Friday, August 20, 2010

Hub of the Northeast

The other morning my neighbor, Pete Burch, out walking his yellow Lab, Bailey, and me for my morning constitutional with our dog, a “Benji” look alike named Corky, stopped me to inquire about East Hampton’s airport terminal. His hobby is to search old sites of interest with a metal detector and wanted some directions and history.

Many of you have flown out of there – correct? It was very important important in the history of aviation. Or would it be safe to say you are probably not acquainted with our airport? It served as a hub for the northeast for many years as I recall!!!

Created in the mid 1960s, the airport was the brainchild of a group of flight enthusiasts, including Ed Barton, Stanley Warzecka, and John Wall, who contracted with Conrad and Roland Lindquist to construct a runway on their Clark Hill land. Now the site of some fairly upscale homes in the Skyline Development, the property for about 6 years was a working airport at which Cessna’s and other light single and twin engine aircraft landed or were housed off the tarmac. Nothing like the major airports we all travel from, this former hayfield had grass edges to the macadam.

From this airport with my uncle, Ed Barton or Harry Bailey, father of my best friend Bart Bailey, I took my first plane rides. Accelerating from the North end of the property, near the terminal, a metal garage with an office and repair hanger, the runway slopped somewhat downhill, from which the plane effortlessly became airborne, revealing a stunning view of Lake Pocotopaug to our port side.

Landing was equally interesting as the pilot approached from the South “uphill” to a runway that appeared out of nowhere. The effect certainly tightened one’s stomach and chest as the pilot and plane decelerated with flaps down.

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