USA Northeast

Floyd Bennet Field,NY - 15oct09

Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation (BAHF)
Historical Aircraft Restoration Project (HARP)


Copyright Ruud Leeuw Photos © R.Leeuw
 

 

BAHF C-97
A visit to the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation at Floyd Bennet Field,NY

I had arranged to visit Bill Rumpf of the BAHF the day prior to our flight home: thursday 15Oct09.
Bill was a little worse for wear, suffering from a cold in the drafty hangar and recovering from a visit of 100 schoolkids to the humongous C-97 Stratofreighter that very morning. He took me to a warm office, but I was relentless and wanted to explore the C-97, with a kid's enthusiasme, while also fully aware that my wife was waiting outside in the car while the rain was pummeling down on the softop of our rental car...
Bill, the good sport he is, took me all over the C-97 and told me a zillion facts & details.
The C-54 also operated by the BAHF was not present, residing elsewhere to limit to/fro flying for various air displays it visits. Hope to catch it some other day.

Collapsable tail

N113GA To be able to park in the hangar, the tail of the C-97G can be collapsed. A very nifty feature I would say!
The photo on the right also shows the official tainumber: N117GA.
The manufacturer's serial (or construction) number (msn or c/n) is 16749.
This Boeing C-97G was registered, as N117GA, to the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation on 09Jan1997. Its former USAF serial was 52-2718.

Though the BAHF hasn’t fired the engines since she came in from New Jersey to Floyd Bennett Field (after the trip from Greybull), the engines are regularly turned with the starters when testing and exercising the equipment; the crew are in the process of having all new hoses fabricated for all four engines and will be starting one engine at a time ($6.000 per engine for the hoses! Donations welcomed!). Hopefully the day for this Stratofreighter to become airborne is not too far off!
Cavernous hull of the Straofreighter
This Stratofreighter used to be an aerial KC-97L refuelling aircraft. But those tanks have been removed and now what remains is the vast hull of this colossal airplane.
Bill Rumpf checking the gauges

Bill is checking if the switches are in the position they should be in, no way of knowing what those kids may have been up to! But nothing out of the ordinary was found, so the kids behaved very well.
I think Bill also told me the BAHF had their hangar space (the hangar B is shared with 'HARP') rented for a Bar Mitzvah: anything for a good fundraiser!
Cockpit of the C-97
Cockpit of the C-97 Stratofreighter

round Engines - radials rule!
The Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major, a four row radial engine: the same engine as fitted on the B-50, Howard Hughes’s Spruce Goose, the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar and the Convair B-36 Peacekeeper. Huge engines, powerful with their 28 cylinders, two turbochargers as well as single supercharger displacing 4362.5 cubic inches (71.5L) to produce 4300 horsepower (3200kW). Amen to that!

C-97 N117GA at Moses Lake 1996

I came across the same aircraft, at the time registered N117GA, stored at Moses Lake,WA, in May 1996.
A bit of history first: c/n 16749 was delivered as 52-2718 to USAF in 1952, designated a KC-97G, flying as an aerial refuelling tanker. After its career with the USAF, during Aug65 it was modified to KC-97L standards (whatever that entails). 52-2718 was sold at an auction in July 1981 and registered as N1175K to a salvage company in Tucson (who reverted it back to KC-97G standards again).
During Oct89 Grace Aire Foundation Inc. bought it and named it 'Spirit of Corpus Christi'. This was a charitable trust, registered in Corpus Christi,TX and was involved in airborne relief & aid work in 3rd world. Funding came from hauling fish on seasonal contracts in Alaska. As the photo shows, the fuelboom had been removed.
By the time I photographed it at Moses Lake, stored with C-97 N31338 (c/n 16725, USAF 52-2694), it was for sale. The BAHF bought it in 22Apr97, ferried it to Greybull,WY for maintenance on 08Oct98 (reportedly, by this time it had totalled only 8.000 hrs flighttime!), named it 'Deliverance', and prepared it for a ferry flight to Floyd Bennett Field. That flight started on 02Jul01, but due to problems with engine no.1 N117GA diverted to an airport in South Dakota. After repairs, the flight continued on 03Jul but diverted to Aberdeen,SD because no.3 was playing up again!. On 05Nov01 N117GA arrived at Millville,NJ.
During 2000 it was painted in the colours of YC-97A 45-59595, which was the sole C-97 participating in the Berlin Airlift.

My page Photos by Friends & Guests (23) has a fine 1994 photo of this C-97 N117GA in action, in Alaska.

Update on N31338: The WIX Forum ran a thread after N31338 had moved off-airport (Moses Lake,WA) into town awaiting conversion to a restaurant. Someone posted screendumps by Google Maps showing it still around.
But the info was 'The airplane was partially disassembled and moved by road on it's landing gear to a location off of airport property in 2003. Jeff Akridge from Columbia Aviation was in charge of the move and flew as co-pilot on that airplane's last revenue flying on the Alaska Fish Haul. The plane was sold for one dollar to a local named Tom Thorn who wound up scrapping the plane.'
To compare the posted screendump with coördinates and Google Maps jan.2014:
N31338 gone

Bill Rumpf of the BAHF
Bill dwarfed by the huge props...
From Wikipedia:
Floyd Bennett Field, now defunct as an active airfield, was New York City's first municipal airport.
Located in Brooklyn, it was created by connecting Barren Island to a number of smaller marsh islands by filling the channels between them with pumped sand from the water's bottom, and it is now physically part of Long Island.
The airport was named after the famed aviator and Medal of Honor recipient Floyd Bennett (a Brooklyn resident at the time of his death from pneumonia), dedicated on June 26, 1930, and officially opening on May 23, 1931.
The IATA airport code was NOP but now uses the FAA Location Identifier NY22 for a heliport operated by the New York City Police Department.

Many of the earliest surviving original structures were included in a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of their significance as among the largest collection and best representatives of commercial aviation architecture from the period, as well as the significant contributions to civil aviation made there. As such, it was included in 1972 as part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, managed by the National Park Service.

I found Hangar B at this former Naval Air Station not easy to find. No park ranger was at the entrance booth, but I ran into her at the hanger; she was cross with me as that day 'the Park wasn't open' and when I told her I came on an invitation, she told me my visit had not been reported. When I told her my host was Bill Rumpf all was forgotten!


 
Also in Hangar B is the HARP: a group of dedicated volunteers make up the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project. Some of them are trained airplane mechanics, others simply are history buffs & volunteers, who are all in it together actively resurrecting aviation heritage for the public to enjoy.
They reside here in the same hangar as the BAHF at Floyd Bennett Field. So we wander over to their aeroplanes.
Beech C-45
Beech D-18S (UC-45F) Expeditor 90536 (c/n 6999), on loan from NMMC, Va.

SP-2E Neptune 131542
Lockheed SP-2E 131542 (c/n 426-5423) - on loan from NMNA,Fl.
SP-2E Neptune 131542
The Wright R-3350s engines, with the large constant speed props, could keep the Lockheed Neptune on a lengthy patrol: it could stay in the air 22 hours without refueling!
SP-2E 131542
 

 

Douglas C-47B Skytrain 44-76457 (c/n 16041/32789)
C-47B Skytrain 44-76457
C-47B Skytrain 44-76457

Douglas C-47 Skytrain / Dakota; variants & other names: AC-47; C-53; C-117; DC-3; EC-47; Lisunov Li-2/PS-84; Nakajima/Showa L2D; R4D, VC-47; BT-67)>
The DC-3 is given most of the credit for an almost 600% increase in airline passenger traffic between 1936 and 1941. Recognizing its great potential as a military transport, the United States Army specified a number of changes needed to make the aircraft acceptable for military use, including more powerful engines, the removal of airline seating in favor of utility seats along the walls, a stronger rear fuselage and floor, and the addition of large loading doors. A large order was placed in 1940 for the military DC-3, which was designated C-47 and became known as 'Skytrain', a name it would soon be asked to live up to.
More on www.warbirdalley.com
C-47B Skytrain 44-76457 - cabin
Cabin
Cockpit of C-47B Skytrain 44-76457
Cockpit
C-47B Skytrain 44-76457
C-47B Skytrain 44-76457

 

HU-16E
Grumman HU-16E Albatross USCG 7216 (c/n G-292).

In the past this HU-16E Albatross seems to have been on display on New York's USS Intrepid aircraft carrier Sea-Air-Space Museum: Airliners.net
HU-16E
HU-16E
 

 

Fairchild PT-26 Cornell III, N1321V (ex/ 43-36278, 10781 Canada, FZ228)

 

Catalina
Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina N4582T (c/n 1820) - ex/ BuNo.46456, 6509 (Brazil) - on loan from NMMC,Va.
Catalina

 

Grumman Goose
Grumman Goose

Grumman G-21A Goose N644R (c/n B-130) - ex/ 87736.
It looks splendid in its New York Police livery!
Cockpit of N644R

 


Unidentified...

 

Restoration
Progress of building a copy of Wiley Post's Lockheed 5B Vega NR105W 'Winnie Mae'.

 

S-2 tracker
Grumman S-2E Tracker 151662 (c/n 197C), previously (?) registered to the Cradle of Aviation Museum,NY

 

Helo
Sikorsky HH-3F Pelican 1434

 

A-4 Skyhawk
Douglas A-4B Skyhawk 142829 - on loan from NMNA,Fl.

 

LINKS:

BAHF: www.spiritoffreedom.org
HARP
www.williammaloney.com
http://fromtheflightdeck.com
www.nyharborparks.org

Recommended reading:
Bob Ogden's glorious guidebook: Aviation Museum and Collections of North America (Air-Britain, 2007).
In 2011 a 2nd edition was published, fully revised and now also including monuments, by Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd.
North American Museums

 

Paul Looby from Dublin made a visit in May 2011 and shows it isn't so easy to get to this location by public transport:

"While in New York last week I noticed references to the above museum in USA Military Out of Service. Not having a car I discovered that it looked easy to get by public transport.
From the Port Authority Bus Station you can get a South Bound No 2 subway to the terminus Flatbush. You can also get a No 5 train as well.
According to the publicity you can get a Q35 bus to Floyd Bennett. This is where the plan goes a little wrong, as you get off the subway across the road there are 2 bus stops just before Target, unfortunatley the sign for Q35 is weather beaten and I did not notice it...
While Flatbush is a thriving community there are a lack of cabs and the locals are not aware of the Museum/ Restoration area.
I eventually located a cab and he took me to the field, I thought. There are two fine hangers with pictures of Aircraft, unfortunately its an Ice Skating Rink!
I went to the main desk to seek assistance, a very kind administrator rang the Restoration Area and a volunteer arrived and brought me to their hanger, about a mile and a half..."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reactions / comments welcomed.