2009-05-29 / Letters

Flight Of NC-4

Dear Editor,

From the very first time I heard of the flight of the NC-4 I began to collect as much information as I could on the flight and now have a nice file of facts. Over the years I've appreciated the fact that The Wave has constantly called for the proper recognition of this first transatlantic crossing by plane that the US Navy, Dept. of Interior, Gateway National Recreation Area, the US Postal Service, our representatives in Congress and our city and state legislators have seen fit not to do so themselves neither by a properly placed plaque nor a stamp with the image of the NC-4.

The present GNRA exhibition, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the event, though somewhat sparse is at least a start. Among the few exhibits is the plaque, from the collection of The Rockaway Museum, which was presented to Rockaway at the 75th anniversary of the flight, but never installed at Riis Park. Prior to its showing at the bath-house it was collecting dust on the third floor of the Wave building. It's time to permanently place this plaque where it belongs: just a few hundred feet north of the bath-house facing Jamaica Bay or affixed to the bath-house proper. The model of the NC-4 also belongs to the collection of The Rockaway Museum and was built on the suggestion of Harold Cornell. Periodically I make some minor repairs on the model to keep it in good shape. Susan Locke, Museum Director, has graciously lent the model and the plaque to GNRA for the exhibit. Perhaps it

Letters can be permanently displayed at the bath-house for all to see.

As for a stamp commemorating the event, keep in mind that the US Postal Service has issued a stamp for just about every historic event in aviation history, but not one stamp for this epic flight. On May 8, 1979 a special event cachet was issued for the 60th anniversary of the NC-4 flight and was cancelled in the Rockaway Beach Postal Station. But this issue (I'm enclosing an image of the item) was not a First Day Cover in the true sense since the stamp honors aviation pioneer Octave Chanute (he experimented on glider flights in the late 1800s) and not the NC-4. Ironically this cachet issue was one of a series published by the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum under its "Milestones of Flight Commemorative Series." Imagine that: a milestone of flight, but the stamp doesn't commemorate the NC-4.

When the reader drives his/her car on the Beach Channel Drive overpass leading to Fort Tilden he/she has no idea that the car is passing over the site where the giant NC flying boat hanger and maintenance shops were situated back in 1919 on the US Naval Air Station, Rockaway, L.I. The reader will have no idea that just to the right of the bridge the NC-1, 3 and 4 moved down the marine rail tracks into Jamaica Bay and on to one of the most exciting, danger-ridden, historical event in modern times.

STEPHEN YAEGER

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