view looking west at Mitchel Field from The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo).

It described Mitchel Field as having a rectangular 4,000' x 3,000' grass landing area, plus one 2,700' paved east/west runway.

The aerial photo depicted a line of hangars along the northern edge of the field.



A Flight Simulator scenery re-creation by Richard Finley looking northwest at Mitchel Field, with Roosevelt Field at the top-left.

Richard noted, “It is amazing those airports could coexist in such close proximity.

When I went on a house hunting trip with my wife for my job at New York Tracon, we stayed at a hotel built on the old Mitchell Field site.

We arrived at night. I got up the next morning & looked out the window of our room and said, 'My God! Those are hangar buildings over there.'

I had no idea we were staying on a historical airport site where Jimmy Doolittle had flown the first instrument approach

and where the first airplane to make air-to-ground radio contact departed.”



A July 6, 1939 aerial view depicted Mitchel Field during the construction of 2 large concrete runways.

Note several aircraft parked along the hangars along the north side of the field.



An October 9, 1939 aerial view showed the pace of construction progress at Mitchel Field,

with a 3rd concrete runway having been added between July-October.



A November 1940 photo of two dozen P-40 fighters on the Mitchel Field flightline.



During WW2, Mitchel was the main point of air defense for New York City,

equipped with 2 squadrons of P-40 fighters.



A photo (courtesy of Joe Skaptason), captioned “Simple cut-out aircraft decoys being tested at Mitchel Field, NY, 2/23/43.

These decoys cast a partially credible shadow, but they were obviously flat & unreal.”

Joe Skaptason recalled, “During the war the Army camouflaged many facilities & built fake sites that were close to the originals but could be confused from the air.

Mitchell Field had its fake twin to the southeast of the real base.

I am positive that this is the EXACT spot where we played!

It had changed some by the late 1940s but the P-40 decoys where still identifiable.

The large decoy & shadow in the center were gone as were most of the structures but I remember the rest.”

I question if there was an actual decoy airport as I didn't see it but just recall local adults telling me about the decoys to lead the German bombers away from Mitchell.



The 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)

described "Mitchel, Army" as having a 5,400' hard-surfaced runway.



A 1945 aerial view looking west at Mitchel Field (courtesy of John Voss).



The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described Mitchel Field

as a 1,420 acre square property within which were 4 concrete runways, with the longest being the 5,400' northwest/southeast strip.

The field was said to have a total of 11 hangars, with the largest being eight 200' x 110' brick & metal structures.



A 1946 USAAF KS-NY Pilot's Handbook (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Mitchel Field as having 4 paved runways, with the longest being the 5,152' Runway 12/30.



Joe Skaptason recalled of Mitchel Field's decoy to the southeast,

Following the war (circa 1946/1947) the fake field was enclosed by barbed wire with many no trespassing federal property signs.

The field had dugouts, fake building & wood & canvass P-40s.

That was a FUN place to play & in spite of rumors & warnings we never saw any MPs.

I think it was in Uniondale to the southeast of Front Street & Meadowbrook State Parkway.”



Joe continued, “I do remember (in what was our play area) the wood & canvas structures were in really poor shape.

There was one fascinating area that was underground. There were 2 wood stairways leading down to an octagonal-shaped room.

The room had benches on 6 walls (3 each on either side of the stair openings). In the middle of the room was a bench that one could stand on.

It was directly under an astrodome - a full Plexiglas navigators canopy. We speculated on its use.

Air raid shelter, guard house lookout, navigational training for star sights. etc? Never did find out.”

Paul Hawthorne recalled, “I lived across the street on the Hofstra College campus from 1946-53.

Lots of C-119s a minute or two apart in the evening,

and F-84s often doing extended runup at the end of Runway 5 in the day.

I figured out years later these were probably just-delivered aircraft & the ferry pilots were making sure the bird was ready.

Runway 18/36 was closed before I got there, courtesy of the wartime crash into the college.

I remember several crashes including a C-119 that just cleared Hempstead Turnpike

and crashed into & burned at Havendale Real Estate one evening, right off the end of Runway 23.

A prop blade fell through the roof of one of the temporary faculty housing units (barracks) & landed on a bed.”



Mitchel served as the headquarters of the Continental Air Command starting in 1947.



Mitchel Field, as depicted on the 1947 USGS topo map.



Mitchel Field, as depicted on the 1:24,000 1947 USGS topo map.



An undated aerial view from the 1948 “This Is Mitchel AFB” (courtesy of Ron Plante)

depicted a large number of transport aircraft on the north side of the field.



A 9/1/48 USGS aerial view showed the proximity of Mitchel Field to Roosevelt Field to the north.



A diagram from the 1948 “This Is Mitchel AFB” (courtesy of Ron Plante) described the buildings along the flight line.



An undated photo from the 1948 “This Is Mitchel AFB” (courtesy of Ron Plante) of the Base Operations Building.



An October 1948 photo of Northrop P-61B Black Widow night fighters of the 2nd Fighter Squadron (All Weather) on the Mitchel ramp.



By 1949, Mitchel was relieved of the responsibility for defending New York City because

of the many problems associated with operating tactical aircraft in an urban area.



Bill Summers recalled, “I was stationed at Mitchel Field in 1949

and we had an F-82 that crashed on takeoff & went across the highway

and into Hofstra College & one prop ended up in a bedroom.”



Joe Skaptason recalled, “I grew up in Hempstead & attended California Avenue grade school until spring of 1951 when I went on to Hempstead High.

I was there until we moved in the summer of 1953. The grade school is still there & at the time it bordered the south side of some athletic fields of Hofstra.

There were many fewer building at that time. We had a much better view to the north toward Mitchell.

I was an airplane nut & spent many hours watching the flights in & out of Mitchel Field.

In the 1949 incident I was on the school baseball field at the grade school in the outfield when I heard a funny sounding engine noise.

This was followed by a crash (we more felt it than heard it).

I looked up (looking to the northwest) to see what turned out to be one of the props of the F-82 slowly rotating upward before it arched over and descended towards us.

We later found out from our Scoutmaster who was a volunteer fireman in Hempstead that the Twin Mustang lost an engine at about liftoff,

went through the fence & into a newly completed but as of yet unoccupied real estate office.

One of the pilots was able to clear his canopy & cross over to the other fuselage & manually release the canopy of the other pilot.

He got him out with minor burns. This made a big impression on me & to this day I can still picture the prop in its rise & fall.”



Joe continued, “We lived at the corner of Lincoln Road and Leverich in Hempstead.

This is just to the right of the centerline of Runway 5 & about 1,200 yards from the threshold.

One day under condition of very low minimums a B-25 broke out of the clouds,

grazed the chimney of the house across the street & crashed into an empty lot about three blocks over.

I think it was Beverly street. The B-25 was totally demolished but there was relatively little damage to the house that surrounded the crash site.

It was surmised that at the last instant the pilot put the bird into the tiny space.”



Mitchel Field was the terminus for the last speed record set on Long Island,

a transcontinental speed record of 4 hours, 8 minutes set by Col. W. Millikan in an F-86 Sabre on January 2, 1954.



A 1954 photo by William Ebert (used by permission of Colin Ebert)

of a massive Convair B-36 bomber at Mitchel Field's Armed Forces Day airshow.



A 1954 photo by William Ebert (used by permission of Colin Ebert)

of a Lockheed F-94 Starfire interceptor at Mitchel Field's Armed Forces Day airshow.



A photo of a Vought F7U Cutlass at Mitchel Field's 1954 Armed Forces Day airshow,

from the program of the 5/22/55 Mitchel Armed Forces Day airshow (courtesy of John Stanford via Lisa Stanford).



The 1955 USGS topo map (courtesy of John Voss)

depicted Mitchel's airfield at its ultimate configuration, with 4 paved runways (the longest was the 6,700' Runway 5/23)

and a large number of taxiways & ramps.



An aerial view looking north at the static display of numerous military aircraft on Mitchel's ramp

during the base's 1959 Armed Forces Day open house.



A 1960 photo of C-119 Flying Boxcars from the 514th Troop Carrier Wing

being readied for takeoff from Mitchel AFB during Operation Bright Star / Pine Cone III.



The last aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of Mitchel AFB

was on the 1961 NY Local Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe).

It depicted Mitchel AFB as having 4 paved runways, with the longest being 6,700'.



After several notable crashes (including a P-47 into Hofstra University’s Barnard Hall),

public pressure ultimately led to the field’s closure.

The last active unit to be based at Mitchel was the 514th Troop Carrier Wing

flying Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcars.

Due to the noise, small size of the field, and several spectacular crashes,

Mitchel's control tower was vacated on April 15, 1961,

after 43 years of flight operations at this historic airfield.

The property was eventually turned over to Nassau County.



An undated photo of Mitchel's control tower, shortly after it was vacated in 1961.



The 4 runways of Mitchel AFB were still depicted on the 1965 NY Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss),

but the field was labeled "Closed".



A 3/8/66 showed the massive airfield to remain largely intact,

although construction was underway on 2 towers on the southwest corner of the runways.



A 6/3/66 aerial view of Hofstra University construction with the Mitchel Field runways & hangars in the background (National Archives photo, courtesy of Ron Plante).



A circa 1968 aerial view looking west at Mitchel Field.



A still from the 1972 movie 'The Godfather', for which a vintage tollbooth was constructed on Mitchel Field's abandoned Runway 5/23.



Mike L. recalled, “The northeast portion of Runway 5/23, the extended section with the added access road that's now on the campus of Nassau Community College,

was the filming location for the infamous tollbooth scene in the [1972] movie 'The Godfather'.

In the scene, the cars drove up the runway & made that left turn onto the access road, which is where the tollbooth set was built... just right around the bend.

In the film, there were white, curving tollbooth lane lines painted on the tarmac surface; these lane lines were actually still visible there until recently [2012],

when construction was done in the area (or might have been removed for the Goodwill Games).

Also, in the background of the scene in the film, you can see the radio tower that is on the campus of Bishop Kellenberg High School.

I attended Hofstra University in the early 1990s.

I lived in a dorm situated on the old tarmac at the south end of Runway 18/36.

At the time, much of the old tarmac surface was still intact & easily recognizable.”



An undated photo of a hangar at Mitchel, which no longer stands.



View of the remaining portion of Runway 23 in 1998.



The remaining hangar line at Mitchel Field, as it existed in 1998.



 

A circa 2001 aerial photo of the site of Mitchel Field.

The last remaining portions of Mitchel's Runway 5/23 were visible in the NE & SW corners of the photo.

The Nassau Community College had been built over the center of Runway 5/23.

Remains of Runway 17/35 were less perceptible along the western side of the photo.



The Nassau Community College now covers most of the Mitchel AFB site,

with portions of 2 runways still remaining.



A new museum has been established on the grounds of Mitchel AFB,

the Cradle of Aviation Museum.



A 2003 aerial view by Stephen Cohen looking southwest along the remains of the runway at Mitchel Field.



A circa 2001-2005 aerial view looking west at the remaining line of former hangars from Mitchel Field.



A circa 2001-2005 aerial view looking east at the remaining line of former hangars from Mitchel Field,

with several aircraft from the collection of the Cradle of Aviation Museum visible in the center.



A 2005 photo by Tom Lenihan of Mitchel Field's Hangar 3, after its recent renovation.

It serves as the Cradle of Aviation Museum's “Donald Everett Axinn Air & Space Museum Hall”.



Mike L. reported in 2012 of the runway segment used for filming a scene from 'The Godfather':

I was at the location recently; they are doing a lot of parking lot work & other construction there now.

It seems as if that remaining section of the runway might be obliterated soon, unfortunately.”



A 2013 photo by Steve Rocketto of the sign commemorating Mitchel Field, with Hangar 3 in the background.



See also:

http://pirs.mvr.usace.army.mil/fuds/C02NY064503/21.pdf

http://www.hnd.usace.army.mil/OEW/factshts/factshts/mitchel.pdf

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Rogers Airport / Curtiss Airport / Columbia Aircraft Company Airfield, Valley Stream, NY

40.66 North / 73.72 West (East of JFK Airport, NY)

Valley Stream Curtiss Airport, as depicted on the 1929 Washington-NYC Air Navigation Map #3.



The history of this obscure little airport is somewhat convoluted,

and involves 2 obscure aircraft manufacturers which made their home at Valley Stream.



In 1928, Rogers Airport was opened on the southwest border of Valley Stream.



About a year later, Curtiss-Wright purchased the Rogers Airport & the Reisert Farm adjoining it.

Several millions of dollars were invested before the Curtiss Airport became operational.

Hundreds of planes used the facility daily, along with famous aviators like Charles Lindbergh & Wiley Post.



The earliest depiction which has been located of the Valley Stream Curtiss Airport

was on the 1929 Washington-NYC Air Navigation Map #3.



The Ninety-Nines, an international organization of licensed women pilots,

was established on 11/2/29, when 26 licensed women pilots met at Curtiss Airport in Valley Stream.

In 1931 Amelia Earhart was elected as their first president.

The group was named for the 99 charter members.



The Columbia Aircraft Company was formed in Valley Stream in 1929 by

Charles Levine, Giuseppe Bellanca & Clarence Chamberlain

to acquire the rights to a Wright Aircraft designed by Bellanca - the W.B.2.



An undated photo (circa 1929-31) of the sole prototype of the Columbia CAL-1 Triad,

possibly taken at Valley Stream.



Three examples of the Columbia CAL-1 Triad were produced in 1929.

The Triad was a 6-passenger amphibian, which converted to a landplane via a detachable hull,

or to a full seaplane by removal of the wheels.

It was powered by a 220hp Wright J-5.



A sole prototype of the Columbia Uncle Sam was built in 1929,

reportedly costing a total of $250,000.

It was planned as a 50-passenger transoceanic transport.

The Uncle Sam was powered by a 450hp Packard 2A, and had a span of 60'.

It was test-flown into 1930, but production of the plane, seriously underpowered, was cancelled.



Curtiss Airport was the largest commercial airport on Long Island for 3 years starting in 1930.



The earliest photo which has been located of Curtiss Airport in Valley Stream was a circa 1930 aerial view looking northeast.

It depicted Curtiss Airport as having 3 asphalt runways in a triangular layout in the middle of a large grass field.

A row of 6 substantial hangars lined the west side of the field.



A circa 1930a aerial view looking east at Curtiss Wright Airport (courtesy of Ed Cox), possibly taken during the same event as the preceding photo,

showings a mass gathering of biplanes on the northeast side of the field, with the Curtiss hangar visible on the left.



Curtiss Airport in Valley Stream, as depicted on the 1930 "Rand McNally Standard Map of NJ With Air Trails" (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



The Valley Stream Airport was also the location of Naval Reserve Aviation Base Valley Stream

(according to the 12/50 issue of the Naval Aviation News (courtesy of John Voss).

As of 1930, the naval aircraft assigned to NRAB Valley Stream were: 6 Consolidated NY-2's,

1 Vought O2U-2, and 3 Curtiss Fledgings.

Training was given to 3 squadrons,

and during the summer elimination flight training was provided to 35 student flight officers.



A 5/7/30 photo (courtesy of Mark Hess) depicted a large number of biplane amphibians & landplanes at Curtiss Airport.

The photo was captioned: “Planes at Curtiss Airport, lined up for their descent upon Manhattan.

Curtiss Airport, Valley Stream: Some of the 152 fighting, scouting, bombing, and torpedo planes

which participated in the sensational aerial salute to Manhattan today.

The planes are drawn up at the Curtiss Airport, Valley Stream, in readiness to take off.

From noon until nearly 1PM the shiny-winged birds swooped & soared over the city

while excited citizens dropped their work to witness the thrilling spectacle.”



A circa 1930 photo of 4 planes in front of a Curtiss Wright Flying Service hangar, apparently on the northeast side of Curtiss Airport Valley Stream.



A 7/13/30 photo of Frank Hawks arriving at Valley Stream in his Travelaire after setting a new transcontinental speed record.



At some point after 1930 Valley Stream's Naval Aviation activities was transferred to Floyd Bennet Field.



The sole prototype of the bizarre Curtiss-Bleeker helicopter,

seen in 1930 at the Curtiss airfield in Valley Stream.



The first 2 Columbia Triads were destroyed in a hangar fire in 1931.

It is not known what became of the 3rd & last Triad.



The sole prototype of the Columbia Uncle Sam was auctioned in 1931 for only $750,

but destroyed in hangar fire 2 weeks later.



According to the Cradle of Aviation Museum, In 1931, Leroy Grumman's fledgling aircraft company was outgrowing its tiny shop in Baldwin,

and “a vacant Naval Reserve hangar was discovered adjacent to Curtiss Field in Valley Stream.

Compared to the Baldwin shop, the hangar was quite satisfactory, and the rent was very reasonable.

Alongside the hangar was a small building that would house the engineering department & the corporate offices.

In late 1931 Grumman's prototype XFF-1 Navy fighter was moved by truck to Grumman's new facility at Curtiss Field in Valley Stream.”



Grumman’s move to the new accommodations was made on 11/4/31.

It took 3 days to truck everything over & set up shop.

When the incomplete XFF-1 arrived at the hangar, work resumed at the former hectic pace.

A few weeks later, the expected contract for the Model B floats arrived, an early Christmas gift from the Navy.

Things were rapidly winding up to a climax. With each passing day, the XFF-1 was closer to being ready for its first flight.

Tension & excitement mingled as the last work was completed on the new fighter.

It was time to see if the efforts of the past nine months would be rewarded.



A 1931 photo of the prototype XFF-1 fighter outside Grumman's new Curtiss Field facility.



According to the Cradle of Aviation Museum, “In the freezing cold morning air of 12/29/31, the XFF-1 was rolled out of the hangar into the morning sun.

Carefully, the fighter was subjected to an intensive pre-flight inspection.

Once everything had been checked, re-checked and then triple-checked, it was deemed ready to fly.

Test pilot Bill McAvoy climbed aboard. With the engine started, McAvoy went through his checklist & taxied to the end of the grass field.

After a magneto check, McAvoy eased the throttle forward & the new plane surged down the field & eased off the ground.

Cranking the landing gear wheel, McAvoy pulled up the wheels.

This first flight was supposed to last more than 2 hours, but within 30 minutes, the XFF-1 was back.

Since there was no radio, no one understood why the flight had been aborted. McAvoy landed & taxied over the hangar.

At first glance it was obvious that something was very wrong. Streaked in oil, the fighter braked to a stop in front of the open hangar door.

As soon as the engine was shut down, Grumman mechanics swarmed all over the little biplane.

In a matter of 2 minutes, the problem had been discovered. The filler cap on the oil tank had not been properly secured.

Under pressure, oil was blown out and it covered the fuselage & the cockpit glass.

After cleaning the oil from the plane & topping off the oil tank, the cap was fastened securely & McAvoy took off again to finish the test flight.

After being successfully tested by Grumman, the XFF-1 was turned over to the Navy for acceptance testing.”



According to the Cradle of Aviation Museum, “While the Navy continued testing of the XFF-1,

Grumman was busy constructing the XSF-1, which would fly in August, 1931.

Shortly thereafter, the Navy awarded Grumman with a contract to build the XJF-1 Amphibian prototype.

By the end of the year, the Navy accepted the XFF-1 & issued a contract for 27 FF-1 fighters.

With contracts in hand totaling nearly $750,000, Grumman was in the aircraft business for the foreseeable future.

Ultimately, 34 SF-1 Scout fighters would also be ordered.

Soon, work would begin on the XJF-1 & once again, Grumman would outgrow its facility, relocating to Farmingdale.”



In 1933, only 3 years after the Curtiss Airport had opened in Valley Stream,

the worsening conditions of the Depression reportedly led to the airport's closure.

However, the Columbia Aircraft Company evidently continued their operations at Valley Stream,

and the 'closure' only referred to the operations of the public airport.



A November 1940 aerial view looking northeast at Curtiss Field in Valley Stream (courtesy of Jim Freyler).

The airfield consisted of 3 asphalt runways in a triangular layout in the middle of a large grass field.

A row of 6 substantial hangars lined the west side of the field,

and the Curtiss hangar remained on the northeast side of the field.

Jim noted, “There were still 5 aircraft parked there in the photo although the field had been 'closed' for many years.”



A J2F-6 Duck, built by Columbia Aircraft in Valley Stream, NY.



During WW2, the Grumman Aircraft Company (in nearby Bethpage) developed the J2F Duck floatplane.

However, under pressure of growing demand for its more urgently needed fighters & dive-bombers,

Grumman had to farm out the Duck & other projects.

After the last J2F-5 Duck rolled off the Grumman assembly line,

production of the Duck was shifted to the Columbia Aircraft Corporation,

which built the J2F-6 at their Valley Stream, Long Island factory starting in early 1942.

The J2F-6 was identical to the -5 except for the more powerful Wright 1820 Cyclone engine (with 1,050 hp).



Lee Englund recalled, "As a kid I lived in Valley Stream in the 1940s.

It was great fun to watch the Grumman Ducks flying around."



The Columbia Aircraft Company airfield was not depicted at all

on the 1943 NY Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).



According to John Voss, the Columbia airfield was listed in the 1944 Directory of Airfields, with a 2,900' runway.



A total of 330 J2F-6 Ducks were produced in Valley Stream for the Navy & Coast Guard by the time production ceased in 1945.



The earliest aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of the Columbia Aircraft Airfield

was on the 1945 NY Sectional Chart (courtesy of Robert Bown).

It depicted Columbia as an auxiliary airfield.



The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described Columbia Airport

as a 218 acre irregularly-shaped property within which were 2 macadam runways, measuring 2,880' NNE/SSW & 2,850' NNW/SSE.

The field was said to have a total of 8 cinder block & wood hangars, with the largest measuring 266' x 123'.

Columbia Airport was described as being owned by the Defense Plant Corporation & operated by private interests.



An undated photo of the ungainly Columbia XJL-1 amphibian.



An even more obscure product of this relationship was the XJL-1.

During the early WW2 years Grumman commenced a project to marry the best features of the Duck

with a more modern monoplane configuration, an all-metal structure,

and fully retractable tricycle landing gear.

This resulted in the XJL-1,

which was also farmed out to Columbia Aircraft Company.



Columbia built 3 prototypes of the XJL-1.

One prototype was tested structurally to destruction, while the first to fly took to the air in late 1946.

The specific outcome of the XJL project is unknown,

but it evidently was canceled as part of the post-WW2 military cutbacks.



Columbia Aircraft Company was acquired by Commonwealth Aircraft in 1946.

Commonwealth transferred production of their Skyranger (a light single engine general aviation aircraft)

from Kansas City's Fairfax Airport to the former Columbia Aircraft factory in Valley Stream.

Commonwealth went on to manufacture 276 of their Skyrangers before production ceased after less than one year, in late 1946.

Commonwealth went bankrupt in 1947,

as the anticipated post-war boom in civil aviation never occurred.



The last depiction which has been located of Columbia Airport was on a 1947 USGS map.



The 1:24,000 1947 USGS map depicted Curtiss Wright Airport as having 3 paved runways, with the row of 6 hangars on the southwest side,

and the former Curtiss hangar still depicted on the northeast side.



It is not known if the Columbia Airfield was ever used again after the bankruptcy of Commonwealth Aircraft in 1947.

It was apparently abandoned by 1949,

as it was not depicted on the 1949 NY Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).



Al Kaufmann recalled, “As teenagers in Valley Stream Central High in the late 1940s

we used the runways to play with our jalopies.”



The last photo which has been located of Columbia Airport was a remarkable 1951 aerial view,

showing most of the runways still remaining intact, but new construction starting to cover the southeast side of the field.

It also appears as if the western runway had been extended at some point late in the airfield's life (at some point between 1947-51),

as it extends farther to the southwest than was indicated on the 1947 topo map.

The Curtiss hangar on the northeast side of the field had apparently been removed at some point between 1947-51.



Ed Mentz recalled, “I remember the runways in the early 1950s, someone had 'closed' them by digging a trench across them.

We flew model planes there then & there was a circular concrete pad used by model race cars... a good place to learn to drive at the time.”



In 1956 the Green Acres Mall (one of Long Island's first malls) opened on the north side of the former airport property.

However, the former hangars were spared, and remained standing for another 3 decades.



Greg Dito reported, “I was employed by the defense firm Bulova Technologies

that used the 2 hangars since razed to build the Home Depot.

Bulova’s expertise in watches & general timing devices migrated to weapons fuzing & safe/arm devices starting the 1950s.

At some point (late 1950s / early 1960s?) Bulova moved its growing defense business

from the watch company site in Jackson Heights, Queens to the Valley Stream location.

A single-story structure was built between the 2 hangars, joining them & serving as the company’s full-service cafeteria.

Other added structures included an adjoining shipping warehouse

and a below-ground bunker for storage of the small detonators used in the devices.”



Ed Mentz recalled, “I worked in the hangars at Curtis Field in the early 1960s.

The company was GB Electronics, the electronics arm of General Bronze.

They made antennas including large acquisition antennas & supplied waveguides for the DEW line.

We had antenna test ranges on the roof. I recall 3 or 4 hangars in use at the time.”



A 1966 aerial photo showed that the hangars remained standing,

but the airfield area had been covered with dense housing.



The 1969 USGS topo map still depicted the former hangars of the Columbia Aircraft Company on the west side of the property,

but the airfield area in the center had been covered by residential streets.



Greg Dito recalled, “I joined Bulova in 1980 until its closing in May 1991 when it relocated to Lancaster PA

after purchasing Hamilton Technologies from Olin Corp.

Olin purchased Hamilton’s parent company for its large-caliber munitions business & had no interest in fuzing.

There were just under 1,000 employees during Bulova’s peak in the 1980s.

Bulova designed & manufactured fuzing devices for Sidewinder, Maverick and Sparrow missiles,

artillery and mortar fuzes, ICBM security key locks, and M1A1 Abrams HEAT ammunition, to name a few.

I believe Bulova was one of the largest defense firms on Long Island after the big aircraft companies.”



Greg continued, “Layoffs began in 1989 although several employees including myself were there until the very last day in 1991.

I took a number of photos of the buildings, looking pretty much overgrown & abandoned by May 1991.

The parking lot used the original concrete tarmac & it was very easy to see how the hangars were arranged,

their original facades with a bas relief of a single prop plane making its way through the clouds.

Even though the large hangar door openings were long ago ‘bricked over’

one could still see how immense & cavernous the hangars were.”



Lee Englund recalled in 2003, "I had occasion to visit Valley Stream about 8 years ago & found Curtiss airport,

its great hangars still standing with the airplane emblem at the peak of each end.

At that time some company was using the hangars as a manufacturing facility."

 

In 1993, two hangars, formerly the home of Columbia Aircraft,

were demolished to make way for a Home Depot which presently occupies the site.

Two hangar emblems were located at each hangar.

Gabriel Parrish, a volunteer at the Restoration & the Cradle of Aviation in Mitchel Field,

was instrumental in salvaging the last remaining emblem

and arranging it to be moved to the grounds of the Valley Stream Historical Society.



A circa 2006 aerial photo showed that 4 of the 1930-era hangars of the Columbia Aircraft Company

still remained standing on the west side of the property.



A circa 2006 aerial photo looking north at 2 of the former hangars of the Columbia Aircraft Company.



A circa 2006 aerial photo looking south at the 4 former hangars of the Columbia Aircraft Company.



The site of the Columbia Aircraft Company is located southwest of the present-day Valley Acres Mall,

on the south side of Green Acres Road.



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