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’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.
Tony had many scrapbooks, but his favorite is the one he started around 1930 using his father’s hardcover book “The Home” that he glued newspaper and magazine articles into that he found meaningful about aviation. Little did he know, or maybe he did, that he was preserving aviation history so the stories would always be shared and never forgotten! Before my father covered these pages with articles, this book outlined many home plans that you could browse with full descriptions and basic floor plans detailing the layouts. Towards the back, there is an order form to purchase complete plans and specifications for any of the model homes illustrated in this book. The price range is between $5 and $40 and includes an estimate of cost and materials list. I understand that my father’s parents didn’t have a lot of money during his childhood. They immigrated to Jamestown, New York, from Italy in the spring of 1920 when he was eight years old. He learned to utilize anything available by re purposing or upcycling, and this scrapbook is just one example he used throughout his life. He did this with aircraft hangers too, but I’ll save those stories for another time. The back cover is missing with some pages torn and discolored, but it’s in reasonably good condition for being around ninety years old!
I’ve been going through my father’s scrapbook and found a loose page that he saved from one of his “The AOPA Pilot” magazines. At first, I thought he kept it for the advertising for the new Narco Mark VI 190 channel crystal controlled VOR/LOC. I didn’t find a date, but it is page 105 and 106 from that unknown issue. When flipping this page over, I realized it was an article about Vincent Burnelli and his revolutionary CB-16 multiengine plane. Granted, it is only part of the article, but there is enough information about his CB-16 that I find him extraordinarily fascinating and yearning for more! I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did while researching and writing about this revolutionary aeronautical engineer, Vincent J. Burnelli.
Vincent Burnelli designed and built his first successful airplane, the Burnelli-Carisi Biplane, with his friend John Carisi at Maspeth, a borough of Queens in New York, in 1915 under the Burnelli Aircraft Company. The above photo shows the open cockpit “pusher” biplane at Hempstead Plains Aviation Field located east-southeast of Mineola, Long Island, New York. This field was renamed Roosevelt Field in 1919 in honor of President Roosevelt’s son, Quentin, who died during air combat in World War I. It didn’t take long for the two men to make money with their new biplane, and it was a great way to fund future projects. “We used it for barnstorming,” Mr. Burnelli explained. “You could make $500 to $1,000 in those days working a fair, and that was big money.” Vincent designed a night fighter a few years later with hopes of using it as a combat plane in World War I, but things didn’t work out, and he eventually sold the airplane to the New York Police Department for their aerial operation.
At the end of World War I, Alfred Lawson, founder of the Lawson Aircraft Company, hired Vincent Burnelli as an aeronautical engineer and six engineering specialists to work on a new project idea of a sizable commercial aircraft to transport passengers regularly between major cities. Work began in March 1919, and within five months, the team built the first multi-engine passenger aircraft ever produced in the United States, the Lawson C-2 biplane “House on Wings.” This large aircraft features a 91-foot wingspan, is 48 feet long with a gross weight of 12,000 pounds. Powered by two 400-hp 12-cylinder Liberty engines mounted between the wings on each side of the fuselage developed a cruising speed of 110 mph with a range of more than 400 miles. Landing on two tandem wheeled landing gears mounted to the bottom wing inline with lower engine bracing gave maximum support, and a large tail skid supported the rear. Laminated wood bulkheads replaced the traditional interior wire and bracing commonly used on large bombers to allow passengers to walk freely through the streetcar style fuselage. Seating accommodates 18 passengers with eight additional folding seats when needed. For the first time, an enclosed cockpit design keeps the flight crew warm and dry by adding a roof and a Flexiglass front panel with a small sliding window on the co-pilot’s side. All previous airplanes in this era use the conventional open cockpit design. “Lawson Air Line” adorned each side of the fuselage in large letters.
On August 27, 1919, Alfred Lawson, “Captain in Command” along with his flight crew Charles Cox “Steersman,” Vincent Burnelli, Carl Schory “Engine Mechanic,” and Andrew Surini “Mechanic” departed the New Butler flying field in Wisconson headed to Ashburn Field in Chicago. Initially, the flight crew thought they were on a second test flight, but Lawson had other plans. Shortly after takeoff, Lawson ordered Cox to follow the shoreline of Lake Michigan south towards Chicago. “For one thing,” Burnelli later recalled, “we had planned on having several test flights; you just don’t build a plane from scratch in six months without encountering a bug here and there. For another, none of us had brought even so much as a toothbrush. Actually, however, we were all too excited and enthused to really care much where we went, although I doubt if I could say the same for our creditors in Milwaukee.” And so it begins, Alfred Lawson’s planned demonstration tour of the first airliner covering two thousand miles in over two months and ending on November 15, returning to the New Butler flying field. Shortly after this flight, Mr. Burnelli left Lawson Aircraft Company to pursue other avenues in his ever-challenging quest of designing and building the perfect aircraft.
1919 was a pivotal year for Mr. Burnelli when he changed his design approach from the conventional fuselage to his new airfoil-shaped fuselage stemming from his disappointment after his involvement and flight experiences with the Lawson C-2 biplane. The plane looked to him as a streetcar with wings. “The air is the roadbed of an airplane,” he said, “and I decided I’d leave streetcars on the ground from then on.” Being extremely fascinated with the flying wing and its efficiency, Mr. Burnelli started working on various transport designs of his “lifting body” wing type fuselages with twin tails or a tail-mounted on booms at the rear of the aircraft. He felt that these new fuselages could contribute about 40 percent of the lifting surface during flight and would be much safer in a stall or engine failure event. Not too mention the reduced structural loads on the wings, especially where the engines are mounted, and reduce the mortality rate in a crash due to the more robust flat rectangular shape of his fuselage. Mr. Burnelli’s design also places the engines well in front of the passenger compartment to help absorb the shock of a crash and locates the propellers away from the passengers. Another advantage is the flight crew’s partial access to the engines during the flight from inside the cabin.
In 1920, Mr. Burnelli moved from Lincoln, Nebraska, back to Long Island, New York, after a brief career opportunity at the Nebraska Aircraft Company when he left Lawson. Again, he struggles with other people’s concepts and designs and decides it’s time to start working on building his perfect aircraft. Once settled back in New York, he partnered with T.T. Remington to initially form the Airliner Engineering Corporation, but later merged as the Remington-Burnelli Aircraft Corporation in the same year. There he could focus on building a large transport aircraft using his new lifting fuselage design. With little time to waste, he finishes the RB-1 biplane in 1921 with a successful maiden flight at Curtiss Field in Garden City, Long Island, New York, in June that same year. The slab-sided airfoil-shaped fuselage of the RB-1 has a cabin width of 14 feet and can carry a maximum of 32 passengers. A luxurious, spacious lounge divides the middle section. Comfortable chairs are positioned beside the windows on each side of the cabin for a breathtaking view. There are two entrance doors on each side of the fuselage with access towards the rear just behind the wings. A vestibule separates the passenger compartment from the baggage and express compartment located in the fuselage tail section for easy access. Twin 550 horsepower Galloway Atlantic engines mounted in the nose powered this large airplane with partial interior access panels for in-flight service if needed. Two open-air cockpits sit on top of the fuselage and provide a 360-degree field of view for the pilot and co-pilot. Throughout the remainder of the year and into 1922, Mr. Burnelli promoted his RB-1 through promotional advertising and scenic rides. The “Flying Festival” at the Curtis Field, where he stored the aircraft, was a popular event with a high turnout.
An upgraded RB-1, the RB-2 Freighter was built in 1923 with improved control surfaces, twin 650 horsepower Galloway Atlantic engines provided more power, and corrugated metal construction replaces the fabric skin. It was the most significant transport aircraft ever built with an unladen weight of 5 tons and a gross vehicle weight of just under 9 tons! The passenger cabin could accommodate 25 people with standing headroom or converted to transport 6000 pounds of cargo with a flight crew of 3, the pilot, co-pilot, and mechanic.
With no potential sales and difficulty in marketing, his business partner T.T. Remington departed the company in 1924. During the same year, Mr. Burnelli partners with Thomas Garvin to form the Garvin-Burnelli Aircraft Corporation. The new partnership focuses on promoting the RB-2 rather than building a new aircraft. In 1925 the RB-2 carried a Hudson Essex automobile built inside the cabin on an aerial sales tour flown at Mitchel Field, Long Island, New York. The passenger cabin also featured a fully equipped office and could carry eight passengers. Even with so much exposure, the RB-2 was slow, and Mr. Burnelli couldn’t generate interest for future investors or the financing that he desperately needed to finance production.
A few years have passed with no new interest in the RB-2, Mr. Burnelli is hired by banker and Skylines Incorporated president Paul B. Chapman in 1928 to build the CB-16 under contract on a progress payment basis for a total of $230,000 including design, engineering, and shop costs. He received the purchase order in May 1928, rented space and tools at the Aeromarine plant in Keyport, New Jersey, and completed the aircraft in December. The CB-16 was Mr. Burnelli’s first monoplane, single-wing, executive transporter with all-metal construction and retractable landing gear to reduce drag. It was accessible during flight for minor service or emergency release. The open cockpit design remains from the RB-2, but the CB-16 is the first multiengine aircraft capable of single-engine level flight in the event of an engine failure. A new twin-boom tail design is incorporated to correct stability issues encountered by the RB-2.
The CB-16 has a wingspan of 90 feet, a length of 56 feet, is 12 feet 6 inches in height, and has an empty weight of 11,400 pounds. The gross weight is 17,400 pounds, and two 625 horsepower Curtiss Conqueror engines supply the power with a cursing speed of 140 mph. The climb rate is 800 fpm, 300 fpm with a single-engine, and a ceiling of 20,000 feet. The cruising range is 12 hours, with a landing speed of 62 mph. For night flying, an ample center searchlight illuminates the pilot’s surroundings. With a spacious cabin measuring 12 feet by 18 feet, there is plenty of space for a large central lounge, ten swivel chairs, and soundproof luxurious tapestry and upholstery to finish the decor. An advanced air pressurization system maintains cabin ventilation and heating control while the unique washroom facility features running water. The stainless steel kitchenette has a hot plate and refrigerator with a radio in the center compartment.
A barge moves the unassembled pieces of the CB-16 to Newark Airport, which was still in construction at the time, to an available two-way cinder runway. The CB-16 is the first new design to be tested at the newly constructed airport, which officially opened on October 1, 1928, as the first major airport in the metropolitan area. With the assembly completed in December, a scheduled test flight occurs on a cold morning during Christmas week. Lieutenant Leigh Wade of Army ’round the world flight fame was at the controls with Jimmy Doolittle from Mitchel Field as a test collaborator. On that morning, Mr. Doolittle offered a parachute to Lt Wade. Still, he did not use it and instead brought along an assistant to operate the emergency release lever for the landing gear if they ran into trouble. Lt Wade landed after a successful 40-minute test flight and was eager to start performance tests the following day. Mr. Chapman chartered a bus on Christmas Eve to bring his friends to see his unique airplane, and Lt Wade offered to take anyone interested in a ride around the Statue of Liberty. When the aircraft landed, a line started to form for additional flights, and Lt Wade kept flying until dusk for four scenic flights carrying over a total of 50 passengers on this extraordinary holiday. In 1929, the CB-16 crashed during a test flight resulting from a maintenance error where the aileron cables malfunctioned. Thankfully, the pilot, Lt George Pond, and his co-pilot survived the crash, and it is a testament of how safe Burnelli’s fuselage designs are.
Mr. Burnelli designed and built many more unique airplanes, the UB-20, the GX-3, and the CBY-3, to name just a few. He continued to promote his airfoil-shaped fuselage designs throughout his life but could never sell his ideas for mass production. He is a true pioneer in aviation history, and some people consider him a revolutionary genius. I hope you enjoyed my post on the CB-16, and I encourage you to research the life of Vincent Burnelli and his innovative lifting designed fuselages. You won’t be disappointed, and maybe I’ll find a few more clippings in my father’s scrapbook on him to share with you.
Cessna introduced the Cutlass and Cutlass RG models in 1980 and ceased production in 1985. Both models are built on the popular and proven 172 Skyhawk airframe with the addition of the upgraded Lycoming O-360 engine, a variable pitch constant speed propeller, and the optional retractable landing gear on the RG models.
The Cutlass featured a Lycoming O-360-A4N 180hp engine with a cruise speed of 122 knots. The useful load increased by about 100 pounds over the 172 Skyhawk.
The Cutlass RG model has a Lycoming O-360-F1A6 with the same 180 hp but allows for clearance with the front wheel retracted. The RG uses the same electro-hydraulic landing gear in the Skylane RG, and the cruise speed increased to 140 knots. Combine this with larger fuel tanks than the 172, and you have a better cross-country airplane! The RG is an excellent platform for pilots working on their commercial certificate or complex endorsement.
Cessna introduced the 177 Cardinal in 1968 and, production only lasted for ten years. They were seeking a replacement for the popular 172 and thought this would be an excellent time to introduce a new model. The popularity of the 172 was too much for the Cardinal combined with poor performance and handling problems.
The primary issue first reported in 1968 is pilot induced oscillations or “porpoising.” These are a series of pilot corrections to airplane reactions that result in sustained or uncontrollable swings. Cessna addressed the problems and offered a no-cost warranty to existing owners to fix these problems.
Cessna’s goal for the Cardinal is to allow the pilot an unobstructed view when turning but resulted in a too far forward CG since the pilot is seated ahead of the leading edge. The first model year featured a lighter engine, the Lycoming O-320, which was vastly underpowered but did address the forward CG issue. The Lycoming O-360 engine replaced the O-320 in 1969 but retained the fixed-pitch propeller, which helped reduced production costs.
The Cardinal uses a cantilever wing design, which eliminates the lift struts for better visibility. A stabilator replaces the standard horizontal stabilizer to resolve issues of elevator control at low airspeeds. The raked windshield and aft-mounted wing allow for better upward visibility combined with the cantilever wing make this airplane a photographer’s dream!
Cessna began production of the Cardinal RG in 1971 and featured an electrically powered hydraulic retractable landing gear. The horsepower increased from 180 to 200 with a new Lycoming IO-360 engine because of the added weight of the landing gear system.
Compare the differences of this 1973 Cessna Cardinal RG to the above photo of the 1968 Cessna 172 “Skyhawk.” Notice the different wing designs, windshields, and landing gears. I’ve only found one picture of a Cessna Cardinal RG so far, and I’ll add any new photos to this post if I see others.
Where to start with the Cessna Skywagon? I’ve learned quite a lot about Cessna, and the many different names or model numbers that refer to the same aircraft when scanning these promotional photos. It’s no surprise with the Skywagon, and hopefully, I can explain what I’ve learned so far.
Cessna started branding the “Skywagon” name on their 180 airframes in the early 1960s, even though the 180 models began production in 1953. The 180 is a taildragger with steerable tailwheel and steel spring main gear legs. The models produced before 1963 have two side windows and three starting in 1964 when Cessna upgraded the airframe to the same one used on the 185s but retained the lower horse-powered carbureted Continental O-470-R engine. This engine is rated to have 230hp at 2600 rpm while the IO-470-F used on the 185s has 260hp and is fuel injected.
The earlier 180, 1953-1963, is a four-person aircraft with the optional “Family Seating” for six people at an additional cost. I can only assume the seating was tight with this option, and I wouldn’t want to be sitting in the back for any length of time. The later 180, 1964-1981, is certified as a six-place utility airplane with the ability to install the optional floats or skis.
The production run of the 185 Skywagon is from 1961 to 1985. The 185 Skywagon gained many improvements over the later 180 when Cessna upgraded the powerplant to the Continental IO-520-D engine, but not until the middle of the 1966 production year. The previous 185s were still using the IO-470-F engines. Floats and skis were still an option along with a cargo pack that attached to the bottom of the fuselage.
The “AGcarryall” is a variant of the 185 and has a 151-gallon belly tank with removable spray booms for aerial spraying. The high wing design made it difficult to see when turning for crop dusting, and the production run was short. The “Agwagon” was well established and better suited for aerial chemical applications.
Be sure to check out the many photos of the Cessna Skywagon that I recently added to the photos page!
The Skyhook was the only helicopter ever produced by Cessna, and it has a fascinating history from what I discovered. Now get yourself a cup of coffee, or a cold beer, and enjoy this little story!
After the purchase of the Seibel Helicopter company in 1952, Cessna began the initial design of the CH-1 Skyhook prototype lead by Charles M. Seibel at their Pawnee production plant. This prototype design combines features of the Seibel S-4B helicopter, but with a Cessna airplane body. The CH-1-1, test model, made its first hover in 1953 and its initial flight in 1954.
In 1955 the CH-1 received its certification as a two-person aircraft. The nose-mounted piston-powered Continental engine is a unique feature of the Cessna Skyhook helicopter, making serviceability easier, but required a belt-driven cooling fan and supercharger. The spacious cabin allowed for 360-degree visibility and later modified to a four-person aircraft in the upgraded CH-1A model. This upgrade also included a revised stabilization system.
In September 1955, test pilot Jack Zimmerman became the first person to land a helicopter, the CH-1A, on the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado at an altitude of 14,110 feet ASL. This demonstration showcased the Skyhook’s high altitude capabilities and set a world record at that time!
The new CH-1B had an upgraded powerplant, a gear-driven supercharger, and an improved stabilizer. In May 1956, the US Army contracted ten CH-1Bs under the designated YH-41 Senecas. Captain James E. Bowman of the US Army flew a specially equipped CH-1B to an altitude of 30,355 feet in December 1957 and set a new world record previously set by a turbine-powered helicopter. This record still holds today for the highest elevation achieved in a piston-powered helicopter!
Even with its high altitude performance, the US Army wasn’t interested in placing new contracts due to service maintainability and stability issues. Cessna also repurchased some of the original ten YH-41s from the original contract as good faith in hopes of future contracts after resolving the present matters. Unfortunately, no new Military agreements materialized, and Cessna decided to pursue other markets.
The CH-1C Skyhook received its FAA certification in 1959 and was Cessna’s introduction into the commercial helicopter market in 1960 after the failure of the previous models designated for military use in the 1950s. Before the official release of the CH-1C, there was a tragic accident in the spring of 1961. A Skyhook crashed during a marketing demonstration in Texas, killing the pilot. Reports came out about equipment failure as the cause of the crash, not pilot error, which turned into a marketing nightmare. Cessna decided to continue as scheduled, and deliveries began in the fall of 1961. The retail price was just under $80,000, but sales were slow.
Cessna pushed on with the Skyhook even with weak sales, and in 1962 announced an improved model, the CH-1D. Again, another new powerplant and drivetrain, optional floats, cargo sling, rescue hoist, and five-place cabin.
Now here’s the surprise ending that no one saw coming! Just two months after marketing the CH-1D, Cessna decided to suspend production of the Skyhook on December 26, 1962.
In January 1963, chairman of the board, Dwane Wallace, announced that Cessna was repurchasing all existing CH-1Cs in the field. All are dismantled and scrapped along with any unsold inventory.
And that my friend is the beginning and end of the story of the only helicopter that Cessna ever produced.
As we all know, or at least I just discovered, the Cessna 172 is the most successful airplane in history. There are many different variations with different model names like the Skyhawk, the Skyhawk II, and the “high performance” Hawk XP II, to name a few. Even the U.S. Air Force used a variant of the Cessna 172 called the T-41A for student training starting in 1964.
I remember refueling a lot of 172s when I worked the line at the airpark and was happy when a 152 taxied up to the pumps. Not that I didn’t like the 172s, but pushing them back to a tie-down or spinning them around after refueling wasn’t an easy task. They were pretty heavy with low fuel, and topping them off made it that much harder to push. Plus, I think the apron around the fuel pumps had a slight grade to it making it a little more challenging. The good thing is that I learned the proper way to use a T-Bar, and I had no trouble using the leg press machine at my high school gym!
I decided to list the Cessna Skyhawk photos on a separate page, even though these airplanes have the same airframe, but with minor variations. The different models that I have pictures of are the Cessna Skyhawk, the Skyhawk II, the Skyhawk II/100, and the Hawk XP II. I grouped them by model name and arranged them by their numerical year.
The Cessna 150 is a successor to the famous tail dragger Cessna 140, which ended production in 1951. This new Cessna 150 started production in 1958 and was later replaced by the Cessna 152 in the summer of 1977. The landing gear changed from a tail dragger to a new tricycle design, and the new Fowler flaps replaced the older narrow hinged wing flaps found on the 140s. The Fowler flap is a split flap that slides rearwards before hinging down, increasing its efficiency.
The American made 150s are all powered by the Continental O-200-A 100hp four-cylinder air-cooled direct-drive engine. Over 3000 Cessna 150s came off of the assembly line in 1966, and it was the first year of a swept tail. The previous years had a straight tail.
Cessna introduced the Aerobat, model 150K, in 1970 with a list price of $12,000 with just over 700 built in the US through the spring of 1977. This limited aerobatic aircraft features additional structural strength to handle higher G force, four-point harnesses, dual overhead skylights for increased visibility, and removable seat cushions for wearing parachutes. It also has a more sporty checkerboard paint scheme. Surprisingly, it retained the original Continental O-200-A engine without any modifications to increase power or performance.