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The Aviation Foundation of Long Island
Sparsely populated, as can be seen from the once sparse scattering of farm houses, Long Island, still in a rural state, was surrounded by forests, but one clearing stood in the middle, towards the most east of the Mississippi River, like an oasis in the desert. , and was a spawning ground for air life. It was called “Hempstead Plains.” Almost as primitive as an air threshold, its flat, unobstructed areas were called aviation, providing a place for flight tests, flight ranges, and pilot schools, an area where vehicles would spread their wings and fly. rise from the hatched womb, continuing to ascend. a path that would one day send out the atmosphere and connect the planet with its moon.
Located on the eastern edge of the country, a dividing line that only looked diagonally to the west or across the ocean to the European continent, the area, close to New York, did not make the most populous city in the world, but to consolidate this base geographically. .
Glenn Hammond Curtiss, the first man to achieve an aerial victory over Long Island with his Golden Flyer airplane, won the Scientific American trophy after completing a 25-kilometer, 30-lap flight around the Mineola Airport on July 17, 1909, attracting other aviation enthusiasts and the first commercial customer of an airplane.
As a result of the growing interest in aviation and experimentation, rapidly diminishing the limits of the small field, Hempstead Plains Airport was established nearby which covered an area of nearly 1,000 acres. 25 wooden hangars and high centers were demolished by the summer of 1911. The Moissant School, the first civilian center of its kind in the country, opened with a fleet of seven Bleriot monoplanes operating out of five structures. They later issued the first female pilot’s license, to Harriet Quimby.
Long Island’s soil, nurturing aircraft as well as grass, had provided a stage for the first International Air Meet the year before at Belmont Park in Elmont, attracting both pilots and USA and Europe who raced and set speed and performance records with an ever-growing collection. of early designs, and Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn was the origin of the first transcontinental flight piloted by Calbraith Rogers in the Wright Brothers-designed EX Vin Fiz biplane on September 17, 1911. He ended up in San Diego, California, 49 days later, despite a painful series of layoffs and airframe rebuilds—which required crashes.
The first US airmail route, albeit a short, temporary six-mile stretch from Garden City to Mineola in a Bleriot plane, also took place that year.
Hempstead Plains Airfield, taking on a military role, provided a place for New York National Guard pilot training in 1915, and two years later, it had become one of only two military fields in the United States with a fleet of four Curtiss JN-4 Jenny aircraft. This was also the year when it was renamed “Hazelhurst Field,” in honor of an Army pilot who lost his life in a plane crash.
To accommodate the increased demand for Army pilot training, Field #2 was established south of the existing Hazelhurst Airport in 1917 and was renamed “Mitchel Field” in July of the following year – Mayor New York City John Purroy Mitchell.
The first regularly scheduled airmail service, which took place in May 1918 from Washington to Belmont Park with Curtiss Jennys, was followed the next year by the first transatlantic crossing from Long Island to Portugal with three of Navy personnel, quad-engined Curtiss NC Flying Boats, only one of which finally reached continental Europe after two intermediate stops in Newfoundland and the Azores.
Many of Long Island’s aircraft manufacturers had their roots in the First World War.
As a result of the “Golden Age of Aviation”, associated with numerous records of speed, distance, and altitude, two famous airplanes came without stopping. The first of these, involving a single-engine Fokker T-2, led to a 26-hour, 50-minute transcontinental flight from Roosevelt Field to San Francisco in 1923, and was the second the famous musician of Charles Lindbergh, who was famous around the world, non-stop, flight across the Atlantic four years later, on May 20, 1927, in the Spirit of St.
After being spread out almost symbolically in the foggy shower before its departure, the silver monoplane entered the darkness, doubt, and obscurity of consensus belief regarding the effort, but the little orange glow piercing the sky in the distance was somehow reflected. promise and hope — a target to aim for. From this angle, however, France looked just as infinite in size. However, the precarious movement, mud and water, which barely cleared the trees, was the threshold for the 3,610 miles that were successfully covered across the Atlantic to Paris.
In 1929, Roosevelt Field, after merging with the former half known as “Curtiss Field,” was considered the “Greatest Airport of the World” because of its paved runways and runways. taxi, instrument flight equipment, hangars, restaurants and hotels, and by the driveway. in the early 1930s, it was the largest facility in the country with 450 fixed aircraft and about 400 movements per hour. It had also been home to the Roosevelt Air School, one of the largest civilian pilot training facilities in the US.
During a three-year post-World War I expansion phase, occurring between 1929 and 1932, Mitchel Field developed into one of the largest military facilities in the United States, with eight steel and concrete hangars, a barracks, operational buildings, and warehouses. , and was home to many fighter, bomber, and observation crews. The first nonstop transcontinental bomber flight, operated by a B-18 in 1938, took off here, and two P-40 Warhawk squadrons were based in the area during World War II.
Indeed, wartime demand only deepened Long Island’s aviation base, leading to an explosion in the design and manufacture of military aircraft by 1945, at which time there were approximately 100,000 local residents. has been involved in aviation-related employment, particularly with the Republic Plane. Corporation and the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, in a man-and-machine merger that had a major impact on the war.
The first of these, founded in 1931 as Seversky Aircraft Corporation, moved to larger facilities, renaming it Republic Aviation Corporation seven years later and becoming the second largest supplier of fighters to the Army Air Corps because of the number of high performance P. -47 Thunderbolts sold to them.
The second of these, founded in 1930 by Leroy Grumman, became the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation and was associated with Navy and amphibious aircraft, the former including the two FF-1 sets, the F4F Wildcat, the F6F Hellcat, the TBM/TBF Avenger, the F7F Tigercat, and the F8F Bearcat, the latter including the Grumman Goose, Widgeon, Mallard, and Albatross .
Change, a post-war situation, however, began to tug at Long Island’s aviation roots, as no longer needed military aircraft contracts were canceled and suburbs choked Roosevelt and Mitchell Fields to to close Nevertheless, more than 64,000 civilian and military aircraft had been born by the manufacturers by this time.
Going beyond the atmosphere, aviation transformed itself into aerospace.
Dr. Robert Goddard, who successfully designed the world’s first liquid fuel rockets in Massachusetts, received a $50,000 grant from Harry Guggenheim on Long Island to pursue related research and testing, and eventually designed beyond liquid fuel rocket engine, turbine fuel pump. , and a gyroscopically controlled steering device.
Eleven aerospace companies subsequently bid to design and manufacture the required Lunar Module transfer component of Project Apollo’s Moon Mission, allowing crew members to travel between the orbiting command module and surface of the moon, and NASA awarded the contract to Grumman in 1962. Two simulators, ten test models, and 13 active lunar modules were built during the Apollo Program, the most famous of which was the LM-5 “Eagle ,” which took off from the Apollo 11 spacecraft on July 20, 1969 and connected the first man to be with the moon, leaving his footprints and the base of the Lunar Model as an eternal witness this trick.
Thus the aerial seed sown on Long Island’s Hempstead Plains grew and grew, binding its own soil to the soil of the moon.
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