One of the best little secrets in Bayport hopes to become one of the newest student educational attractions on the south shore when it comes to learning about aviation history and the evolution of the bi-plane.
The Bayport Aerodrome Society aims to advance efforts this year to attract young students to visit the last remaining grass-field airport on Long Island and in doing so infuse new interest and participation in the organization.
At a Bayport Civic Association meeting Tuesday night newly-minted society president John Hess spoke about plans to work with local school districts to develop field trip excursions and also plans to create a new memorabilia center at the small neighbor hub located off Vitamin Drive.
“In some ways it’s been a good little secret for people living here but it’s good to get the word out as we need to protect and keep this grassroots of aviation going,” said Hess, who’s been involved in the society for two decades.
The society has been doing outreach for eight years in providing plane flight experiences and providing programs for interested youngsters and community groups.
“What we’re hoping to do is develop a flying museum here with the help of other aviation groups such as the Cradle of Aviation,” noted Hess.
“We tend to take this [the aerodrome] for granted but we want to make sure it remains how it is,” he added.
The aerodrome is currently home to about 30 private small bi-planes. Some are housed in massive hangars and others can be clearly seen tethered on the west side of the grass runway.
Tuesday’s civic meeting, held in the society's headquarters hangar, was of special significance given the association formed 10 years ago initially focused on helping protect the aerodrome.
“That was the genesis of how we began,” noted Civic Association President Bob Draffin, who has served as civic leader since the inception and who noted he has only missed one meeting of the 100 held in the past decade.
“The goal then was to make sure the Bayport Aerodrome stayed the aerodrome we all knew and loved and we all stepped in and got the federal lease extended and helped secure funding,” explained Draffin.
The Islip Town-owned airport, which does not allow commercial flights and boasts just one runway, is now on the Registry of Historic Places, noted Draffin.
“It’s a crown jewel of this community. My dad just to bring me here when I was a kid to see the gliders and it’s just near and dear to my heart,” said Draffin. “We want to make sure we keep this history alive.”