Aviation Sights of Long Island

1. Long Island’s Aviation Seed

The aviation seed planted on Long Island’s Hempstead Plains in 1909, when Glenn Curtiss had first flown above it in his Golden Flyer biplane, had sprouted and grown over a six-decade period until it had ultimately connected its own soil with that of its moon.

Its many aerospace sights, depicting its general aviation, commercial, military, and space branches, and geographically spread between Garden City and Calverton, recount this journey.

2. Cradle of Aviation Museum

The Cradle of Aviation Museum, located on Museum Row in Garden City near the Coliseum, Nassau Community College, and Hofstra University, tells most of Long Island’s aerospace story.

Tracing its origin to 1979, when then-County Executive Francis T. Purcell designated funds to restore two aircraft hangars at former Mitchel Field, it displayed several dozen aircraft until it closed for renovation in 1995. The 130,000-square-foot, $40 million facility, opening on the 75th anniversary of Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight in 2002, showcases more than 70 air- and spacecraft, 11 of which are one-of-a-kind designs, associated with or constructed on Long Island and uncovered during a 20-year search which had stretched from the bottom of Lake Michigan to Guadalcanal. They had then been restored and preserved by retired airline and defense aircraft manufacturer volunteers who collectively contributed some 650,000 man-hours to the project. The result had been Long Island’s largest, year-round, educational, recreational, and cultural institution.

According to New York State Governor George E. Pataki, museum visitors “can see the brief span of years that brought Long Island from hosting the fragile biplanes of 1911 to building the Lunar Module that took mankind to the moon in the sixties. Through these displays, the Cradle becomes a powerful mirror that reflects our own skills, intellect, and ability to conquer time and space and pays tribute to American innovation and pioneering spirit.”

The Cradle of Aviation Museum, dominated by its impressive, four-story, glass atrium Reckson Center, greets visitors with a ceiling-suspended Grumman F-11A Tiger supersonic fighter in Blue Angels livery and a 1929 Fleet 2 biplane trainer, symbolically representing the soaring ascent of Long Island’s aviation heritage.

The main exhibits, located in eight galleries in the two restored Army Air Corps Hangars 3 and 4 which still bear the words “Mitchel Field. Elev 90 Feet” on their facades, and now designated the Donald Everett Axinn Air and Space Hall, are accessed by a second floor skywalk at whose entrance a third ceiling-suspended replica of a 1922 Sperry Messenger biplane designed by the Lawrence Sperry Aircraft Company of Farmingdale hangs.

According to the skywalk’s plaque, “Long Island has been at the forefront of American’s aviation and space adventure for the past one hundred years…It all started here on Long Island’s Hempstead Plains.”

A one-flight descent leads to the first of the museum’s galleries, “Dream of Wings.” Depicting the triumph of flight with lighter-than-air craft, it demonstrates how balloon, kite, glider, and airship experimentations turned the dream of flight into reality and led to its heavier-than-air successors, displaying aerostatic lift generation, Alexander Graham Bell’s tetrahedral kite, an Otto Lilienthal glider, and a 1906 Timmons kite built in Queens, the museum’s oldest flying exhibit. A 20-hp Glenn Curtiss airship engine, designed two years later, and a Mineola Bike Shop, demonstrating, in the Wright Brothers’ vein, the technology transfer from the bicycle to the aircraft with propellers and wings, round out the exhibits.

The “Hempstead Plains” gallery, the next encountered, represents a 1910 air meet. Amid recordings of turning propellers and accelerating aircraft, a collection of early designs graces the grass-carpeted field and includes an original Bleriot XI of 1909, the world’s fourth-oldest, still-operational airframe; a spruce-and-bamboo replica of Glenn Curtiss’s Golden Flyer, the first heavier-than-air airplane to fly over Long Island; a replica of a Wright Brothers’ Vin Fiz; a Hanriot monoplane; a Farman biplane, a 1911 Anzani engine; and a 1913 Studebaker “motor car.”

During World War I, as evidenced by the succeeding gallery, the triumph of flight was transferred into the destruction of man, as the airplane assumed the reciprocal role of a weapon, and Long Island had become the center of military aircraft design, testing, and production during this time. On display is the first airplane acquired by Charles Lindbergh, a Curtiss JN-4 Jenny purchased in 1923 for $500; along with a 1918 Breese Penguin trainer, the only one of the 250 originally produced remaining; an airworthy Thomas-Morse S4C Scout biplane with its original Marlin machine gun; and the F. Trubee Davison World War One wooden hangar, which sports the ribbed, uncovered airframe of a Curtiss Jenny with its engine, propeller, and fuel tank; and a 160-hp Gnome Monosoupope, 1916 engine from France.

During the Golden Age of Aviation, which spanned the 20-year period from 1919 to 1938, aviation matured, evolving from a dangerous sport to a viable commercial industry. The motley collection of aircraft in this gallery includes the sister ship to the original Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis and used during the filming of the epic tale; an Aircraft Engineering Corporation “Ace,” which became America’s first sport plane; a replica of a Curtiss/Sperry Aerial Torpedo; a 1932 Grumman F3F-2 Navy Scout fighter; a Brunner Winkle Model A Byrd biplane built in Glendale, Queens; an American Aeronautical Corporation/Savoia Marchetti S-56 amphibian made in Port Washington; and a Grumman G-21 Goose in blue, Pan American Airways System livery.

During World War II, as reflected by its respective gallery, the aircraft produced by Repubic and Grumman had been crucial to US victory, and within the six-year period from 1939 to 1945 depicted, some 45,000 airframes had rolled off the production line. On display are a powerless Waco CG-4 Troop Glider, which had been used to deliver soldiers behind enemy lines; a Republic P-47N Thunderbolt; a Grumman F6F Hellcat, a Grumman TBM Avenger, a Grumman F6F Hellcat, a Douglas C-47 cockpit and nose section, and the Sperry Type A-2 lower gun turret which had protected the undersides of B-17 and B-24 long-range bombers.

The pure-jet engine, as evidenced by the Jet Age Gallery, revolutionized military aviation by endowing aircraft with unprecedented speed, range, maneuverability, and attack capability, and Grumman Aircraft Corporation had been instrumental in this development, having designed more than 40 civilian and military types which totaled some 33,000 airframes and provided employment for 200,000 Long Island residents. Its military aircraft, particularly, had played crucial roles in numerous conflicts, including those in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq. On display are several Grumman designs, inclusive of an E-2 Hawkeye airborne early warning/command-and-control aircraft, an F9F-7 Cougar, the forward fuselage of an F-14 Tomcat, and an A-6 Intruder cockpit simulator, while Republic Aviation is represented by an F-84B Thunderjet, an F-105B supersonic fighter, and an A-10A Thunderbolt cockpit section. A Boeing 727 nose and cockpit section and a Westinghouse J-34 turbine engine round out the exhibits.

The “Contemporary Aviation” gallery features air traffic control radar screens which emphasize the congested JFK, La Guardia, and Newark airport triplex, along with their secondary airports of Long Island MacArthur and Westchester County’s White Plains, and Farmingdale’s Republic Airport, the states’ busiest general aviation/reliever field.

The “Exploring Space” gallery, the last of the eight, depicts the dramatic transition from atmospheric flight to vacuumless space and emphasizes Long Island’s rich contribution to this aerospace sector. Its exhibits include a Goddard A-series rocket; a Grumman orbiting astronomical observatory; a Grumman echo adapter; a life-size model of the Sputnik satellite which had been presented by the Soviet Union and whose original hardware had launched the Space Race; a Grumman Rigel ramjet missile from 1953; a Grumman Lunar Module simulator; and a Rockwell Command Module which had been used during a 25,000-mph earth reentry test in 1966 prior to the manned Apollo flights.

A “Clean Room,” representing the environment in which all Lunar Modules had been hand-made, leads to the gallery’s-and the museum’s-most precious exhibit, an actual, 22.9-foot-high, gold foil-covered LM-13, the thirteenth and last Lunar Module built, dramatically lit with its legs nestled on a simulated moonscape. Designated an historic mechanical landmark, the Lunar Module had been the first-and thus far, only-spacecraft to have ever transported human beings from earth to another planet or its moons.

The Museum Annex Jet Gallery, which shares facilities with the Long Island Firefighter’s Museum, features a Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, the forward fuselage of a Grumman F-14A, a full F-14A Tomcat airframe, a Grumman A-6F Intruder, and the forward nose section and cockpit of an El Al Boeing 707.

Other museum facilities include the seven-story-high, 300-seat, 76-foot-wide Leroy R. and Rose W. Grumman IMAX Theater, New York state’s largest domed venue and Long Island’s only IMAX screen; the Martian-themed Red Planet CafĂ©, which displays a 1961 Grumman “Molab” Mobile Lunar Laboratory designed for lunar surface travel, habitation, and testing; a balcony-located Aerospace Honor Roll; and the Mitchel Field Outpost gift and bookstore.

The Cradle of Aviation Museum is a world-class facility which preserves, showcases, and interprets Long Island’s rich aerospace heritage.

3. American Airpower Museum

The American Airpower Museum, located at Farmingdale’s Republic Airport, oozes with history. It is housed in an historic hangar, where historic World War II aircraft had been built, and these had then been tested at this historic airfield.

Republic Airport itself, founded in 1928 as Fairchild Flying Field when Sherman Fairchild’s existing facility had become too small to support continued FC-2 and Model 71 production, had passed the torch to Grumman for a five-year period, from 1932 to 1937, when the Fairchild Engine and Aircraft Manufacturing Company itself had relocated to Maryland.

Seversky, establishing its presence on the field in 1935, continued its tradition of aircraft building and testing, redesignating itself “Republic Aviation” and considerably expanding its facilities with three new hangars, a control tower, and a longer runway. A major supplier of military designs, it churned out more than 9,000 P-47 Thunderbolts during the Second World War and 800 F-105 Thunderchiefs during the Vietnam conflict.

After acquiring the airport in 1965, Fairchild-Hiller sold it to Farmingdale Corporation, which turned it into a public facility the following year, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), purchasing it for $25 million in 1969, renamed it Republic Airport, lengthening existing Runway 14-32, constructing a 100-foot FAA control tower, and building a small passenger terminal.

The 526-acre general aviation/reliever airport, whose ownership once again changed to the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) in April of 1983, exerts some $139 million of economic impact on Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Its 546 based and transient aircraft record 190,723 annual movements, of which 93 percent encompass general aviation, six percent air taxi, and one percent military, in a full spectrum of aircraft types, including single-engine, multi-engine, piston, turboprop, pure-jet, and rotary wing, and these utilize its two runways: 5,516-foot Runway 1-19 and 6,827-foot Runway 14-32. As New York’s third largest airport in terms of take offs and landings after JFK and La Guardia, and its largest general aviation field, it handled 1,634 enplanements, mostly due to charter flight activity, in 2005.

Amidst this atmosphere, off of New Highway, is the American Airpower Museum. Hangar 3, its location, had been completed in 1927, along with other structures at a $500,000 cost and had served as the incubation point of some 9,000 Republic P-47 Thunderbolts during the Second World War. As a result, it had once been considered part of the “arsenal of democracy.” The museum, launched after a $250,000 grant from Governor George E. Pataki and dedicated during the airport’s annual Pearl Harbor Day Commemorative Service in 2000, had been built to serve as a living tribute to Long Island’s veteran population by honoring the past with the present, and to create a regional tourist destination, along with the Cradle of Aviation Museum.

Colonel Francis Gabreski, who scored most of his World War II victories in Republic P-47s, had been the highest ranking ace on Long Island and had initially served as the museum’s honorary commander.

Complementing the static displays at the Cradle of Aviation Museum itself, the American Airpower Museum features the sights, sounds, and experiences of operational World War II fighters and bombers, the first time in 54 years that the New York metropolitan area can boast of such an accomplishment. As the Williamsburg of military aviation, the facility accurately proclaims its mission as “where history flies.”

Its varied collection of pristinely restored aircraft encompass trainers, fighters, carrier-based Navy, ocean reconnaissance, bombers, and post-World War II jet types.

The North American T-6 Texan, for instance, first flew in 1935 and was one of the most widely used advanced fighter pilot trainers during the war.

Of the fighters, the Curtiss-Wright P-40 Warhawk, which also first flew that year, attains 363-mph speeds and currently wears Flying Tiger livery. No aircraft could be more at home in the American Airpower Museum’s Hangar 3, however, than the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, the very design which was assembled here in the thousands. First taking to the skies from the runway only yards away in 1940, it was the largest, heaviest, single-engine, single-pilot piston fighter ever produced, attaining 467-mph speeds. The P-51 Mustang, whose maximum speed had been 30 mph lower than the Thunderbolt’s, flew high-altitude escort missions of B-17 and B-24 long-range bombers, shooting down more enemy aircraft than any other World War II European theater fighter.

Of the Navy aircraft, the Grumman TBM Avenger, a carrier-based torpedo bomber, had hunted German U-boats off the coast of Long Island, while the Vought FG-1D Corsair had been used by both the Navy and the Marines and had achieved 446-mph airspeeds.

The Consolidated PBY Catalina, a high-wing, amphibious ocean reconnaissance aircraft flown by a crew of eight, searched for enemy submarines. It had a 2,545-mile range, a 15,748-foot service ceiling, and a 178-mph speed.

The museum’s twin-engined, medium-range North American B-25 Mitchell bomber, designated “Miss Hap,” had been General Hap Arnold’s personal aircraft, while the type in general had been made famous by the Doolittle Raid.

The collection also includes several jet fighters. The L-39 Albatross, for example, is a 570-mph Soviet trainer which first flew in 1968 and is still in service with 16 countries. The Republic F-84 Thunderjet, one of the first pure-jet fighters, attained 620-mph speeds and served from 1948 to the Korean War. The RF-84 Thunderflash, also designed by Republic, is a 720-mph photoreconnaissance aircraft with horizon-to-horizon photograph capability, and served between 1953 and 1971. The Republic F-105 Thunderchief, a supersonic fighter and attack bomber, had been most extensively deployed in Vietnam in its F-105D guise, carrying more than 12,000 pounds of ordnance and achieving 1,390-mph speeds. It served for a quarter of a century, from 1955 to 1980. The General Dynamics F-111, a supersonic, March 1.2, variable-geometry strike aircraft, first flew in 1967, and had seen service in Vietnam, Libya, and Iraq.

Aside from the aircraft themselves, there are nose and cockpit sections, including those of a Fairchild-Republic A-10, a Mig-21, a Beech 18/C-45, and a Douglas C-47, as well as engines, such as a General Electric J-47 and an Allison V-1710.

World War II’s aviation story is also told by means of films, period scenes and dioramas, an extensive model and memorabilia collection, vintage vehicles, a “Ready Room,” a “Briefing Room,” a “Canteen,” a gift shop, and era-related music.

Tours are periodically provided to the historic, five-story, 1943 control tower located in Hangar 4. The view from the cab, amid vintage radio and radar equipment overlooking Republic airport’s two runways, provides insight into the controllers’ functions, which often included coordinating vectors from P-47s, A-10s, F-84s, and F-105s enroute to the region’s dense air base network comprised of Zahns Airport, then virtually across the road, Grumman in Bethpage, Mitchel Field in Garden City, the Floyd Bennett Field Naval Air Station in Brooklyn, and the Vought factory across Long Island Sound in Connecticut, a network emphasizing Long Island’s early nucleic role in aviation.

Because the American Airpower Museum’s collection is predominantly operational, several flight experiences are offered.

Its own, and signature, opportunity, aboard a Douglas C-47 Skytrain which had last been used by the Israeli Air Force, simulates the famed, D-Day allied invasion of Normandy during the early-morning hours of June 6, 1944.

After donning paratrooper uniforms, helmets, and modified parachutes in the Ready Room, would-be jumpers move to the Briefing Room, where, amid wooden benches and period maps, the pending mission is detailed, along with the necessary regrouping maneuver behind French hedgerows after parachuting to the ground. French francs are distributed.

The cohesive, identically clad team now climbs aboard the twin-engined, olive-green C-47, which is configured with wooden side benches and actually partook of Normandy operations.

During a recent summer flight, the aircraft taxied out to Republic Airport’s Runway 1 and initiated its piston engine-propelled acceleration roll, raising its tailwheel and surrendering to the flawlessly blue sky while retracting its undercarriage.

Climbing to 1,200 feet and maintaining a 125-mph airspeed, the Douglas twin straddled Long Island’s south shore off of Jones Beach, which simulated the similar sands of Normandy.
Upon reaching the designated “drop zone,” the jumpmaster yelled, “Stand up! Check equipment! Hook up!” and the paratroopers connected their lines to the aircraft in preparation for imminent bailout.

Parachute jumping procedures were drilled and the actual, 1944 event was recounted. Regrettably, the realism necessarily had to end there.

Nevertheless, after relanding, the sensation of the D-Day disconnection during the real jump was recreated as the temporary troopers climbed out the aft, left hatch, their Velcro-attached lines separating with gentle tares, a symbolic disconnection from machine before being gravity-induced into an exponentially accelerating tumble to French soil until the unraveling surfaces of their parachutes blossomed into arresting airfoils.

Before removing uniforms, passengers are instructed to reach into their pockets to retrieve a card which reveals the identity of their historical double-or that paratrooper they had represented during the simulated mission. The paratrooper, however, had made the actual jump. And the card indicates whether he had lived or died as a result of it.

Other than the American Airpower Museum’s own C-47 flight experience, vintage aircraft static displays and aerial opportunities are scheduled during holidays and special occasions, such as during Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, historical anniversaries, and the annual Labor Day Flight of Aces weekend, the latter created to encourage young people to write about the virtues, victories, and achievements of a World War II-age friend or relative. The winning composition is awarded a bomber flight experience. Aircraft have included the MATS C-121 Constellation; the Berlin Airlift “Spirit of Freedom” C-54; the B-17 Flying Fortress; the B-24 Liberator; the B-25 Mitchell; and the PT-17 Stearman, the last four of which were operated by the Collings Foundation.

A post-museum visit dinner at the 56th Fighter Group Restaurant located on the Route 110 side of Republic Airport, although not affiliated with the museum itself, both complements and completes a World War II living history day. Resembling a 1940 wartime English farmhouse, it further transports the diner to this era with its “Officer’s Mess” entry; rustic, timbered ceilings; fireplace-adorned dining rooms; World War II-related photographs, memorabilia, and propellers; simulated, bombed-out patio; Big Band music; and views of replica P-40, P-47, and Corsair aircraft. The steak and seafood menu is noted for its signature beer-cheese soup.

The American Airpower Museum is a living aviation time portal to World War II and Long Island’s invaluable contribution to its victory of it. A post-museum dinner at the 56th Fighter Group Restaurant provides the culinary cap to it.

4. Bayport Aerodrome Living Aviation Museum

The Bayport Aerodrome Living Aviation Museum, created by the Bayport Aerodrome Society to preserve and present early-20th century aviation at a representative turf airport, is a 24-hangar complex of privately owned antique and experimental aircraft located at Bayport Aerodrome.

The aerodrome, three miles southeast of Long Island MacArthur Airport, is a nontowered field with a single, 150-foot-wide by 2,740-foot-long grass/turf runway (18-36) and 45 based single-engine aircraft. Of its average 28 daily movements, 98 percent are local, with the remainder transient. Designated Davis Field from 1910 to 1952, it had then been renamed Edwards Airport until 1977, whereafter it had been acquired by the Town of Islip. On January 22, 2008, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a feat proudly proclaimed by its plaque, which reads: “Bayport Aerodrome. Only L.I. public airport w/ grass runways. National Historic status 2008.”

Formed in 1972 for the very purpose of preserving such an era, the Bayport Aerodrome Society conducts complementary tours on weekends between June and September of its operational aircraft collection, which includes Piper Cubs, Waco biplanes, N2S Stearmans, Fleet Model 16Bs, Byrds, and PT-22s. There is also a small museum.

5. Grand Old Airshow

The Grand Old Airshow, first held in 2006 at Brookhaven’s Calabro Airport, was created to transport spectators to earlier, biplane and World War II eras and showcase Long Island aviation.

Calabro Airport itself is a 600-acre, nontowered, municipal field which was constructed during the Second World War to provide logistical support for the Army Air Corps, but was acquired by the Town of Brookhaven in 1961, whose Division of General Aviation now operates it. The field, sporting two runways-4,200-foot Runway 6-24 and 4,224-foot Runway 15-33-is home to three fixed-base operators which offer tie-down pads, T-hangars, conventional hangars, flight instruction, and refueling, as well as Eastern Suffolk Boces, the Dowling College School of Aviation, the Long Island Soaring Association, and Island Aerial Air. There is a small terminal with a luncheonette. Of its 217 based aircraft, some 92 percent encompass single-engine types, and it averages 370 daily, or 135,100 yearly, movements.

The airshow entices the visitor by urging him to “join us this year as we go back in time to celebrate Long Island’s Golden Age of Aviation,” a time when “biplanes graced the skies decades ago.” It continues by offering the experience of “bygone days of aviation, as World War I dogfights, open-cockpit biplanes, World War II fighters, and, of course, the famous Geico Skytypers, soar through Long Island’s blue skies.”

Previous shows have featured antique vehicles and static aircraft displays, the latter encompassing TBM Avengers, Fokker Dr-1s, Nieuports, and Messerschmidt Me-109s, while aerial stunts have included comedy maneuvers performed in Piper J-3 Cubs by “randomly chosen” audience member Carl Spackle; Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome-borrowed Delsey Dives and balloon bursts targeted by Great Lakes Speedsters, Fleet 16Bs, and PT-17 Stearmans; speed races between runway-bound motorcycles and airborne, low-passing PT-17s; aerobatics by SF-260s; and skywriting by Sukhoi 29s.

A Sikorsky UH-34D Sea Horse Marine helicopter, used for combat rescue in Vietnam, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and by NASA during the Project Mercury astronaut recovery program, demonstrated search-and-rescue procedures.
Both Long Island aviation and formation flying are well represented. Past shows have featured Byrd, N3N, Fleet Model 16B, and N2S Stearman aircraft from the Bayport Aerodrome Society; P-40 Warhawks and P-51 Mustangs from Warbirds over Long Island; F4U Corsairs from the American Airpower Museum; and North American SNJ-2s from the Republic Airport-based Geico Skytypers.

Vintage vehicle and aircraft rides are available. Spectators bring their own lawn chairs and line them up next to the active runway. There is period dress and speeches are given by Tuskegee Airmen. Concession trucks sell everything from hot dogs to ice cream and souvenirs and numerous aviation-related schools and associations man booths.

The Grand Old Airshow, held in the fall, is a single-day, single-visit, outdoor glimpse toward the sky where Long Island’s multi-faceted aviation history was written and where it is now recreated.

6. Grumman Memorial Park

Grumman Memorial Park, located on a one-acre site of the former Grumman Aerospace Flight Test Facility in Calverton only one thousand feet from one of its runways, is, according to its self-description, “a volunteer effort paying tribute to the incredible advances in aviation and space flight that took place on Long Island thanks to the teamwork of the employees of the Grumman Corporation. This dedicated band of people took aviation from the fight deck of a US Navy aircraft carrier to man’s first steps on the moon.”

Leroy Randle Grumman, the man behind this company’s name, had been born on January 4, 1895 and established the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation 35 years later, according to the park’s plaque “in a small garage in Baldwin, Long Island, New York. There and later in Valley Stream, Farmingdale, Bethpage, Calverton, and locations throughout the country, the company designed and produced innovative aircraft and spacecraft for both the military forces of the United States and the civilian market.” Incorporated in all these designs had been the company’s straightforward philosophy of “keep it simple…build it strong….make it work.”

Phase One of the park, completed on October 28, 2000, had been dedicated to “preserving the legacy of the Grumman Corporation (and) to the men and women who designed, built, and flew the aircraft and spacecraft that soared into the heavens and beyond.”

Centerpiece, mounted on a pedestal in a climbing profile, is an F-14A Tomcat. Powered by two 20,900 thrust-pound, afterburner-equipped Pratt and Whitney TF30-P-414A turbofans, the swing-wing, variable-geometry fighter, whose sweepback varies from 20 degrees in the forward to 68 degrees in the aft position, was the 331st such Tomcat airframe to roll off the nearby Calverton assembly line and first flew from the almost arm’s reach runway on July 6, 1979. Delivered two months later to the US Navy’s VF-101 Fighter Squadron in Oceana, Virginia, it carried 2,385 gallons of fuel, including that accommodated in two, 267-gallon external tanks, and had a 1,191-mile nonstop range. The Mach 2 aircraft had provided 25 years of service before being decommissioned, and had been one of 712 F-14s to have been produced between 1970 and 1992.

Surrounded by inscribed bricks, which comprise the “Walk of Honor,” the display has several interactive features, including a visitor-controlled audible recording of its story, sounds of an afterburner take off, and wing and tail light activation.

The second aircraft on display, part of the park’s Phase Two expansion, is the Grumman A-6E Intruder located on the other side of the small parking lot. Tracing its origins to its initial version, the A2F-1 which had first flown in 1960, it was one of 693 all-weather attack aircraft which were powered by two Pratt and Whitney J-52 P-8B turbojets and had maximum take off weights of 58,600 pounds. Operating at 42,400-foot ceilings, the 648-mph aircraft could deliver eight 500-pound bombs with pinpoint accuracy, and it could carry an entire arsenal of weapons, striking targets more than 500 miles from the aircraft carrier on which it had been based without the need for refueling. Production ceased in 1997.

Aside from the two aircraft themselves, displays include the original Calverton Plant 7 flagpole, a Bethpage Plant 14 guard booth, and a Bethpage runway section, along with its side light, from which every Grumman F6F Hellcat had taken off.

Also viewable is a Hughes AIM-54A Phoenix long-range air-to-air missile, an integral part of the F-14 Tomcat AWG-9 Weapon System. Featuring a 13-foot length and three-foot wingspan, the device had a 1,021-pound gross weight, of which its 132-pound warhead had been propelled by a solid rocket motor. Traveling at a speed of Mach 5, it had a 96-mile range. The F-14 could carry up to six such Phoenix missiles.

Grumman Memorial Park, a work-in-progress whose nine additional acres will eventually encompass a visitor center and other aircraft displays, offers an initial glimpse into Grumman’s superior military designs only yards from the factory which had hatched them.

7. Conclusion

Long Island’s six-decade aerial journey, which had begun on its Hempstead Plains in 1909 when Glenn Curtiss had first taken off in the Golden Flyer biplane and ended when the Lunar Module had first landed on the moon’s Sea of Tranquility in 1969, is expertly recounted by its world-class aviation sights.

The History of Republic Airport

1. Farmingdale’s Aviation Origins:

Located in Farmingdale, Long Island, Republic Airport is an historically significant airfield to the region and the world, having played both military and civilian roles. But long before it became an airfield, it gave rise to the manufacturers that built airplanes.

“The Industrial Revolution and airplane manufacture came to Farmingdale during World War I when Lawrence Sperry and Sydney Breese established their pioneering factories in the community,” wrote Ken Neubeck and Leroy E. Douglas in their book, Airplane Manufacturing in Farmingdale (Arcadia Publishing, 2016, p. 9). “They were drawn by the presence of two branches of the Long Island Railroad… the nearby Route 24, which brought auto and truck traffic to and from the Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge in Manhattan; the level outwash plain, which provided land for flying fields; and the proximity to skilled workers… “

The area’s first aviation roots, however, were planted as far back as 1917. The Lawrence Sperry Airplane Company, incorporated that year with $50,000 of capital and located on Rose and Richard streets in the village of Farmingdale, produced its first aircraft in the form of the Messenger.

Designed by Alfred Verville of the US Army’s Engineering Division at McCook Field, the minuscule, 17.9-foot-long, all-wood biplane was intended for “aerial motorcycle” missions, alighting in small clearings to drop off and pick-up messages from field commanders, thus earning its name. Farmingdale’s aviation roots were equally cultivated by Sydney Breese, whose Breese Aircraft Company, located on Eastern Parkway, designed the Penguin. Resembling the Bleriot XI, the mid-wing airplane, powered by a two-cylinder, 28-hp, roughly-running Lawrence engine, was a non-flying, preflight trainer intended to aid US Army pilot transition from primary to operational types. Deployed on the open prairies of Texas, it sported a wingspan too short to produce lift, but allowed fledgling aviators to gain the feel of pre-departure aerodynamic forces on their horizontal tails. Of the 301 produced, only five were ever used for this purpose; the remainder were placed in storage.

2. Fairchild Aviation Corporation:

If Lawrence Sperry and Sydney Breese laid Farmingdale’s aviation foundation, then Sherman M. Fairchild cemented it.

Initially interested in aerial photography equipment, he founded the Fairchild Aerial Camera Corporation in 1920, selling two such devices to the Army, and further developed the company into Fairchild Aerial Surveys to engage in map-making when he had received a contract for an additional 20.

Seeking to replace the myriad of airplane types he operated with a single, specifically- designed camera platform, Fairchild devised the required specifications for one, but could not locate a manufacturer able to build it at a reasonable cost. Forced to do so himself, he established his third aviation company, the Fairchild Aviation Corporation, and moved into the Sperry factory in South Farmingdale, vacated as a result of founder Sperry’s tragic death in December of 1923.

The high-wing, strut-braced, single-engine utility aircraft, designated FC-1 and first flying in prototype form in 1926, featured an enclosed and heated cabin to protect the pilot and his camera equipment, but its original OX-5 engine proved inadequate. Retrofitted with a higher-capacity Wright J-4, it was redesignated FC-1A.

The FC-2 production version, supported by wheels, floats, or skis, featured increased cabin volume. Powered by a 200-hp Wright J-5, the aircraft, intended for commercial operations, sported a 31-foot overall length and 44-foot wingspan. Accommodating a single pilot and four passengers, or up to 820 pounds of cargo, it had a 3,400-pound gross weight and could attain maximum, 122-mph speeds and operate 700-mile segments.

Demand at the South Farmingdale factory soon eclipsed capacity. After aerially surveying the region, Fairchild himself chose a 77,967-acre alternate on the south side of Route 24 and Conklin Street in East Farmingdale, a site which offered prevailing, South Shore winds and multiple-mode ground access by means of a railroad line and the major, Route 110 corridor, which would facilitate both personnel and raw material transport to the new field. Repackaged into airplanes, the latter could then fly out.

“The 77,967-acre Fairchild Flying Field was developed in the late winter and early spring of 1928 and was originally owned and operated by the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Manufacturing Company,” according to the Long Island-Republic Airport Historical Society. “The first flights from (it) took place in (the) late spring of 1928 after the Fairchild Airplane and the Fairchild Engine factories were completed and aircraft were produced (there). Fairchild built Model 41, 41A, 42, 21, 100, and 150 airplanes… “

Wings, like those of the Hempstead Plains to the west, once again rose from the farm fields of Long Island, built, propelled, and supported, respectively, by the Fairchild Airplane Factory, the Fairchild Engine Factory, and the Fairchild Flying Field, after Faircam Realty, Inc., purchased the land and its initial layout was established on November 3, 1927.

Although Fairchild produced multiple models at its new Long Island aviation center, its roots would quickly prove tenuous. Moving its headquarters to Hagerstown, Maryland, in 1931, after only three years, it vacated its facilities, which were almost immediately reoccupied by the American Corporation, or AVCO, whose Airplane and Engine divisions produced the Pilgrim 100 transport for American Airways. But the Depression, taking too large a bite out of the economy, severely diminished demand for it, since aircraft acquisitions were high on a company’s cost reduction list, and its presence proved shorter than Fairchild’s. By mid-1932, it had equally disappeared.

3. Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation:

Initially located in Valley Stream, where it designed floats, the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation moved further east, to the Fairchild Flying Field, and took up residence in the former Fulton Truck Factory, where it hatched its first production fighter, the FF-1. Powered by a single, 750-hp Wright engine, the biplane, with a retractable undercarriage, was also offered in scout configuration, as the SF-1.

The most significant aircraft to emerge from the East Farmingdale production line, however, was the Duck. Tracing its origins to the Loening Aeronautical Engineering Corporation’s XO2L-1, it had been submitted to the US Navy in 1931, but, since Loening himself lacked the required facilities to build it, he turned to Leroy Grumman, his former colleague, who re-submitted it in modified form. Accepted on April 25, 1933, the biplane, called XJF-1, was powered by a 700-hp Twin Wasp engine, which drove a three-bladed Hamilton Standard propeller. Its bracing, consisting of one set of struts outboard of the fuselage and a second one, of wires, between the two wings, was minimal for its day. Water operations were supported by a centerline, under-fuselage float, into which the undercarriage retracted.

In all, 632 JF and J2F Ducks were produced, pressed into global, multiple-role service.

Although Grumman’s Farmingdale presence exceeded that of all others, it nevertheless ended after a half-decade, in 1937, when it relocated to larger headquarters in Bethpage, Long Island.

4. Seversky Aircraft Corporation:

Seversky Aircraft Corporation next took center stage in Farmingdale when it relocated there from College Point in Queens, occupying the former American Corporation factory.

A decorated World War I ace, Alexander P. de Seversky, like Igor Sikorsky, immigrated to the US from Russia, and in 1923, developed the first gyroscopically-stabilized bombsight at the Sperry Gyroscope Company, before establishing his own Seversky Aero Corporation, which focused on aircraft instruments and parts.

Injected with fresh capital, it initially occupied the EDO Corporation’s floatplane factory.

His first major design, the SEV-3, was both aerodynamically sleek and progressive, reflecting Seversky’s aviation-intuitive nature. Powered by a single, 420-hp, nose-mounted, Wright J-6 Whirlwind engine, the all-metal, low-wing aircraft, accommodating a pilot and two passengers in sliding, tandem canopied cockpits, was either supported by a wheeled undercarriage or floats, and in 1933 established a world speed record for piston amphibians. Two years later, on September 15, it sustained a 230-mph airspeed.

The foundation of many subsequent versions, which externally exhibited only minor variations over the basic design, it evolved into the next major iteration, the BT-8. As the first all-metal, enclosed cockpit design operated by the US Army Air Corps, it featured a 24.4-foot length and 36-foot wingspan. Powered by the 400-hp Pratt and Whitney R-985-11, the 4,050-pound airplane, accommodating two, had a 175-mph maximum speed. Thirty were built. It led to the definitive version.

Originally occupying Hangar 2 on New Highway and today used by the American Airpower Museum, Seversky Aircraft Corporation took over the Grumman factory in 1937 when it had relocated to Bethpage, thus maintaining two facilities. But, echoing the short history of the East Farmingdale airfield’s tenants, it came to an abrupt end: although Seversky, like many other aviation-minded “geniuses,” possessed the necessary design skills to create progressive airplanes, he lacked the necessary managerial flip-side of the equation needed to devise a proper, and profitable, business plan to market them, resulting in a $550,000 loss by April of 1939. While conducting a European sales tour six months later, on October 13, he was ousted by his own board of directors, who voted for his removal from the very company he had founded.

Reorganized, it was rebranded “Republic Aviation Corporation.”

5. Republic Aviation Corporation:

Fairchild Flying Field’s fortune was about to change. Fueled by World War II, the fledgling Republic Aviation Corporation would explode in size and its roots would become so deeply implanted in Farmingdale soil that it would be decades before they could be unearthed.

Instrumental in that war was the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.

Succeeding the Seversky P-35, it was the result of Army Air Corps requirements, which included a 400-mph airspeed, a 25,000-foot service ceiling, at least six.50-caliber machine guns, armor plating protection, self-sealing fuel tanks, and a minimum fuel capacity of 315 gallons.

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, which dwarfed all other aircraft, was the world’s largest, heaviest, single-engine, single-seat strategic World War II fighter, offering unequaled dive speeds.

War-fed growth of the officially-renamed “Republic Airport” resulted in the expansion of the company’s existing factory on the south side of Conklin Street, as well as the construction of three additional buildings, the installation of a control tower, and the lengthening of its existing runways, all in an effort to support P-47 production, which totaled 9,087 units in Farmingdale alone and required a work force of 24,000 to accomplish by 1944. Employees filtered in by the thousands every day. A round-the-clock production line spat a completed aircraft out of the factory every hour, and these were then ferried by the Women Air Force Service Pilots, or WASPs. Republic Aviation, one of the country’s primary defense arteries, pumped man-and-machine into the agricultural plains of Farmingdale and transformed them into an arsenal of democracy within an 18-month period.

“By 1945, Republic was contributing more than 30 percent of the Army Air Force fighters to the war effort against the Luftwaffe in the skies of Europe,” wrote Leroy E. Douglas in his “Conklin Street Cut-Off” article published in the September 1984 issue of Long Island Forum (p. 182). “Thus, Republic, Ranger, and its 23,000 plus workers-more than half of whom were women-did their part to win the war.”

When World War II’s doors closed, so, too, did those of the Thunderbolt factory, and Republic was forced to diversify its product range in terms of purpose and powerplant, converting military Douglas C-54 Skymasters into commercial DC-4 airliners, producing 1,059 civilian Seabee amphibian aircraft, and attempting to design a passenger transport of its own.

The resultant aircraft, the Republic XF-12 Rainbow–along with the competing, and identically-powered, Hughes XF-11–both received a contract for two.

Emulating the graceful lines of the Lockheed Constellation, the Rainbow, featuring a 93.9-foot overall length and incorporating design experience amassed during Republic’s fighter aircraft development, exuded an appearance quintessentially captured by Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine when it reported, “The sharp nose and cylindrical cigar shape of the XF-12 fulfills a designer’s dream of a no-compromise design with aerodynamic considerations.”

Peace proved the aircraft’s enemy. The close of World War II obviated its (and the comparable Hughes XF-11’s) need. Nevertheless, because of its long-range, high-speed and -altitude, day and night, limited-visibility photo-reconnaissance capability, it was ideal as a territory-mapping platform. Indeed, on September 1, 1948, the second of only two aircraft built photographed its transcontinental flight path from the Air Force Flight Test Center in Muroc, California, to Mitchell Field in Garden City, Long Island, during Operation Birds Eye.

Returning to its military roots, Republic entered the pure-jet era with a P-47 Thunderbolt successor.

Featuring a 37.5-foot length, the design, conceived shortly before the end of the war in 1944, retained the straight wings associated with propeller airplanes. These spanned 36.5 feet.

First flying on February 28, 1946, the 19,689-pound fighter-bomber, designated F-84 Thunderjet and able to climb at 4,210-fpm, established a national speed record of 611 mph, as powered by the 3,750-thrust-pound J35-GE-7. Its range was 1,282 miles and its service ceiling was 40,750 feet. Its production totaled 4,455 units.

Development of its successor began in 1949. Because of an Air Force funding shortage, Republic reduced development costs by retaining commonality, to the tune of 60 percent, with the F-84, but introduced swept wings. The aircraft, powered by a 4,200 thrust-pound Allison XJ35-A-25 engine and initially designated YF-96A, first flew on June 3 of the following year, three months before it was renamed F-84F Thunderstreak.

Korean War-sparked fund increases enabled Republic to complete a second prototype, which first flew on February 14, 1951 with a YJ65-W-1 engine, and it was followed by the first production example, which took to the skies on November 22, 1952. The type was deployed by NATO countries during the Cold War.

F-84F Thunderstreak production totaled 2,713 airplanes.

Nevertheless, Ken Neubeck and Leroy E. Douglas summarized Republic-based aircraft manufacturing by stating in their book, Airplane Manufacturing in Farmingdale (pp. 7-8). “While aviation started in Farmingdale with cloth-covered triplanes and biplanes and prop engines, after World War II Republic helped moved the United States into the jet age with the F-84 and F-84F, which assisted US forces in Korea and NATO nations in the 1950s.”

6. Fairchild Republic Corporation

Although Fairchild departed the very airport it had created in 1931, that absence was short-lived. Reappearing three years later, it took up residence in its former engine factory as the newly formed Ranger Aircraft and Engine Corporation and remained there until 1948. But, for a second time, history was to come full cycle.

Acquiring Hiller Helicopters nine years later, it became Fairchild Hiller, and in July of 1965, it purchased the majority of Republic stock, resulting in the Republic Aviation Division of Fairchild Hiller. Fairchild had thus returned to the soil in which it had planted its first seeds. In 1971, it continued its buying spree, purchasing Swearingen and producing and marketing the 19-passenger, twin-turboprop Fairchild-Swearingen Metro commuter airliner. The following year, the company adopted the official title of “Fairchild Republic.”

Its principle design, conceptualized before the Republic acquisition, was given birth by the Air Force requirement for a close air support aircraft incorporating simplicity, ease of maintenance, and short-field performance, in order to operate from small forward air bases close to the battle line.

Designated A-10 Thunderbolt II and enjoying a production run of 733, it was instrumental in the Gulf War and during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

7. Post-War Manufacturing:

Although Republic Airport and its aviation companies had been associated with mostly-military aircraft design and manufacture, several diverse commercial and space components also emerged from its doors.

Integral to the Boeing 747, for instance, were the leading edge slats, trailing edge flaps, spoilers, and ailerons built by the Republic Aviation division of Fairchild Hiller, while it was also contracted to provide a similar role in its proposed, but canceled, supersonic 2707 airliner.

Equally integral to the Space Shuttle were the Fairchild Republic components manufactured in Farmingdale.

After awarded a $13 million contract by Rockwell International of Los Angeles on March 29, 1973, Fairchild Hiller designed and developed six aluminum vertical tail stabilizers, which sported 45-degree leading edges and measured 27 feet high by 22 feet long, in Hangar 17, along with their associated rudders and speedbrakes. The first, installed on test vehicle Enterprise, facilitated its atmospheric launch from a piggy-backed 747 platform over Edwards Air Force Base on February 18, 1977, while the others were mounted on Space Shuttles Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor.

Expanding the commuter airliner involvement initiated with the Swearingen Metro, Fairchild Republic signed an agreement with Saab-Scania of Sweden on January 25, 1980 to launch the SF-340, in what became the first fully collaborative venture between a US and European aviation manufacturer. Fairchild Republic was contracted to design and build its wings, engine nacelles, and vertical and horizontal tail surfaces, with final assembly occurring in Sweden.

Fairchild Swearingen was assigned North American marketing responsibility, while a jointly owned Swedish company, Saab-Fairchild HB, established an office in Paris to fulfill this function elsewhere.

Powered by twin turboprop engines, the aircraft accommodated 34 passengers in a four-abreast configuration with a central aisle.

After completing some 100 wing sets, however, Fairchild terminated its contract work on the regional airliner, withdrawing from all civil projects, and the aircraft was redesignated the Saab 340.

8. Changing Roles:

Passed the ownership torch on March 31, 1969, Republic Airport was thereinafter operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which continued to transform it into a public-use entity by acquiring 94 adjacent acres from the US government and purchasing an additional 115 privately owned ones to the south and southwest.

“The Metropolitan Transportation Authority took title to Republic Airport as a first step in converting it into a general aviation (field),” according to the Long Island-Republic Airport Historical Society.

Initiating a modernization program, it made several improvements. High-intensity lights were installed on 5,516-foot Runway 1-19 and 6,827-foot Runway 14-32, for example, the latter of which was also equipped with an instrument landing system (ILS). The Fulton Truck Factory, the airport’s original structure dating from 1916, was razed, while Flightways transformed a ten-acre site on the north side of Route 109 into a complex of new hangars, administration buildings, fuel storage tanks, and aircraft tie-downs. A dual-level Administration, Terminal, and Maintenance building opened in 1983, not far from, and shortly before, the operational phase-in of a 100-foot, $2.2 million FAA control tower.

In order to promote economic development of the surrounding region, New York State legislature transferred ownership, for a third time, to the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) on April 1, 1983, which was advised by a nine-member Republic Airport Commission. It hardly curtailed the modernization momentum.

Indeed, eight years later, a $3.5 million, 25,600-square-foot Grumman Corporate Hangar, replacing the aircraft storage facility previously maintained at its now-closed Bethpage airfield and housing a Beechcraft King Air, a Gulfstream I, and two British Aerospace BAe-125-800s, opened.

In April of 1993, ground was broken for a $3.3 million, 20,000-square-foot SUNY Farmingdale Aerospace Education Center on the east side of Route 110.

Million Air, a subsidiary of Executive Air Support, constructed an 11,700-square-foot Executive Air Terminal and corporate hangar on the airport’s south end, and, by 2001, Air East commenced operations in its own, new, radiant-heated, 10,000-square-foot hangar, which also featured a 2,500-square-foot shop and 4,500-square-foot office and flight school. Yet another hangar-and-office complex, located in the Lambert area, opened its doors in June of 2005 when Talon Air, a charter company, began operations from it.

In order to provide increased clearance needed by the latest-generation of business jets, such as the Gulfstream V and the Bombardier Global Express, taxiway B (bravo) was relocated.

Indeed, more than $18 million in capital improvements were made since 2000 alone.

These enhancements, provisioning the airport for its new, general aviation role, had perhaps been a premonition of things to come.

In 1982, Fairchild Republic won a contract to build two new-generation Air Force T-46A training jets; but, the milestone, initially envisioned as a monetary lifeline, only provided the reverse effect: although the prototype was first rolled out three years later, it lacked some 1,200 parts, and although the second made a successful, 24-minute maiden flight in July of 1986, the contract for the program, fraught with controversy, was canceled, resulting in the layoffs of 500 employees.

Like so many companies dependent upon military contracts for survival, Fairchild Republic, without choice, ceased to exist the following year, leaving its sprouting factories and a legacy, which had begun six decades earlier. Ironically, the two names which had been the most instrumental in the airport’s beginning and growth-Fairchild and Republic-were the same two which had been involved in its demise. The doors of the Farmingdale airfield’s primarily-military aircraft manufacturing and testing chapter thus closed, and those to its general aviation one opened.

“With the company experiencing major financial problems in 1986-1987 and with the loss of support for the T-46A program in Congress, Fairchild terminated both the SF-340 and T-46A production after building only four aircraft,” according to Ken Neubeck and Leroy E. Douglas in Airplane Manufacturing in Farmingdale (p. 99). “Thus, by the fall of 1987, seventy years of airplane manufacturing in Farmingdale ended with employment and economic loss to the community and the New York metropolitan area.”

9. Airline Service:

In 1966, a year after ownership of Republic Airport was transferred from Fairchild Hiller to Farmingdale Corporation, it was officially designated a general aviation (civil) facility, fielding its first landing, of a twin-engine Beechcraft operated by Ramey Air Service from Islip, on December 7. In order to transform it into a gateway by facilitating airline connections at the three major New York airports, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority contracted with Air Spur to provide this feeder service four years later, assessing $12 one-way fares.

Although Republic was never envisioned as a major commercial airport, its central Long island location, proximity to the Route 110 corridor, and considerable infrastructure poised it for limited, scheduled and charter service to key business and leisure destinations within neighboring states. Yet its inherent operational limitation was succinctly stated in the 2000 Republic Airport Master Plan Update.

“At Republic Airport,” it explained (Chapter 3, p. 8), “the New York State Department of Transportation implemented an aircraft weight limitation of 60,000 pounds in 1984. This weight limitation restricts the operation of aircraft over 60,000 pounds actual gross weight without the written consent of the airport operator.”

“Forecasts indicate that there will be an increase in the number of jet aircraft based at Republic Airport,” the Master Plan Update stated, “as well as an increase in jet operations,” as ultimately proven by annual pure-jet operation statistics: 2,792 in fiscal year 1986, 4,056 in 1990, 4,976 in 1995, and 6,916 in 1998. And, of its average annual number of based aircraft-about 500-this segment was also the fastest growing: 10 jet aircraft in 1985, 15 in 1995, and 20 in 1998. That number has since more than doubled.

One of the first scheduled airline attempts was made in 1978 when Cosmopolitan Airlines, operating an ex-Finnair Convair CV-340 and two ex-Swissair CV-440 Metropolitans in single-class, four-abreast, configurations, offered all-inclusive, single-day, scheduled charter packages to Atlantic City from its Cosmopolitan Sky Center. Its flyer had advised: “Fly to Atlantic City for only $19.95 net. Here’s how it works: Pay $44.95 for a round-trip flight ticket to Atlantic City, including ground transportation to and from the Claridge Hotel and Casino. Upon arrival at the Claridge, you’ll receive $20.00 in food and beverage credits good at any restaurant except the London Pavilion. You will also receive a $5.00 flight credit good for your next fight to the Claridge on Cosmopolitan Airlines.”

The carrier also briefly attempted to offer two daily scheduled round-trips to Boston on its 52-passenger CV-440s in 1980.

Facilitating this scheduled service growth was the construction of a passenger terminal.

“The terminal building, completed in 1983, has approximately 50,000 square feet of useable floor space and houses airport service vehicles, maintenance, fire protection, public terminal space, and rental areas on the first floor, plus administration offices on the second floor. Approximately 70 employees work in the building,” according to the 2000 Republic Airport Master Plan Update (Chapter 1, p. 17).

Attempting to establish a link between Farmingdale and the major New York metropolitan airport of Newark International in order to feed its departures, PBA Provincetown Boston Airline commenced shuttle service with Cessna C-402 commuter aircraft, connecting Long Island by means of a 30-minute aerial hop with up to five daily round-trips and coordinating schedules with PEOPLExpress Airlines. It advertised avoidance of the excessive drive-times, parking costs, and longer check-in requirements otherwise associated with larger-airport usage, and offered the convenience of through-fares, ticketing, and baggage check to any PEOPLExpress final destination.

According to its June 20, 1986 Northern System timetable, it offered Farmingdale departures at 0700, 0950, 1200, 1445, and 1755.

Demand soon necessitated replacement of the C-402 with a larger, 19-seat Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante.

All of these brief, unsuccessful scheduled attempts, nullifying local residents’ ill-founded concern that Republic would ultimately develop into a major commercial airport and inflict its noise on close-proximity ears, failed to attract the needed traffic to render them self-supporting, emphasizing several airport-specific factors.

1). Republic was consistently associated with general, and not scheduled, operations during the latter part of its history.

2). Long Island MacArthur had already established itself as the island’s principle commercial facility, and carriers, as demonstrated by Precision/Northwest Airlink, gained no revenue advantage by diluting the same market, yet incurring increased airport and operational costs to do so.

“Republic Airport has had service by various commuter airlines and each has ceased service… ,” according to the 2000 Republic Airport Master Plan Update. “The commuter service market area is limited, geographically, taking into account the larger airports, such as La Guardia, Kennedy, and MacArthur and the service they offer.”

“Since 1969, Republic Airport has accommodated the region’s need for an airport devoted to private and business aircraft, as well as charter and commuter operations,” it also stated (Chapter 1, p. 1). “Because Republic is situated in the midst of residential, commercial, and industrial development, its role is inconsistent with that of a scheduled air carrier airport for commercial jet transport.”

With the number of annual passengers having consistently increased-from 13,748 in 1985 and 30,564 in 1990 to 33,854 in 1995-its future commuter role could not be entirely ruled out.

“While past efforts by commuter airlines have not been successful, the potential for future service exists and is to be considered in the planning for the airport,” it concluded (Chapter 2, p. 10).

10. The Future:

Unlike Roosevelt and Glenn Curtiss fields, which succumbed to modern-era pressures and swapped their runways for shopping malls, 526-acre Republic only surrendered a small portion of itself to the Airport Plaza Shopping Center. Instrumental in early-aviation development and in the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, and Iraq wars, it transformed itself into a general aviation facility, peaking with 546-based aircraft and becoming the third-largest New York airport in terms of movements after JFK International and La Guardia.

Billing itself as “the corporate airbridge for Long Island’s 21st-century economy,” this westernmost Long Island general aviation facility accounts for 1,370 jobs and $139.6 million of economic activity, supporting 60 on-airport businesses. The 110,974 movements recorded in 2008 encompassed 52 by non-rigid airships, 7,120 by rotary wing, 76,236 by single-engine pistons, 6,310 by twin-engine pistons, 5,028 by turboprops, and 16,228 by pure-jets. The latter, its second-highest total, emphasizes its increasing role as the “Teterboro of Long Island,” perhaps pointing the way to its future. Indeed, companies considering the area for their corporate locations cite the airport as a major asset, since it provides close-proximity aerial access for personnel and materials.

Toward that end, the State of New York approved funding in April of 2009 for a Vision Planning process to collect data from residents, employees, businesses, and users, and then plot its future course. Specifically, the program had a three-fold purpose-namely, to define the airport’s role, to determine how it will fill that role, and, finally, to ascertain how it will work with the community to attain the desired operational and economic goals.

“As part of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS), Republic Airport is designated as a reliever airport with commercial service,” according to the 2000 Republic Airport Master Plan Update (Chapter 1, p. 1). “Under ownership by the New York State Department of Transportation, there are specific state development and policy procedures which are followed.”

Although it may never eclipse its current general aviation role, its importance was not to be underestimated.

“”Republic Airport is an important regional asset,” it stated (Chapter 1, p. 1). “It provides significant transportation and economic benefits to both Suffolk and Nassau counties. The policy of the New York State Department of Transportation and the Republic Airport Commission shall be that Republic Airport continue to better serve Long Island.”

Whatever the future holds for it, it has a nine-decade foundation upon which to base it, as acknowledged by the plaque hung in the passenger terminal by the Long Island-Republic Airport Historical Society, “honor(ing) the tens of thousands of men and women who labored here in East Farmingdale, contributing significantly to aviation technology and aircraft production.” Those men and woman turned the wheels of the 11 aviation companies based there.

Sources

Long Island Republic Airport Historical Society website.

Neubeck, Ken, and Douglas, Leroy E. Airplane Manufacturing in Farmingdale. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2016.

2000 Republic Airport Master Plan Update, New York State Department of Transportation.

Three Decades Of Entertainment Evolution

Video game consoles were introduced to us 34 years ago. This electronic device allows us to play games by manipulating the display signal using the controller. This interactive entertainment gained instant popularity and changed how people are entertained.

The first game console was released in 1976 by a company called Fairchild. Even though gaming is already popular by 1950’s, Fairchild was able to enhance how these games were played, and this is the only time when the term game console became popular. This is called Fairchild Video Entertainment System, and it began the revolution in the gaming world.

After this historic event several other companies have their consoles like Atari and Nintendo. By the year 1985 everyone thought that this industry is coming to an end due to the substandard cartridges being manufactured by companies. A lot of the giant gaming powerhouses were forced to shut down their businesses leaving three companies, Atari, Nintendo, and Sega, in a great form.

Unfortunately, Atari was not able to stabilize the market; hence they were forced to pull out of the business before 1990. Two years after Atari went out of business, Nintendo and Sega were closely competing with each other when Sony suddenly entered the scene.

They introduced the first-ever video game console that uses CDs to play matches, which are a lot cheaper compared to cartridges that are being used by Nintendo and Sega. This is the time when Sony gained its popularity in the gaming world.

In 2002, software giant Microsoft competes with Sega, Nintendo, and Sony by releasing their own product called Xbox. With vast resources, they were able to rise to the top, and have put Sega out of business. Today, we know Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo to be the top three game console manufacturers today, but there is a great story behind this evolution in the entertainment world.