2009-12-11 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The NC-4 Recreation Flight, May 1986, Rockaway Beach
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

In May of 1986, a celebration was held on the grounds of Beach Channel High School to commemorate the 75th year of naval aviation and the 67th anniversary of the flight of the US Navy seaplane NC-4, the first to cross the pond, so to speak, over the Atlantic Ocean to Europe…by air. No, No, Charles Lindbergh made the first solo flight in 1929!

Two PBY-Catalina vintage seaplanes, one painted the old naval air colors of yellow wings and horizontal stabilizer, and a blue fuselage, marked as NC-4, and the second painted all white, flew up from the naval air station at Pensacola, Florida, and landed in Jamaica Bay behind the high school. There were ceremonies in Florida and Rockaway Beach attended by many old time Navy and civilian pilots and dignitaries from the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Local politicos who attended the Florida events flew up to Rockaway in the planes.

The Rockaway event was emceed by Chuck Scarborough from Channel Four News (himself a pilot), and actor/director Cliff Robertson (also a pilot).

After a short stay at Floyd Bennett Field nearby, the planes took off for a re-creation of the famous flight.

Today in views, the tail section of the PBY-Catalina is shown with a black silhouette of the NC-4 painted on the vertical stabilizer featuring a red, white, and blue colorful background. The horizontal stabilizer is at the lower right and is painted yellow.

Booklets on the flight are still available at the Rockaway Museum in "The Wave" building.

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