Do you enjoy a crossword puzzle as much as I do? I know what you’re thinking. That’s an odd question from someone I barely know other than his writings on this website. You’re right, but now you know that I like solving crossword puzzles, and maybe you’ll enjoy what I have to share.
I find it easier to write facts down on a classic yellow legal pad while researching for a new article because it helps me retain and organize the paper’s overall structure. Plus, it helps hone my writing skills, which seem to be degrading as I age. Do you find it helpful to do the same, or do you prefer to keep notes on your tablet, PC, or phone? I guess it’s all the same as long as you’re happy with the results.
I have all of these facts written down, and I recently concluded that it wouldn’t be too challenging to create crossword puzzles. So, let us give it a try, and I’m proud to offer you my first puzzle!
I couldn’t think of a better aircraft than the Aristocrat 102E, my father’s first airplane. I love this plane and wish I could have had a ride with him!
I’ve touched briefly on his airplane, and here’s a quick refresher. The above photo shows my father, Tony, standing in front of his Aristocrat 102E airplane built by the General Airplanes Corporation in Buffalo, New York, about 1930. A five-cylinder Wright J6, the “Whirlwind Five,” radial engine supplies 165hp to the propeller.
I recommend reading an article published in the 1983 July issue of AOPA Pilot magazine under the Yesterdays Wings column, “The General Airplanes,” written by Peter M. Bowers. Click on the link here, or download the article below.
Below is an example of the actual crossword puzzle, but I don’t think you’ll be able to input the answers here. So instead, click the above link to complete the crossword puzzle online, and feel free to share!
Also, if you have time, please submit your feedback by clicking on the green button in the lower-left corner. Thanks again for visiting! Billy
As spring rapidly approaches with the first sighting of my feathered friend, the Eastern Robin, I find myself gleaming with anticipation of the warmer weather and shed myself of the long, cold, and dreary months of winters past. And what a better way to welcome the arrival of a beautiful summer season than planning to attend upcoming air shows! To reunite with old friends, see familiar faces, and experience the sights and sounds of those glorious aircraft!
I remember coming across a few pieces of air show memorabilia in my father’s aviation collection and thought they would be nice to share. It’s interesting to me how times have changed since the late 1940s, and as I read this literature from the past, I daydream of an exciting time for both spectators and participants that seems so distant. But in a strange twist, I find it relevant to the year 2022 and can relate to the excitement covering all things involving aviation!
Let us go back to the weekend of September 14 & 15, 1946. Harry S. Truman is our acting President, country musician Hank Williams signed a recording contract in Nashville, and American film actor Tommy Lee Jones was born on Sunday, September 15, 1946.
The Army Air Forces and Civil Air Patrol presents the Niagara Frontier Air Show at the Niagara Falls Airport, NY. This 23 paged brochure, although 11-14 are missing, speaks of the importance of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) written by Colonel Stuart C. Welch and outlines the exhibits and schedules of each event during the two-day air show. The relevance of the New York Wing of the CAP is historical, with its formation in December 1941 under Commander Beckwith Havens. Then, in March 1942, the highly publicized and successful creation of the Anti-Submarine Aerial Patrol, first based in Atlantic City, NJ, was a pivotal point in the wartime efforts.
Airplanes proudly display a familiar symbol of a white triangle in a blue circle. These CAP pilots flew their light aircraft without military status, over open sea patrolling the East Coast from Maine to the southern tip of Florida, then around the Golf Coast to New Orleans. Fitted with bombs and two-way communication, these CAP pilots successfully destroyed several enemy submarines while operating closely with nearby Naval vessels. But unfortunately, the CAP pilots who lost their lives or were seriously injured were uneligible for reimbursement or military recognition by the government.
After the Navy acquired complete control of all anti-submarine activities, the CAP continued with their Courier Service by transporting government personnel and materials between military bases and manufacturing plants. The Army authorities also requested that the CAP construct bases throughout the US for military training exercises towing aerial targets for Army Air Forces (AAF) to fire upon inflight and ground munitions.
Ok, call me crazy, but let’s reflect on that last sentence. I love adrenaline-producing, heart-stopping activities just like everyone else. Still, I draw the line at flying a light civilian aircraft towing a target for military personnel to shoot from an airplane or anti-aircraft gunners. I hope those pilots had a new pair of shorts when they landed! Are you with me?
Here’s a quick history fact that I just read in this brochure. The Buffalo CAP unit sponsored the first indoor helicopter flight by Bell Aircraft at Group Meeting 65th Armory.
Now, back to the air show. The exhibits include an AAF eighteen trailer caravan spotlighting the Norden Bombsight, captured enemy material including Hilter’s possessions seized at Berchtesgaden, and postwar equipment. Also, private aircraft displayed in a hanger, including a Globe Swift 125 that I’m sure my father was showing, but I don’t have any photos to prove it.
And the best for last, aerial displays of a P-80 “Shooting Star,” a B-29, a P-51 “Mustang,” a C-47, and lastly the A-26 “Invader.” Also, two demonstrations for “control-line” model aircraft by Buffalo Miniature Aircraft Engineers featuring a 113mph model by Robert Ackley and a jet-propelled model by Harold Diebold.
Harry Barrie, “Red” Williamson, and Edward Evers will demonstrate formation and acrobatic flight in light aircraft. Twenty minutes later, “Red” Skelton of Jamestown will perform “How Not To Fly An Airplane.” Finally, Bell Aircraft Corporation presents a helicopter demonstration “flying from zero to ninety miles per hour backward, sideways, up and down as well as straight away.”
Before the finishing ceremony and the ending of the first day of the show, the CAP Cadets demonstrate a parachute jump. “These boys and girls are members of the Parachute Squadron, Michigan Wing, CAP and are between the ages of 15 and 18.” My hats off to them!
I highly recommend downloading the full brochure to read the complete article on the CAP and enjoy the vintage advertising! Click the link below.
Do you have plans for Sunday, August 31, 1947? Good, neither do I, so meet me at the air show presented by the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce at the Hamburg Air Park in Hamburg, New York. I read over their flyer, and it looks like fun!
The featured attraction is Roland Maheu, Minot, Maine, Pathe & Paramount newsreels star. “The man that thrills his daring stunts. Walking on a plane wing at 100 miles per hour. His display of non-excelled aerobatic flying. Square Loops, starting from the ground. Snap Rolls. The whole book of tricks.”
“Plus, that Believe It or Not stunt featured in Ripley’s Column of climbing out on the landing gear to restart his engine, while the plane glides free in mid air.”
Click the link below to download this 4-page flyer and read the “Spot Landings” article starting on page two. It’s a fascinating piece and enjoyable to read about general aviation in that era. Unfortunately, I’m sorry to say that the answers to the “Plane Quiz” on page 4 are missing, so do your best, and I’ll leave it up to you to self-check your answers. Good luck!
And lastly, in the collection, a couple of newspaper clippings about the first annual air show at Buffalo Air-Park was on Sunday, July 11, 1948. It looks as though my father, Tony, gained inspiration from the other previous airshows.
Tony convinced the West Seneca Chamber of Commerce to sponsor the event. With approximately 5000 to 8000 spectators, the air show is a great success and scheduled for the following year by Authur Lewis, Chamber president.
The show started promptly with formation flying led by my father Tony and two other BAP employees, Niel Smith, sales manager, and Clarence Sheldon, assistant chief pilot.
The feature event is an eight-person mass parachute jump coordinated by Bobby Ward of Philadelphia PA and his Sky Devils. “After circling the field several times, the Sky Devils jumped from the two-engine ship, one motor of which had been shut off, from an altitude of approximately 1000 feet.”
Bell Aircraft Corporation gave a hovering and spot landing demonstration with Floyd Carlson, chief test pilot of the Helicopter Division, at the controls. Delbert Reed of Buffalo, NY, presented a glider demonstration and Pete Wilkins of Cornell NY put on an “airobatics” show.
Former Curtiss-Wright chief test pilot Lloyd Child gives a Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) cross-wind landing gear demonstration. In addition, Cook Cleland, Thompson trophy winner at the 1947 Cleveland Air Show, made a personal appearance.
Tony needed an excellent closing act for the air show than just formation flying, so he teamed up with Wallis McGinnis of Hatboro PA, one of Bobby Ward’s Sky Devils. The two men attempted to start the silent motor on an airplane, piloted by Tony. McGinnis stood on the strut at an altitude of 800 feet but pretended to slip and fall with a delayed parachute jump finishing out the act. Sound familiar, at least hand propping a silent motor? Roland Maheu must have left a lasting impression on Tony from the 1946 Niagara Frontier Air Show.
Mike Steffen was Tony’s flight instructor when he learned to fly at Burgard Vocational High School in the early 1930s while attending night classes. The two developed a pretty unique relationship and remained good friends throughout my father’s aviation career.
Tony graduated on February 26, 1935, after enrolling in Burgard’s three-year evening vocational aviation course. He continued his employment at Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company in Buffalo as a mechanic until purchasing his Gardenville Airport property in 1938.
I am not too familiar with the history of Burgard, other than what my father acquired in his collection. However, that recently changed when I received my monthly WNY Aeromail newsletter, #55, from Ron Ciura, the reporter. In that newsletter, Ron shares some history of the Elm/Burgard Flying Club provided by Paul Faltyn, a Burgard Grad and Curator of the Niagara Air Museum. Click the link button below to read a document outlining the Flying Club with its inception in 1927.
May 30, 1933, is Tony’s first logbook entry flying dual instruction with Mike Steffen in Burgards Eaglerock biplane, NC-6323, powered by a Kinner K5 engine. Tony flew for 45 minutes on his first flight, and I can only imagine his excitement!
On September 7, 1933, Tony piloted his first 5-minute solo flight and finished his training for an additional 25 minutes of dual time with Mike Steffen on that day, continuing to build hours in Burgards Eaglerock. Tony continues to acquire solo time, and on October 13, 1933, he flys a full solo flight.
Tony received his Amateur Pilots License on October 14, 1934, with just over 55 hours logged of total flight time. He focuses on the required classroom study to complete the Burgards aviation course, although he dreams of getting back in the air after graduation. As I mentioned earlier, his hard work and determination pay off, and Tony graduates on February 26, 1935.
He continues his flight training with Mike Steffen, starting on April 20, 1935, adding additional hours in his logbook flying solo in the Eaglerock. Tony received his Private Pilots License on July 8, 1935, and flys his first passenger from Buffalo to Niagara Falls three days later, on July 11, in the Eaglerock. His logbook doesn’t state who his first passenger is, but I’m guessing it was either his mother, father or brother Victor.
Tony’s first night flight is on October 13, 1935, in the Eaglerock, departing the Buffalo Airport at 5:30 pm and returning at 6:50 pm, bringing his total logged hours over 76 hours since he started flying. His first logbook of the nine that I have covered from May 30, 1933, to June 27, 1938, with a total flight time of 228 hours and 30 minutes. Only 14 hours and 50 minutes were dual time!
I discovered an article that my father saved featuring Mike Steffen printed in the Buffalo Courier-Express, dated February 12, 1967. It’s terrific writing to a fascinating person, and I highly recommend downloading a copy for yourself!
Tony had heard that Republic was hiring for test pilots to fly their newly developed P-47 in the summer of 1942, and he knew that he couldn’t let this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass by. Two years have gone by since he first opened his Gardenville airport, and he felt this could be financially beneficial to expand his business. Could the airport survive without him, Tony thought to himself. It must, he later concluded, and began to make arrangements so the airport would remain operational while he was away.
Tony found out that he needed to complete a flight check before submitting an employment application to Republic. On December 9, 1942, he met the requirements through a test flight in a North American AT-6 trainer at the Romulus Army Air Field in Detroit, Michigan. Tony flew for 1 hour and 45 minutes with an instructor, and upon landing, he receives his certificate to fly a P-47!
Tony’s last flight at his Gardenville Airport is on February 7, 1943, in a Taylorcraft model D airplane with a 65 hp Franklin engine. He finished a long dual-time lesson with one of his students for a total of 3 hours and 30 minutes under the Civilian Pilot Training program.
Tony’s first test flight for Republic is on February 23, 1943, in a P-47-C warplane with a 2000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-21 “Double Wasp” twin-row 18 cylinder radial engine. The plane’s registration number is 16650, and he flew for 55 minutes from Republic’s base in Farmingdale, Long Island, New York.
On March 1, 1943, Tony test piloted his first P-47-D, ship number 16864, for 55 minutes.
Let’s stop for a minute and think about how Tony must have felt on this day. At the beginning of February, he last flew a Taylorcraft airplane and is now test piloting a P-47 warbird, all 8 tons of her glory, pushing it to its structural limits with speeds above 400 mph at 30,000 ft. I consider this a life-changing event, almost an enlightenment of one’s self-being, that I know Tony cherished throughout his life and was very proud to share his experiences. I remember him telling me stories of flying the P-47, and I was the most popular kid during “show and tell” at grade school when he let me bring photos of him in his flight gear and the P-47. He even let me bring in his leather flight helmet and goggles one day, but I’m sure he was concerned about its safety because that opportunity never came up again.
I found a fascinating entry in Tony’s logbooks while researching his flight time in the P-47. On April 6, 1943, he only flew two P-47’s that day, but the second one, he recorded ship number 28079 as “Racer #4.” I was intrigued by this. With a little research, I believe this to be a War Bond Plane used as a promotional airplane for Republic to generate civilian revenue to offset production costs and salaries. It seems to be a popular option used by other manufactures during the war, and I knew nothing of it.
From the hundreds of pictures that I have of my father, Tony, I decided to assemble a short timeline to better illustrate his life but not bore you with an extensive family photo album. I have chosen the most relevant ones starting with him as a young man until his passing in 1976. I’ve divided the photos into seven pages, with about ten on each page.
I hope you find this interesting as much as I do and can’t help but think about the thousands of hours of flight time he accumulated throughout his lifetime.
Goodyear built the first “Ranger I” blimp, NC-10A, in 1940 as an upgrade to the previous advertising blimps, but it soon became a part of a fleet of airships for the U.S. Navy’s L-Class airship division, used during World War II. The Ranger measures 150 feet in length, is 51 feet high while resting on its landing wheel, and holds 123,000 cubic feet of helium. Two 145 hp Warner Scarab engines mounted on outriggers, one on each side of the 22-foot long car, provide a top speed of 62 mph. The blimp has a 600-mile range at a cruising speed of 50 mph. A preferred altitude is between two and three thousand feet, but blimps have a service ceiling limit of 10,000 ft.
The Ranger I’s first test flight was on August 13, 1940, and the U.S. Navy received delivery on February 1, 1941, reclassified as the U.S. Navy L-2. Unfortunately, this blimp is destroyed in a mid-air collision in 1942.
As U.S. Navy blimp L-2, the ship collided with Navy blimp G-1 (formerly Defender) on June 8, 1942 during night operations near Manasquan Inlet, New Jersey. Both blimps were destroyed.
During World War II, Goodyear ceased the operations of all advertising blimps.
Goodyear built two other versions of the Ranger series blimps, the Ranger II (NC-1A) and the Ranger III (N1A). After World War II, the first flight of the declassified U.S. Navy L-18, now know as the Ranger II (NC-1A) is on May 28, 1946.
Click the “Download” button to access this booklet and please feel free to save a copy for yourself, print, or share!
In this series, you will find pictures of the hangars and maintenance shop at Buffalo Airpark in chronological order, separated by individual pages per hangar. Again, if you have anything to share or would like to comment on, please do so. Enjoy!
The horse stable is one of the first buildings that my father, Tony, built after purchasing the property in 1939. He salvaged what he could from the small barn next to the farmhouse and constructed a much bigger stable further East of his Gardenville Airport Operations building. It was his first maintenance shop with room to store a few airplanes. His shop was on the South end, and the horse stall was on the North end with room in the middle for storage.
I dedicate this page to my sister Carol Payne Zagon for if it weren’t for her extraordinary photographic skills, this story wouldn’t exist.
Sometime between Friday night, January 28, and early Saturday morning, January 29, 1977, we suffered a devastating hangar collapse. The roof of the West building of our twin “North” hangars gave way to the snow’s tremendous weight due to the historical Blizzard of ’77. The valley between the two buildings quickly became impacted by the deep powdery snow transported from the frozen surface of Lake Erie by the daily peak wind gusts ranging from 46 to 69 mph.
The weight was too much for the large pine roof trusses, and the aircraft’s destruction below was inevitable. It breaks my heart to this day to see such devastation because these airplanes were not just machines for transportation. They became a part of each pilots’ life, a close family member, and a strange bond that develops, unexplainable except to another pilot.
My brother Doug Payne remembers that tragedy all too well, telling me, “I was at the airport on Friday, the day before, and received a phone call the next day on Saturday morning that the hangar collapsed. It was heartbreaking to see all the destruction.”
This view is from inside the partially damaged Eastside hangar looking towards the valley seam. We were able to save this side of the hangar.
I remember Doug showing me the hangar a few days later because of a travel ban and waiting for plow drivers to clear the enormous snowdrifts that once covered the streets. He wasn’t living with us then and was able to get to the airpark on Saturday. What upset me the most was the sight of just a tail sticking out of a snowbank where there should have been an entire airplane.
This view is from inside the collapsed Westside hangar that my sister, Carol Payne Zagon, bravely entered to capture the “perfect shot.”
Notice how the roof trusses split under the extreme weight of the snow!
And not only were the airplanes a casualty of this hangar collapse, but two local antique fire trucks that were stored were also victims.
To help you understand the twin hangars’ size, here are a few photos of when it was under construction in the late 1940s.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up with your email address to be notified when I post a new article by clicking the Follow button below. You won’t be disappointed!
To say that a hangar fire in February 1943 was devastating to my father Tony is an understatement. His business, the Gardenville Aeronautical Corp., suffered a total loss of revenue. He was fortunate enough to be employed by the Republic Aviation Corporation as a test pilot for their P47 simultaneously, which gave him the time to strategize for the airport’s future.
Tony recalls that in the early heyday of government flight programs, he missed the boat when a fire “virtually wiped me out” in February 1943. Tony had qualified for a CPT Instructor school in 1942 and graduated his first 12 students when the fire destroyed hanger, airplanes, shop, classroom and records.
Tony kept the air-park open “as a landing strip” during the lush training years and stayed with Republic as a test pilot while he planned the fate of his airport. He returned to Gardenville in 1943 and “from scratch” started to build.
NYS Aviation Bureau Flyer, Volume 1, Number 4, October 1952
Tony returned to his airport in the fall of 1943 and finished constructing a new Quonset hangar by August 1944.
I’ve posted a copy of the fire insurance quote on page 2 if you’re interested in reading it.
I’m not going to lie. There are many pictures in this series, 68 total, and please give yourself some time to go through these. Most are aerial shots of the airpark throughout the years, but some are from different Western New York areas. I have broken it up into seven subpages to make it easier to navigate.
I’ve organized the subpages in chronological order to the best of my ability, and please contact me if you see something out of place or have something to share. I’ve also numbered all of the photos after their descriptions for easy referencing.
I hope you enjoy viewing these pictures as much as I did, and together we are discovering Gardenville Airport/Buffalo Airpark’s history.