Apr 11 2016

Mystery Foto #15 Solved: Motor Parkway Parking Space Adjacent to Long Island Aviation Country Club

Frank Femenias found this rare Mystery Foto of the Long Island Aviation Country Club located in Hicksville (now Levittown).

Mystery Foto questions:

  • Al Velocci has confirmed that there was no entrance on to the Motor Parkway from the Long Island Aviation Club. However, this photo clearly shows an entrance. Provide a possible explanation.

Al Velocci: "Based on the condition of the Motor Parkway it is probably still in operation. My guess is that there is something special going on the Long Island Aviation Country Club. Vanderbilt, being the business man he is, took advantage of the event, opened temporary parking accommodations on the  both sides of the roadway for a fee of course." 

As submitted by Sam Berliner III, the Motor Parkway built a parking space near Roosevelt Field (see below Berliner's Bonus.) Our Mystery Foto has a similar sign and fencing near the Long Island Aviation Country Club. Other aerial images of the hangar  from the Alamy stock photo website confirm that this area was a parking space rather than an entrance.

  • What is the approximate date of the aerial? Provide a rationale.

The caption with the aerial does not have a date. However, the date of the photo was likely from May 1929 to July 1931, when the Motor Parkway was very much active.

Rationale: This time period represented the lifespan of the blimp that probably took the aerial- Goodyear Blimp NC10-A Mayflower.  A photo of the Mayflower at the Long Island Aviation Country Club is posted in the same Alamy.com stock photo series as the Mystery Foto.

As submitted by Gary Hammond (see Hammond's Historical Happenings), it is also possible that the aerial was taken by the Goodyear Blimp Virgilant which visited the Long Island Aviation Country Club for an air meet on June 8, 1930.

  • What was the likely home base of the blimp and who was flying it?

The Goodyear Blimp Mayflower (NC-10A) was based at New Bedford, Massachusetts and St. Petersburg, Florida. It was destroyed in a storm on July 12, 1931 when it crashed into power lines at the Kansas City Municipal airport and burned.

Congrats and kudos to Gary Hammond, Sam Berliner III, Al Velocci, Tim Ivers, Frank Femenias, Ted and Steve Lucas for submitting information that likely solved the mystery of our Mystery Foto.



Howard Kroplick


This aerial from the same stock photo series shows the other side of the parking space.

Goodyear Blimp NC10-A Mayflower at Hicksville Aviation Country Club, Hicksville, NY. Courtesy of Alamy.com stock images.

The Goodyear Blimp Mayflower in 1929

Hammond's Historical Happenings (Submitted by Gary Hammond)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 9,1930

Comparison size and shapes of USN airships, including the Los Angeles and a blimp (lower image)

Goodyear Blimp Vigilant

Goodyear Blimp Resolute at Holmes Airport, Jackson Heights, Queens on May 18, 1932.

Iver's Insight (Submitted by Tim Ivers)

This looks like a dirt path from the LIMP to the old country club.

Berliner's Bonus (Submitted by Sam Berliner III)

A Motor Parkway parking space sign at Roosevelt Field.

Lucas' Learnings (Submitted by Steve Lucas)

 While researching today's photo, I found the following website:     www.thegrassrootsaviator.com
There are many photos of the L I Aviation Country Club on that site  taken by famed LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstadt in 1937. Several  of them show the LIMP.

Femenias' Finding Submitted by Frank Femenias)

A photo of the possible mystery blimp ath the 1939/1940 World's Fair.

Updated: 4/18/2016


Apr 08 2016 Ted 12:31 AM

Hay Howard!, I may have an answer for this one,just by looking at the the pictures I can see a possible entrance,but I have to check it further,before Monday night,I hope,sure going to try.

Apr 10 2016 Tom Gotard 9:23 AM

Could be a US Navy blimp from Lakehurst NJ

Apr 10 2016 S. Berliner, III 9:53 AM

Always knew there was an entrance there but now can’t remember why.  Instantly thought it had to be the R34 coming in to land at Mineola on 06 Jul 1919 but the cars appear to be of a later date, say 1928-30.  Also, the shadow, although it may well be foreshortened, looks far more like a blimp (Type B, limp) than a rigid airship (dirigible); the fins are far to big in proportion to the gasbag.  Good one, Howard; I look forward to the denouement.  Sam, III

Apr 10 2016 Tim Ivers 2:10 PM

August 1939, a huge air show featuring 3 Goodyear blimps, aircraft and both invited and uninvited guests.  The LIMP had closed two years before but the roadway was still there and there looks to be a path between it and the rear of the Clubhouse.

Apr 10 2016 Ted 2:18 PM

I said I was going to get back to this. I see two possible entrances,one on side and the other on other side of motor parkway. One at the left upper,the other at the center on the other side,they both have openings

Apr 10 2016 S. Berliner, III 2:36 PM

HA!  I *KNEW* I’d seen that entrance before; it was posted on my site on a page I have yet to restore http://sbiii.com/limpwnas.html - Western Nassau - I’ll do it and page 2 now) and is credited to some guy named H. Kroplick, http://sbiii.com/limppix/rff-limp.jpg !  Near-total recall triumphs yet again.  Sam, III

Apr 10 2016 Steve Lucas 2:36 PM

Well it looks like it’s time for a few more educated guesses. For several years in the late 1930’s, the L I Aviation Country Club held an annual airshow where airplane manufacturers were invited to show off their latest planes. Three Goodyear blimps were reported to have attended the 1939 show, one of which could have been the"Mayflower”, piloted by Jack Boettner. Today’s photo could have been taken from the “Mayflower” showing its own shadow. If it is the “Mayflower”, its home base was New Bedford, MA and St. Petersburg, FL. If the photo was taken in 1939, the LIMP had already closed by that time so the L I Aviation Country Club might have been using the roadway (illegally?) as an easy access from Jerusalem Ave.

Apr 10 2016 S. Berliner, III 3:03 PM

Oops!  Wrong link - the entrance image is on my Central Nassau page, http://www.sbiii.com/limpcnas.html, which IS posted.  Sam, III

Apr 10 2016 S. Berliner, III 3:19 PM

Second thought - Goodyear blimp that overflew 1939-40 World’s Fair?  Sam, III

Apr 10 2016 frank femenias 7:14 PM

Willie K opposed to LIACC access from the parkway, but here we are, BUSTED! Everyone caught red-handed and all license plates recorded on camera. Send in the paddy wagon. Originally, I didn’t think of a ‘special day’ but that makes more sense. I have a hunch the blimp’s presence could be for opening day at the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadow’s Park’s Valley of the Ashes, one year after the Motor Parkway closed.  The LIACC airfield could’ve been used as a refueling station for the blimp. The field was large enough and accommodating.
Two unresolved problems with this theory;
1. Why not use the original airport road for access from Jerusalem Rd instead?
2. The missing tennis court adjacent to the country club building shows no sign of demolition. The grass appears greener than ever. Could this photo been taken at LIACC’s opening in 1929, before the tennis court installation, and the Motor Parkway still open for business? Nah, I’m going with my first theory

Apr 10 2016 Art Kleiner 10:05 PM

Since Willie K. directed that no Motor Parkway entrance to the airfield be permitted, the entrance may have been made after the closing of the parkway.  Documentation also points to the airfield having 3 Goodyear blimps in 1939, so I’ll guess that to be the year.

Apr 10 2016 Brian D McCarthy 10:09 PM

Hello all. This isn’t as difficult as last weeks mystery, but I’m not so sure of my proposed answer. I believe this aerial photo was taken after the LIMPS closing. I’m assuming the aviation club modified the guardrails on the north and south side of the LIMP with a “swinggate” so the members could access the club property. It also appears that the guard rails don’t continue west and east of each swinggate? While perusing thru the AIRFIELDS-FREEMAN website, there is a paragraph mentioning a “stratosphere laboratory plane & good year blimps” attracting crowds in The Long Island Aviation Club property. The shadow of a blimp is obvious in the mystery photo, and I read that airships are ideal for aerial photography because of their relative slowness. Photo date 1939. I have don’t have an answer for the homebase or operator of the dirigible. You really do find some great photos, Frank.

Apr 11 2016 Howard Kroplick 8:38 PM

From Gary Hammond:

Here’s my Hammond’s Historical Happenings on this photo:

The Long Island Aviation Country Club was officially dedicated on June 29, 1929 at Hicksville.  Forty aircraft would be kept at the field.  Although there wasn’t an “official” entrance from the LIMP to the LIACC, it doesn’t surprise me that an “unofficial” entrance might have existed.  With prominent aviation personalities such as Charles L. Lawrence and Chance Vought serving as President and Secretary-Treasurer, along with charter members such as Amelia Earhart, Charles A. Lindbergh, Major Alexander de Seversky, publisher James M. Patterson, his daughter Alicia Patterson, John Hays Whitney, Harry Guggenheim, and Grover Loening, one would believe that a few strings could be pulled to provide access to the Club from the LIMP, especially on special occasions!

Although the New York Times reported on June 29, 1929 that the U.S. Navy dirigible Los Angeles flown by Commander Charles E. Rosendahl , Chief of the lighter-than-air branch of the Naval Air Service, would fly up from Lakehurst, N.J., “and dip the giant ship over the club grounds”, I doubt that this photo was taken then.  Why?  The profile of the LTA (lighter than air) ship is probably not of a large rigid airship, such as the 658 ft. long dirigible Los Angeles, but that of a smaller non-rigid blimp, such as the 128 ft. Vigilant, which was christened on June 25, 1929, and crashed November 20, 1930.  Also the landscaping around the LIACC clubhouse seems “grown” and showing much wear – something which I doubt would have looked that way opening day.  Also notice the shape and proportion of the fins at the rear of the ship; more like a blimp (see photos).
Unless the photo is actually dated, I would guess the occasion shown took place a year later, on Sunday, June 8, 1930, when it was reported that 500 members of the LIACC attended an air meet at the field.  As reported in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle a number of the members were taken up for flights in the Goodyear blimp Vigilant, which had arrived from Aberdeen, Maryland.

This would not be the only time that a Goodyear blimp would stop and call Long Island home in the early 1930’s.  The following year the Goodyear blimp Columbia spent the fall of 1931 cruising around N.Y.C. and L.I., and taking up passengers.  It was first listed on September 20, 1931 as being based at Grand Central Air Terminal (aka Holmes Airport), Jackson Heights, Queens (opened March 16, 1929).  Among the times specifically mentioned when Nassau residents might have seen the blimp flying close by was on Saturday, October 17th, when a “Great Four-Field Flying Circus” took place between Floyd-Bennett Field (Brooklyn) / Roosevelt Field / Curtiss-Wright Field (Valley Stream) / and Glenn Curtiss Field (aka North Beach, Jackson Heights, Queens).  It could have been seen again on December 21, 1931, when the Columbia visited Roosevelt Field.  Unfortunately, on Saturday, February 13, 1932, the blimp crashed, ending its L.I. visit.

I’ve attached 3 images I got off the web:
• comparison size and shapes of USN airships, including the Los Angeles and a blimp (lower image)
• the Goodyear Blimp Vigilant
• and a Goodyear blimp at Holmes airport (see Abandoned & Little- Known Airfields)

Hope I’m right,

Gary Hammond

Apr 11 2016 Ted 11:37 PM

So,I got something out of it,parking on both side of the road,not bad ha.Thanks for the rest of the info you gave guys.

From Howard Kroplick

Good job, Ted! I added you in the kudos!!

Apr 12 2016 Brian D McCarthy 8:10 AM

Always seeing myself as a “curious apprentice” of the LIMP and other history, would someone mind answering my own question? I see now that the “openings in the guard rails ” weren’t “access gates” for the club members, but temporary openings for parking. Does the appearance of no guard railing continuation well East and West of the LIMP have anything to do with the parking accommodations?

Apr 13 2016 Brian D McCarthy 6:23 PM

You don’t have to accept my comment, Howard.I’m going to answer my previous question. After viewing enough clear aerials of the aviation club, I’ve either seen sporadic guardrail sections, or none at all. The ROW posts are consistent. So, maybe LIMP guardrailing wasn’t of great importance near the clubs property. I believe the club was operational about a decade after the LIMPS closing? The guardrails slowly and surely deterioted. If I come across some cryptic photo of the LIMP, I surely submit it as a new mystery.

Apr 14 2016 Ted 12:24 AM

Thanks for adding me to the kudos Howard

Apr 18 2016 frank femenias 1:34 AM

Hey Brian, I think you are correct about the posts. Like you, I also believe only the outer ROW posts were consistent, where those were used for keeping non-paying travelers away from LIMP property. Also, the inner roadway posts were mostly used in hazardous roadway conditions like curves, elevated roadways, and bridges. Before parking began at the airport, roadway posts there were not necessary as the airport sat on flat and straight ground. They were most likely installed afterwards to shield the parked cars from LIMP traffic. I’m sending Howard a photo of the same area where no roadway posts appear, and when vehicles were parking on the south side on Hempstead Plains instead (a swampy area). I believe Willie K’s objection for LIMP access to the airport was all about safety, but since LIMP traffic turned out lighter than expected, access was then granted.

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