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A Cape Cod Airport

Falmouth's contribution to aviation history.

By the 1920's, a madness for flight had swept across the country. The golden years of the aviation industry were an entirely different world from the mundane routine of air travel we see today. Celebrities would queue up in order to place themselves within the confines of aircraft—in order to seen and be seen—while enjoying the novelty of being tremendously high up in the air. Suffice to say, aviation was big business, and Cape Cod did not hold itself back from joining in.

The site of Cape Cod's contribution to the aviation industry was found on a level field, roughly one-half mile by one-third of a mile, and it received its first heavy-duty test as an aircraft landing field when the Tin Goose, owned by Jim Rand, touched down there in April 1928.

It was not the first time the field had been put to this purpose, but this landing acted as a catalyst; the successful touching down of the Ford Trimotor proved that the dimensions of the field were such that it could accommodate craft of a profit-earning size.

Later that June, an article appeared in the Falmouth Enterprise titled “Landing Field Possible for Falmouth.” This article indicated the popularity of the aviation industry in the town, and so discussions began between the Board of Trade and one Geoffrey Burlingame—who was both vice-president and general manager of the Coonamesset Ranch Company—about the use of the Hatchville Field for this purpose. It was later approved by the owner of the land, Charles Crane.

Things moved rapidly after this. The town approved $5,000 for the construction of the field, a three-year leased arrangement which was initially fee-free, but eventually a $500 yearly fee was paid out for the second and third years.

While construction commenced on the field's two first runways, the Ludington Flying Service out of Philadelphia established an office building on the field and began to offer flights to Philadelphia and New York. Business wasn't the only purpose the field had; the potential sporting activities that the space had were quickly realized as well.

The first air show held at the field took place soon thereafter, along with featured races, formation flying by the Army Air Corps, parachute drops and various other examples of stunt flying and aerial acrobatics.

The years went on, with the airport steadily growing larger and more well-funded, but things changed rapidly with the advent of World War II. There had been concerns that the space would be taken over by the military, and indeed it was in August 1942.

The space was given over to the Civil Air Patrol and renamed Anti-Submarine Base No. 18. The field lasted in this capacity until October 1943, when the base was decommissioned. One hangar had been destroyed during the C.A.P. days, and the other was transported to Glenn Falls, NY, where the original airport's personnel and operations had been relocated.

From there, the field began to shift from owner to owner: first privately by Robert Kincart for use by the Coonamessett Aviation Country Club, then it was classified as part of the Crane Wildlife Refuge, and then finally it was used for remote-controlled airplane shows, dog competitions and horse shows.

BRUCE BARNARD April 15, 2011 at 01:32 PM
very interesting! as a longtime resident,i did not know this history. BEB
Kathy April 15, 2011 at 09:23 PM
This is a great story.Very interesting how Crane's lands have come to be.Thanks Nick ...keep them coming !!!

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