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Farmingdale Public Library Local History Blog: Fitzmaurice Flying Field

Monday, June 20, 2022

Fitzmaurice Flying Field was open from 1929 to 1953 in Massapequa. Brady, Cryan, and Colleran purchased large tracts of land north and south of the Long Island Rail Road east of the reservation. They advertised in New York’s Irish neighborhoods, enticing customers with inexpensive land and homes, open spaces, and easy access to New York City. The airfield was an additional incentive to buy houses in this area.

They chose a location for their airfield, based on the recommendations of famed aviator Elinor Smith, who chose the area bounded by Second Avenue to the east, Roosevelt Avenue to the west, Spruce Street to the north, and Smith Street to the south. The 21-acre field had two runways, the longest being only 1,800 feet long, making it one of the smallest fields on Long Island.

The airfield was named after James Fitzmaurice, who had achieved fame as commander of the Irish Air Corps after World War I and as one of three aircrew who crossed the Atlantic from east to west in 1928, the first to perform this arduous task. feat.

During World War II, Ken Tyler, a Hollywood stunt pilot, purchased the land and operated Tyler Flying Services. He sold it in 1947 to Tom Murphy Jr., who ran the Skywriting Corporation of America.

Massapequa Park grew rapidly after World War II and the houses’ proximity to the
the airfield caused concern among its new neighbors, who feared crashes and felt embarrassed by planes taking off and landing so close to their backyard. The school board also needed to build schools and the land was a perfect location. After several months of negotiation, they signed a contract with Murphy, who agreed in April 1953 to accept $600,000 in exchange for the property. The council built Hawthorn School in 1954 on the southeast end of the land and McKenna High School on the north end in 1958.

The Massapequa Historical Society highlighted the significance of Fitzmaurice Flying Field by erecting a marker on Spruce Street, just east of Roosevelt Avenue, in 1995.