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ABOUT LONG ISLAND George Vecs
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GARDEN CITY
[[on margin]] ^[[Dear Na??, Thought you might like to read this article from "The N.Y. Times", 1/14/79, Love, Ellie]]
THE ISLAND is going to have an aviation museum--finally.  The only problem is that the Roaring Twenties heroics are going to be presented in a Proposition 13 economy.
Even most Long Island residents probably do not know that the flatlands of Hempstead were the single most important site in world aviation from 1911 until well into the 1930's.
Now Nassau County is going to establish a Cradle of Aviation Museum in two old hangars at Mitchel field. There are hopes of opening the display, which includes several important Lindbergh planes, by late spring. But the museum will depend a great deal on public enthusiasm and volunteer work because of financial problems in the county.
As a sign of the austerity program, the museum will have a director who will receive the shades-of-World War II salary of a dollar a year. Recalling the era when captains of industry volunteer their time and expertise, George C. Dade has agreed to organize the public and private effort.
The curator of the museum will be William K. Kaiser, a historian who is employed by the county museum system and was a a World War II blimp pilot. "We can be a major air and space museum," said Mr. Kaiser, who has studied many prominent museums while waiting for his own to open.
Mr. Kaiser thinks the Nassau museum could fit near the level of the five best air museums in the United States: the National Air and Space Museum in Washington; the Navy Museum at Pesacola, Fla.; the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Field in Dayton, Ohio; the San Diego Aerospace Museum in California, now being rebuilt after a disastrous fire, and the Bradley Air Museum, just north of Hartford.
The county already lists six airplanes stacked away, including the Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny" that was Charles A. Lindbergh's first plane, and the Ryan NYP Brougham, a sister ship to the Spirit of St. Louis, which last few on May 20, 1977, the 50th anniversary of Lindbergh's flight to Paris.
"There are dozens of other planes we can get as soon as people are convinced we have the museum." Mr. Dade said.
Mr. Dade and many other people have been trying to establish a fitting air museum on the Island because of its prominence in the first quarter-century of aviation. The Island was selected after Glen Curtiss, a motorcycle racer from upstate Hammondsport, began building planes shortly after the Wright brothers. Wanting flatter land [[/column 1]]
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and mild winters, Curtiss headed to the New York area in 1910.
"He must have thought Long Island was paradise, the promised land, when he laid his eyes on all that flat space," Mr. Dade said.
Soon Curtiss was building his Pushers in early hangars and giving the world's first flying lesson to Charlie Willard, a few yards from the present Roosevelt Field shopping center.
In 1921, Mr. Dade's father took a job with Curtiss, and the family lived on an old base hospital just off the Curtiss Field runway. From his front porch, Mr. Dade could see Lindbergh, Richard E. Byrd, Bert Acosta, Elinor Smith, Amelia Earhart and dozens of other famous pilots of the 1920's. He learned to fly there in 1928 and once had his picture snapped helping Lindbergh adjust his parachute.
Now there is little public notice of that exciting time. The memorabilia are often squirreled away by collectors like Mr. Dade and Carl (Slim) Henicke, an old wing-walker in Southampton who has tried to establish some museum in Suffolk.
Six years ago Frank Strnad, a historian from East Northport, learned that Lindbergh's old plane was moldering in an Iowa barn. Given this clue, Mr. Dade trekked out there and helped bring the Jenny back to the Island. Nearly 100 members of the Long Island early Fliers renovated the Jenny in Mr. Dade's home.
Meanwhile, Nassau County Executive Ralph G. Caso was planning a million-dollar aviation museum at Roosevelt Field, but he ran out of money and support by the Republicans. The new Executive, Francis T. Purcell, a fiscal conservative, has agreed to give two hangars and the old Mitchel Field firehouse for a museum. Mr. Dade, whose company shipped over 40,000 planes in World War II, will work with Mr. Kaiser to build some kind of museum with help from groups like the the Friends of the Nassau County Museum and the Long Island Early Fliers, the Grumman retirees and other volunteers.
For the last month, some work has been going on at the firehouse. But there are administrative problems still to be faced - an overlap of authority with Nassau Community College, heating of the hangars, security, traffic control, leaking roofs, insurance.
"We can tell the story of aviation right here on Long Island, from the age of the Wright brothers to men walking on the moon," Mr. Kaiser said. "We have zero money at this stage, but at least we're getting started." [[/column 2]] 
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