Hangar Fire of 1943

Tony begins construction on his hangar in 1941.

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 and an unknown woman

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

Is this a Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp? Please leave a comment if you know.

Look at the airframes under the metal roofing!
I can clearly see a rudder frame.

This is heartbreaking!

The space is cleared and now used for storage.
I don’t know the history of this photo, and I hope it wasn’t a fatality. It looks to be a Waco biplane from the distinguishing cross-bracing of the windscreen. Maybe an OEC model? Please leave a comment if you know.

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.