12-Year-Old Is Cutting Grass So He Can Pay For College The History of Brookhaven Calabro Airport

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The History of Brookhaven Calabro Airport

Recently visited Brookhaven Calabro Airport, tucked away behind woods and private homes, accessible via the local Dawn Drive, and on a pristine day in late March, the steel wool sky was so low it almost scratched you, What is revealed, but not necessarily what.

The tarmac near Mid-Island Air Service is littered with mostly single-engine aircraft, interrupted occasionally by twin-engine aircraft, and on this barely visible flight rules (VFR) day, the lone propeller of a Cirrus SR-20 Crackle almost unexpectedly. Silence is like a hammer hitting a pane of glass.

The golden brick structure at the north end of the airport, the once proud classroom and training monolith of the Dowling College Aviation Education Center, is frozen in time, the promise of the past failing to deliver the airport’s future.

The only low-rise cement block terminal equipped with a single monitor of the facility’s Transit Advisory Frequency (CTAF) has the same closed luncheonette, core, at some point in any general aviation airport, as it provides Local and cross-country pilots have a destination and a purpose, and witness the many student pilot-instructor duos who have discussed aircraft handling techniques over the years on paper New York cutaways that double as tablecloths.

A glance at the rectangular room with the “Repair Shop” sign reveals its former raison d’être, sporty round stools, a lunch counter, cold-cut slicer and a rusty coffee maker. A recent survey showed interest and revival of it as a restaurant. Perhaps it also indicates a future for its repositioning.

The towerless, dual-runway, 795-acre public general aviation airport is located a mile north of the Shirley business district on East Long Island, Suffolk, and is owned by the Town of Brookhaven.

Originally designated the Mastic Flight Strip, it was constructed on 325 acres at the end of World War II in 1944 to provide logistical support for the U.S. Army Air Corps before ownership was transferred to New York State and eventually to the Brookhaven Township Division General Aviation was established in 1961 and is the current owner. Given its current “Calabro” moniker, it was named after Dr. Frank Calabro, who was instrumental in its development but who and his wife Ruth were tragically killed in an airplane accident 30 years later.

Construction and expansion produced more and more hangars, shops, fixed base operators (FBOs), the current terminal building and a second concrete runway to complement the first runway in 1963.

The runways, including runway 6-24 at 4,200 feet and runway 15-33 at 4,255 feet, are paved and lighted, but the latter is equipped with an instrument landing system (ILS) equipped and maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) .

The federal Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded a total of $5 million, including $1.5 million to nearby Islip Long Island MacArthur Airport, to facilitate the replacement of the nearest lighthouse and taxiway lighting system.

“We need to maintain runways, lights, structures and navigation aids,” said Brookhaven Township General Services Commissioner Marten W. Haley, which includes the airport itself. “Everything has a finite lifespan.”

Several fixed base operators and other tenants at the airport include Brookfield Aviation, Mid-Island Air Service, Northeast Air Park, Ed’s Aircraft Refinishing, Long Island Soaring Association, Island Aerial Air (for banner towing), NAASCO Northeast Corporation (for executive aircraft and Helicopter Repair and Overhaul) and Sky Dive South Shore.

Once a cornerstone of the airport, Dowling College’s School of Aviation, which offers a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Systems Technology and Aviation Management and attends the Federal Aviation Administration, closed when Oakdale University itself declared bankruptcy and ceased operations in 2016. Bureau Air Traffic Control Academy Training Initiative. A fleet of private pilots and a Fiasca flight simulator enable its students to obtain private, instrument, multi-engine, instructor (CFI) and commercial ratings.

Although the field is primarily concerned with general aviation flying activities, there have been a few other events throughout its history.

For example, as the former’s new base, after the 44-passenger Swissair Convair CV-440 Metropolitans operated by Cosmopolitan Airlines from the Republic Airport in Farmingdale and its eponymous Cosmopolitan Sky Center were transferred here, they, along with a number of other types, provided intermediaries to the Atlantic City of Budfield.

The Grand Old Airshow, held in 2006 and 2007, was designed to take viewers back to the biplane and World War II era and showcase Long Island Aviation.

Attracting visitors with flyers and a website, it urges them to “join us this year as we travel back in time to celebrate Long Island’s golden age of aviation,” where biplanes took to the skies “decades ago.” It continues by offering “a bygone era of aviation, as World War I dogfights, open cockpit biplanes, World War II fighter jets, and of course the famous Geico Skytypers, soar above the blue skies of Long Island” its publicity.

The show itself features vintage cars and static aircraft displays, the latter including TBM Avengers, Fokker Dr-1s, Nieuports and Messerschmitt Me-109s, while aerial stunts include a “randomly chosen” Piper J-3 Comedy action audience member Carl Spackle performed by the Cubs; Delsey Dive and balloon popping on loan from Old Rhinebeck Airport, targeted by Great Lakes Speedsters, Fleet 16Bs and PT-17 Stearmans; Motorbikes on the runway and low-flying PT-17s the speed race between them; the aerobatics of the SF-260; and the skywriting of the Sukhoi 29s.

The Sikorsky UH-34D Seahorse Marine helicopter was used for combat rescue during the Vietnam, Cuban Missile Crisis, NASA during the Project Mercury astronaut recovery program, and demonstrated search and rescue procedures.

Long Island Airways and formation flying also had good performances. Byrd, N3N, Fleet Model 16B, and N2S Stearman aircraft from the Bayport Aerodrome Society; P-40 Warhawks and P-51 Mustangs from Warbirds over Long Island; F4U Corsairs from the U.S. Air Force Museum; and Geico Skytypers from Republic Airfield SNJ-2.

Offers vintage vehicle and airplane rides. Spectators brought their own lawn chairs and lined them up alongside the lively runway in Tuskegee Airmen costumes and presentations. Franchise trucks sell everything from hot dogs to ice cream and souvenirs, and many aviation-related schools and associations set up booths.

Held over two consecutive fall seasons, the Grand Old Airshow is a one-day, one-visit outdoor glimpse into where Long Island’s multifaceted aviation history was written and recreated.

A non-flying 2008 tribute to Vinny Nasta is also available. A Riverhead High School art teacher from Wading River, who was 47 when the Nieuport 24 replica he was piloting at the old Rhinebeck airfield crashed into the woods after a simulated dogfight with another Fokker replica. Dr.1 Triplane, August 17th of that year.

Dr. Tom Daly, former dean of Dowling College’s School of Aviation, director of the Airshow at Old Rhinebeck Airport and founder of Brookhaven’s big old airshow, was forced to suspend the increasingly popular fall event.

“There were people on the ground who were against the show,” he said, “and everyone reached out. I was asked to pay x dollars for security and x dollars for emergency medical assistance. I can’t do that anymore. That kind of expectation to put on an airshow and pay for it.”

Today, Brookhaven Calabro Airport’s 217 aircraft provide the majority of activity, 92 percent of which are single-engine, 5 percent multi-engine and 3 percent glider. During the 12-month period ended March 25, 2005, there were 135,100 aircraft movements throughout the year, an average of 370 per day, 99% of which belonged to the general aviation category, enabling student pilots to obtain their licenses and practice flying in a tower-less environment during weekdays. The airport is walk-and-go.

Its future depends on this aviation sector.

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