by Ezra Powers
Tucked away in the backstreets of Bayport on sixty acres lives Long Island's last remaining public grass airfield, a throwback to the golden age of aviation. Built in the years following World War Two on a cornfield owned by farmer Curtis Davis, the Bayport Aerodrome was once one of 120 private and commercial airfields across the island, and stands as a living testament to a bygone era.
Previously known as Davis Field-Edwards Airport, it housed a flight school and repair shop. When Edwards sold the property to a developer in the 1970’s, the Antique Airplane Club of Greater New York alongside Bayport community members successfully campaigned for the Town of Islip to buy back the land and preserve the airfield. The Bayport Aerodrome Society (BAS) was established in 1972 to stewart and safeguard this local treasure for future generations. Its members lease the twenty-three hangars on site from the Town, while the airstrip is open to the public.
As a way to show their thanks to the surrounding community that houses and supports them, the BAS recently hosted its annual Neighborhood Appreciation Picnic on Sunday September 25. The day was filled with music, laughter and awe as local residents armed with cheeseburgers, took in the 60 antique aircrafts housed in their hangars.
First time visitor Hunter Hackette, a second grader at Academy Elementary, marveled over the cloth wings of a 1940’s biplane “This thing really flies?” he asked Gazette Editor Kate Berube.
“It’s so cool!”
“The picnic is always a great day,” remarked long-time Bayport resident and BAS President Rich Wyeroski.
“The community has always been supportive of the Aerodrome, and we just want to give that support back.”
While the blustery weather prevented pilots from taking visitors into the skies, the planes were on full display for the six hundred eighty onlookers who came out to appreciate one of the town's best kept secrets.