During the second world war, Mitchel Field in Uniondale was considered a major aviation hub and the focal point of air defense for the East Coast and it has been listed to the National Register of Historic Places as one of the most significant aviation hubs of the first half of the twentieth century.
It is official that this designation, which refers to the site as Mitchel Air Base and Flight Line, will enable Nassau County and Cradle of Aviation Museum, which is located on the site of the historic airfield, to apply for tax credits and state grants for the preservation and restoration of Mitchel Field’s 110 existing buildings, officials said at a news conference Monday.
The history of Nassau County over the past century has had a profound effect on history throughout the world, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.
A representative of the Cradle of Aviation, Gary Monti, Director of the Museum’s Operations, explained that the museum began seeking the designation four years ago. A number of the museum’s existing Mitchel Field structures have been reused, and it plans to fund others.
A commission of the California state legislature has approved the designation of the airbase as a historic site on March 21, and in May, the National Park Service listed the airbase as a historic site. During the first World War, aviators trained at a field located in Uniondale named after the second-youngest mayor of New York City, John Purroy Mitchel, who lost his life during the war.
In 1938, the B-18 bombers made their first nonstop transcontinental flight from Mitchell Field in Uniondale. Mitchel Field is the site of numerous memorable aviation milestones, including the setting of world speed records. A campaign pledge by Dwight D. Eisenhower to visit South Korea led him to take off from Mitchel Field in 1952.
The site became a crucial East Coast staging hub during World War II when it was home to the First Air Force, the Northeast District, and the Air Reserve.
As Wayne Horsley, regional director of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation on Long Island explains, “Mitchel Field provided the final view… for those men departing for Europe.” “And consider those boys returning home. This was the first thing they saw upon their return to the United States following a long, bloody battle.”
Representative Peter King stated, “Long Island played a critical role in the victory of World War II… And Mitchel Field is truly the origin of it all.”
The densely populated region, however, was unsuitable for operating an Air Force installation because of noise and limited space.
The P-47 Thunderbolt that crashed into Barnard Hall at Hofstra University in 1943 led to the closure of Mitchel Field in 1949, which now serves to protect New York’s airspace. Nassau acquired the property for future development in 1961 after the facility ceased flight operations.
In addition to Nassau Coliseum and Mitchel Athletic Complex, Hofstra University and Nassau Community College formerly were part of Mitchell Field. Of the original 1,170 acres of Mitchel Field, approximately 108 acres remain. These include three hangars, a firehouse, two buildings that were previously used for aircraft assembly and machine shops, as well as military housing, and a commissary. This place was left in Nassau County despite all the suburbanization, subdivisions, and shopping malls.
Mitchel Field has built 31 original structures on the Nassau Community College campus. It is now being constructed that five of those buildings, including a former communications center and convenience store, will be converted by the institution.
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