A Brief History of the First flying club and Civil airport

By Willie Bodenstein

Willie Bodenstein


Morris Park in New York City was a well-known horse racing track during the 1800 and early 1900. The track eventually fell into disuse and 1908 the Aeronautical Society who had obtained a lease on the property rented out the former racetrack and invited some of the world's aviation inventors - including the creator of the helicopter - to try out their flying machines at the site.

The fences around the old racetrack were removed to create an unobstructed straightway for a flight of at least one kilometre. The largest dirigible in history to that time at a full 105 feet in length, was built there, and one of the first gliders, piloted by 17-year-old Lawrence Lesh, was launched from the former track that year.

Wilbur H. Kimbull's helicopter, upon which he has been working for several years, was also assembled at Morris Park. Some of the machines were able to take off - others just looked very impressive. An airplane that won design for best airplane hosted at the field couldn't even fly, others made it into the air did not go far.

The racetrack buildings at the airfield burned down a few years later and the land was auctioned off in 1913 to residential real estate developers.

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