Uncharted Rockland Airfields

CAPROC Airfield, Orangetown, NY  July 4th, 1952 - August 1966

Location: Lake Tappan

The history of the CAPROC airfield goes back to the formation of the Civil Air Patrol in 1941.  Since all Rockland airfields were closed during the war, they were only having meetings at various places in Rockland County.  In 1946, Al Morris moved the CAP operations to Rockland Airport, then upon its closing in 1949, to Millers Airport. When Millers closed in 1952, the CAP needed a new home and a lease was negotiated between the following people and the Hackensack Water Company:  Harold Lockwood, Al Morris, Katherine Couch, Eugene Levine, Richard MacVicar, George Zachgo, Michael Detroy, and Louis Heidleman. Each person was instrumental in the formation of this small turf airstrip. Other members of the CAP were Robert Lapinski, Ray Eberling, and John Christie.  Mac was the first to fly an airplane in to this field from Miller Airport on July 4th, 1952.  The following day, Mac flew in another plane and was cited by the Police department for illegally operating an airport, which was technically not open yet since they were still waiting for zoning approval. 

 

CAPROC was a private field and in order to keep it private they put 2 large X’s at each end of the runway.  Ironically, some pilots would still land and ask what the X was for, so they eventually took them away.  The group had regular scheduled meetings, and the field consisted of a base station for CAP and radio communications.  Over the years, there were several actual searches conducted, ranging from missing aircraft to missing persons.  They had a success story where they located a missing airplane on Storm King Mountain.  The land was on a year to year lease, but finally in 1966 when they started to construct the reservoir, they were told that the lease was coming to an end.  They packed up their operations and moved to Spring Valley Airport and the Orangeburg Armory.

Pictures of the CAPROC Airfield

Grassey Point Airport, Grassey Point, NY  1948 -1953

Location: A marina near the Tappen Zee Bridge

(no known pictures)

This airstrip was owned and operated by a man named Tom Gurran, a WWII Navy pilot.  The strip was built by his friend Norman Cloutier (a Rockland Airport pilot) and Alva Anderson, who owned a home on the property.  Alva kept an Aeronca Champ and an Aeronca C3 at the field.  The C3 is currently still flying at the Rhinebeck Airshow.  The airstrip was very short at only 635 feet long, but with good approaches.  Rich MacVicar was often flying in and out of this field. Landing a Cub with no brakes on such a short runway was no easy feat.  In November of 1950, there was a big flood and the field never really recovered.  The land was eventually used to build parts for the Tappan Zee Bridge.   

 

Grassey Point Seaplane Base, Grassey Point, NY  

Late 1930s- 1960s

Location: Approximately where the Haverstraw Heliport now stand

Tom Seabury, from Suffern, built a hanger at this location which was owned by Gurran oil. 

Tom kept a Aeronca and Cessna 170B on floats there.  Tom originally flew out of Mahwah Airport and then Spring Valley Airport.  Both of his children are pilots; his son Randall is flying a Cessna 140A and  his daughter a Cessna 150.  

 

Boelke Duster Strip - Suffern, NY  1949 - ?

Location: Very close to Rockland Community College

(No known pictures)

Opened by Bill Bohlke, owner of Spring Valley Airport.  He used this strip primarily for a crop dusting business; he also operated a Super Cub out of the strip.  

 
 

Kolka Airstrip/Strawtown Farms  – Likely opened in the 60s. 

 Location: Between the reservoir and Strawtown Rd. Currently a street at this location called Kolka Lane. 

(No known pictures)  

Owner Joseph Kolka ran the last Dairy Farm in Rockland County at this location.  It was known by the locals as Strawtown Farms or Strawtown Dairy Farm.  Joe kept a Cessna 150 there.  Pilot Andy Seligson recalls landing at this airstrip well into the 1980s. Fieldstone Farms development is currently on the property. 

Hillcrest Country Club – Spring Valley, NY  – Late 50s to early 60s

Location: Where the NY Country Club in Hillcrest now stands. 

 (No known pictures)  

Little information exists on this airfield, other than it was opened by 3 men on a farm.  The story is that the zoning board closed it quickly due to their findings on the grounds.  Apparently, there was a Monkey Farm at the location where research was taking place.  There were stories of the Monkeys running around the farm and in people’s yards. The airfield existed for a very short time, possibly only a few weeks. 

 

Seaplane Base, Stony Point, NY  Mid to late 50s

Location: Currently Willow Cove Marina

(No known pictures)  

Believed to have been owned and used by a man Dr. Stainer. Located just below the Stony Point battlefield. Dr. Stainer also flew out of Spring Valley airport.  The base sat on a large piece of land, almost big enough to land planes. 

 

Carl Thompson Airstrip, Monsey, N.Y. 1950s to early 1960s

Location: On Spook Rock Road

(No known pictures)

Carl Thompson was an Eastern Airlines Captain and a prolific airplane builder who enjoyed making homebuilt planes. He had a little plane called “Mighty Mite.”  He also had a gilder that he enjoyed flying. The airstrip was very short.  He had two boys (Blaze and Arow), one of which became a TWA pilot. Carl taught both of his boys how to fly. Rich MacVicar landed there once in his J3 in the 1950s. Carl closed up the strip in the early 60s. 

 

Railroad Airstrip – Orangeburg, N.Y. - 1961

Location: Just south of Exit 5 of the Palisades Interstate Parkway, next to the railroad tracks

(No known pictures)  

This was an interesting airfield in that it only existed for one day!  It was created by the Civil Air Patrol as demonstration for Civil Defense.  A bunch of exercises were performed.  Someone flew in a twin Beech airplane, and the runway was so narrow he couldn’t even turn his airplane around.  The airstrip was located off the NY Central Railroad. It was one of the points of embarkation for the troops during WWII. The airstrip was active for that one day in 1961; during that one day 14 different airplanes landed and took off.  

 

Duster Strip – Blauvelt Rd,  Orangeburg, N.Y. -  1946 to 1952

Location: On Blauvelt Road between Hoover Street and Collidge St.  Residential homes are there today

Members of the Conklin family lived on this land. A farm called Handwerg Farm, a business from Florida, operated on the property. They grew corn and tomatoes there; a Duster company named McDaniel Duster Company from Fort Pierce, Florida was also located there and dusted the crops.  They kept a Command-Aire biplane on site.  That biplane changed hands quite a few times and is currently still flying in Florida on barnstorming tours.  The owner is Robert Lock. The airplane tail number is NC997E. Also on the field was a 1939 Aeronca Chief that was badly damaged in a wind storm.  Richard MacVicar repaired the plane himself in a garage in New City. One of the duster pilots that operated out of the field injured himself on a moving prop. After the accident, he moved to Florida and coincidentally did it again, but this time lost his arm.

Pictures of the Airstrip

A short history on the Command-Aire that was kept on site:

Curtiss Flying Service sold NC997E to the Eagle Airplane Company Incorporated, Rocky Mount, North Carolina in 1932. Records show the ship had an operation time of only 200 hours. The ship was owned by Eagle Airplane Company until December 22, 1942. With a total flying time of 541 hours, NC997E was sold to J.R. McDaniel of Fort Pierce, Florida. McDaniel converted the ship back to the restricted category by installing a dusting hopper in the front cockpit. On July 22, 1945, a Continental R-670 radial engine producing 220 horsepower was installed to increase reliability for crop dusting. Modification to the ship was field approved by the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA). The last license was May 6, 1952 with a total flying time of 1625 hours, from October 15, 1929 to May 6, 1952. The logbooks showed the aircraft operated a total of 202 hours from May 1951 to May 1952. 

A recent picture of NC997E taken at Osh Kosh Air Show

 

Duster Strip –Orangeburg, N.Y -  1947-51

Location: Blaisdell Rd.

(No known pictures)  

A small duster strip was located off of Hog Rd, which is now called Blaisdell Rd.  The Chromalloy Gas Turbine factory is there now.  Not much more is known about this strip

 

Mount Ivy Airstrip, Mount Ivy, N.Y. - 1940-1941

Location: On Route 202, about 1/2 mile west of Route 45 on the north side of the road.  

According to Gordon Wren, Sr., It was started by Al Morris, Erik Carlson and Bill Bohlke in 1939.  During its time, it was an active little field with a hanger, windsock and a fuel depot.  The owners had bought an Aeronca Chief that was based there. The field closed due to the war.  After the war, it was the site of the Mt Ivy Sand and Gravel.  Today there is a diner across from its location. 

Pictures of the Airstrip

 

Kakiat Field,  Suffern, N.Y. – Prewar 

Location: On Rt. 202 between Grandview Avenue and Viola Rd. 

Viola Elementary school is on that property today.

According to an interviewed glider pilot who lived in the area, this field was owned and operated by a man named Joseph “Mike” Sheehan, Jr., as well as Bill Bohlke who was a partner.  It existed before the war and was a tomato farm.  Very little is known about it, but it was mentioned in the Christie book as an active airfield.  Also, further research shows Mr. Sheehan as the pilot who flew the first Suffern Airmail flight to Newark Airport on May 19, 1938, the same day of the Christie airmail flight.  He was 19 years old at the time.  The flight originated from this field, then continued on to Floyd Bennett Field on Long Island, and later on to Newark Airport. 

 

Rich MacVicar would often fly over the old abandoned field, and one time had an engine problem forcing him to land on the old strip. A picture was taken of the event (below).  

 

Tallman Airstrip, Suffern, NY – Prewar

Location: Near Rt 59 and Good Samaritan hospital.  Norvartis Pharmaceutical runs parallel to it.

(No known pictures)

This was a landing strip that was used to “hop” passengers.  Ed Gorski, operator of Teterboro Airport, would fly here in a Ford Tri-motor to give rides to people.  Little is known about it.  There was a Convent there, and Ed would say that nuns would wave to him on takeoff.   Several people interviewed, including Tom Seabury and Bill Beard remembered the field. Tom Seabury, who lived in Suffern, NY remembers walking there when he was young and watching the planes take off. Bill Beard, the 2nd owner of the Spring Valley Airport, said that he took his first airplane ride there in the 1930’s.  

Captain O. M. Goodsell flew his Tri-Motor transporter plane from Suffern to Blauvelt in July of 1938. His flight was recorded in the local news

 

Spook Rock Airport, Tallman, NY - Prewar

Location: Parallel to the railroad tracks in Monsey.

Spook Rock airport, often referred to as "Tallman Airport" was opened in 1932 by Fred Ennis. According to Fred's son Paul Ennis, Fred named the airport "Spook Rock" because after spending much time clearing all the rocks and boulders from the runway, there always seemed to be another one popping up on the runway just as he was about to land. It was a short lived field that closed when the family moved to Maryland. 

Pictures of the Airstrip

Fred owned a Great Lakes that he had since new and that plane is still flying today by his son Paul Ennis.  The Ennis airport in Maryland is still up and running where Paul keeps many classic aircraft.  Read more about some history on the field and the Great Lakes here

 

Henderson Airport, Tallman, N.Y.  – 1934

Location: Landing Strip located on Maple Avenue in Monsey

(No known pictures)

Henderson's airport was a landing strip in the Tallman/Monsey area. In May 1934 the airport was saved by volunteers from a brush blaze that burned acres. Other than this article - not much is known about this landing strip.  

 

Tri-Motor Airstrip, West Nyack, N.Y.  – Prewar   

Location: On Route 303 in West Nyack, east side of the road, across from the old Drive-in theater.  Greenbush Road now runs through where the strip was once located.

According to Al Morris (CAPROC and Rockland Airport operator), Captain Goodsell used this strip to hop passengers for sightseeing flights.  Al also mentioned that the strip also operated a Kinner Bird airplane there as well.  Location of this airstrip is on Route 303 in West Nyack, east side of the road, across from the old Drive-In Theater.  Greenbush Road now runs through where the strip was once located.

The 1950s picture below shows the remains of the airstrip southeast of the intersection of Rt. 303 and Rt. 59.  The clearing on the east side of 303 shows what was once the short airstrip.  On the northwest corner of the intersection, you can see the Miller Airport, which was open at this time.

 

SAMSONDALE- West Haverstraw, N.Y.  – Pre-war

Location: Off Rt 202.  Samsondale  Plaza is there now

(No known pictures)

This strip is mentioned in the book “Bailing Wire, Chewing Gum and Guts” by Bill Rhode. Used in the 1920s for Barnstorming shows by the Gates Flying Circus, which operated a fleet of Standard airplanes.  A well-known barnstormer named Captain O.M. Goodsell flew the Ford Tri-Motor out of many fields in the area.  Captain Goodsell operated his Ford Tri-motor off of this strip at some point.