Long Island aviation history basics

1938: Douglas (WrongWay) Corrigan stands next to plane 1938: Douglas (WrongWay) Corrigan stands next to plane at Roosevelt Field in Garden City in this photo on the eve of his famous wrong-way flight to Dublin. Photo Credit: The Los Angeles Times / Wide World photos

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Long Island is known as the "Cradle of Aviation" for its many air fields and aircraft production facilities, particularly during World War II. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy is asking the National Park Service to study key areas on Long Island to determine if they should be designated national landmarks or historic places. They include:

The Hempstead Plains
About 950 acres in Garden City, now densely developed. The area was a training center for pilots as well as a hub for military aircraft research, development and production, and was home to three major airfields:

Roosevelt Field
Charles Lindbergh departed from Roosevelt Field for his 1927 trans-Atlantic flight in the Spirit of St. Louis. In the 1930s, it was the busiest civilian airfield in the United States.

Curtiss Field

Amelia Earhart and other women in 1929 founded the International Organization of Women Pilots, known as the Ninety-Nines. The Curtiss factory building still stands.

Mitchel Field
The former Air Force base opened in 1917. It was decommissioned in 1961 and is now home to the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Nassau Coliseum, Nassau Community College and Hofstra University.

Bethpage
Grumman Aircraft Co., based in Bethpage, built military aircraft and during World War II was the major producer of aircraft for the Navy. In 1962, Grumman won the contract to build the lunar module for the Apollo space program.

Farmingdale
Republic Aviation Corp. developed many important military planes, including the P-47 Thunderbolt, one of the main U.S. fighters of World War II. The American Airpower Museum is based at the former Republic factory site.

Westhampton
The Suffolk County Air Force Base in Westhampton in 1951 became the main Air Defense Command base for defending the metropolitan area from air attacks. The site is now the Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, a joint civil-military airport, and is used by the New York Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing.

Historic aviation sites in New York managed by the National Park Service or designated an historic site:

Floyd Bennett Field Historic Aviation District on Barren Island, Jamaica Bay. The site is part of the Park Service's Gateway National Recreation Area and was the first municipal airport in New York City. In 1938, Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan left the air field for California, but landed in Ireland.

Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport is the only active airport terminal dating from the first generation of U.S. passenger travel. The terminal, an Art Deco building completed in 1940, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982.

Miller Army Airfield Historic District on Staten Island was used from 1919 to 1921 as part of the aerial coast defense system that supplemented other U.S. coastal defenses. The site includes a double seaplane hangar, built in 1920, and a lighthouse, the Elm Tree Light.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986, two years after the ship opened as a museum. The Essex class carrier was built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. of Virginia and commissioned in 1943. 

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