BAP Stories

I dedicate this page to anyone who wants to share a story about Buffalo Airpark or my father, Tony Riccio. Just fill out the Story Submission Form below, click Send It, and I’ll add it to the page. Thank you in advance, and I look forward to reading everyone’s unique story!

I took lessons at Audubon Airport. Several friends and myself worked for Frank Favale in exchange for flying time. Frank expected lots of work for minimum hours! In September, 1956 I flew with my instructor to Buffalo Air Park. When your father climbed into the J-3 I remember him growling, “Oh, great. One of Frank’s drafty airplanes.” Now expecting the worst, I did my best to remember what I had been taught. My instructor was Bill Bennett, a wonderful guy. Upon landing, your father smiled and asked for my log book. Dated 9/28/56 “Pvt. Flight Test OK” signed by A.W. Riccio. The next day I took my grandmother sightseeing over Niagara Falls. Those were wonderful times. Looking forward to the photos in the scrapbook.

Stuart Leuthner

1957-scenic flight with Tony. 1966- obtained instrument and cfi ratings. Flew C 310 with Tony and single engine charters until I moved to NYC area and just retired from flying Dec 2021. Bill Conroy, Spike Goulding and Jim Tracy were my instructors. Tony was a good guy and unique.

Jack Ogiony

With all this snow it got me to thinking and remembering how the Airpark handled snow removal and the equipment used that I recall. Clearing a runway, taxiway, and apron is a lot of snow removal. Since the Airpark was private there was no help from any municipal source. 

For the major removal there was an FWD highway plow that must have been acquired at auction. This was a six cylinder gas fueled beast that for some reason had an unmuffled straight exhaust straight up from the hood. It worked until it blew a cylinder. As it had cylinder liners Bucky Bucholtz who owned a transmission shop did the repair work at the field. Another piece of equipment was an Austin-Wheeler road grader, again acquired from who knows where. This thing was vintage for sure. It had a hand crank for the engine if the electric starter wasn’t working. What kind of individual that would have the build to hand crank that is beyond me. Anyway, it was a dual fuel engine. It was started on gasoline and after it warmed up you would pull a handle shutting off the gas and transferring it to diesel. That transition was attention getting as it went from a smooth runner to a belching monster until it really got warmed up. There wasn’t a seat in the cab that was usable during operation because you had to stand while guiding it with an honest to God t-shaped tiller. There was no steering feedback so you had your hands on it all the time otherwise it would steer on it’s own unpredictably. (I operated it once, that was enough…)(I was a young teenager.)

For the smaller areas there was a war surplus open top Jeep with a homemade straight blade plow and a small International Harvester tractor, used for cutting grass in the summer with a flail mower, with a plow on the front. Needless to say there wasn’t any heat on any of this. And then there were shovels and man power. In 1968 the Jeep died and was replaced with a new1968 Ford Bronco with a plow.

Tony seemed to have a knack for that road grader as you’d see him out there with insulated coveralls looking like a hell bent whaling captain clearing the runway.

This was all from my viewpoint from the mid 60’s. I can only imagine what it must have been like keeping the Airpark open year round in the years past. It definitely was a different time and entirely a different kind of mindset.

Doug Payne

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