Mar 05 2010

Then & Now: The Long Island Aviation Country Club on the Motor Parkway


Most Motor Parkway fans know our favorite parkway surrounded one of the world's most famous airports -Roosevelt Field. But, many LIMPers do not know that the Motor Parkway also bordered on another airfield- the Long Island Aviation Country Club. (Remember to click on the photo to enlarge the image).



 

The club was formed in June 1929 by a group of mostly affluent flyers based on Long Island. Instead of a country club with a golf course, the club had a field for airplanes. As shown in this map, the club was located just west of Jerusalem Avenue with the parkway being the southern border. The address was then Hicksville and later became Levittown, when William Levitt bought the property in the late 1940s.



 

This early 1930s aerial looking east shows the Long Island Aviation Country Club (left in the middle) and its relationship to the Motor Parkway. The Jerusalem Avenue Motor Parkway Bridge can be seen just east of the club.



 

A closer look of this aerial reveals the club's hangar, clubhouse, swimming pool and tennis court which were located in the same place as the Vanderbilt Cup Race press box and officials' stand (1908-1910). Even more fascinating, looking across the Motor Parkway, you can see the outline of a long-abandoned road that was used to reach the grandstand. The remnants of the race "pits" are visible as the long rectangular black box slightly to the west.



 

Click on this photo and you will see the most spectacular photo of the club and a sampling of its private planes.



 

Here was a gathering of flying enthusiasts at the Long Island Aviation Club for an annual air show. Among the members was William K. Vanderbilt Jr. In the 1930s, the club requested permission to open an entrance to the adjacent parkway. To their surprise and dismay, Vanderbilt refused, not wanting to set a precedent. One of the concrete posts that held twisted wire keeping club members off the Motor Parkway can be seen at the 1 minute 12 second mark of this film.



 

Members of the club including the flying elite of Long Island. Their 1940 club membership book listed; Col. Charles Lindbergh, Sherman Fairchild, L.R. (Leroy Randle) Grumman and several DuPonts. As described in the biography: Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Between the Sea and Stars, Charles Lindbergh taught his wife how to fly at the Long Island Aviation Country Club..



 

This is a rare photo of the hangar of the Long Island Aviation Club taken from the Motor Parkway looking west. While researching the Motor Parkway at the archives of the Cradle of Aviation, I found a note that the hangar was taken down in the late 1940s by Levitt & Sons. The note added that the hangar's roof was used for a new building in Bethpage to manufacture pre-fabricated sections of the Levitt homes. Of course, I started searching all over Bethpage to see if this building was still standing.



 

The building was not difficult to find. The former hangar was later used to manufacture sails for sailboats around the world. Several articles on the club also mentioned that the clubhouse was taken down and reassembled as sections of several Hicksville homes. So far, I have found several homes that look like the wings of the clubhouse. But, I am still not 100% sure that they are the halls where Willie K, Grumman and Lindbergh mingled.



For more information and photos of the Long Island Aviation Country Club, follow this link:

-Paul Freeman's Abandoned and Little-Known Airfields of Central Long Island



Comments

Mar 25 2010 WALT HOUSE 12:47 PM

THE KANSAS AVIATION MUSEUM IN WICHITA IS RESTORING A 1929 STEARMAN C-3B THAT WAS FIRST OWNED BY J. ROY PROSSER, A WEALTHY N Y STOCK BROKER. HE DEALT PRIMARILY IN AVIATION STOCKS. HE HANGARED THE PLANE AT THE LONG ISLAND AVIATION COUNTRY CLUB IN HICKSVILLE WHERE I BELIEVE HE WAS A MEMBER 1929 - 1931. IN THE MID 20’S HE OWNED A WHITE RUNABOUT AUTO. HE WAS FIRST WIFE WAS BESSIE LEARN, A SILENT MOVIE STAR.

WE ARE LOOKING FOR MORE INFO ON J. ROY PROSSER AND A PHOTO OF HIM AND HIS STEARMAN. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS WHERE I MAY RESEARCH.

THANKS FOR ANY HELP THAT YOU MAY GIVE.

WALT HOUSE
CURATOR, KANSAS AVIATION MUSEUM
(316)461-6126
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Mar 27 2010 Howard Kroplick 1:36 PM

Hi Walt:

Thanks for the email.

I don’t have any photos of Mr. Prosser or his plane, I suggest contacting Joshua Stoff, Curator of hte Cradle of Aviation Museum at 516-572-4111.

As shown in the below link, J. Roy Prosser was an original member of the Long Island Aviation Country Club (see p234). A new Stearman C4A biplane is also shown on p77:
http://books.google.com/books?id=y4g9AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA234&lpg=PA234&dq;=“J.+Roy+Prosser”&source=bl&ots=v1yniLl4Jb&sig=jl_2bdLFr4Cfdket8O10YXXLfu8&hl=en&ei=dEGuS8b1KoaBlAfsztWQAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CA4Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=“J. Roy Prosser”&f=false
.

Good luck!


Howard

Dec 24 2014 Denny Hatch 9:01 AM

Check out my memories of flying out of the Aviation Country Club, Hicksville, Long Island in the 1940s.
http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/flying-metaphor-business-39350/1

May 29 2015 L Bell 11:22 AM

I believe the pic of the hangars from the LIMP may be looking west being that the hangars were located on the north side of the LIMP.  Note the slanted roof line at the rear of both bldgs.
___________________________________________________________________

From Howard Kroplick

Good catch!

Aug 12 2017 d prosser 7:58 PM

walt,

j roy prosser was my husband’s great uncle and was also a WWl flying ace.  we have a picture of him with Bess after arriving in Chicago, having flown from NYC.  not sure what info you are looking for.  is his plan on display at the museum?

prosser

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