August 19, 2014

Awesome Vintage Aviation Photos: Welcome to New York!

(Editor’s note: Welcome to Time Travel Tuesday, a nine-part series celebrating the airports, airlines, and aircraft of yesteryear, through the vintage aviation photos of William J. Armstrong. In Part One and Part Two, we explored the airports of the Midwest, while Part Three explored the airports of the Western United States. Then we went international, with Canada in Part Four, and Europe in Part Five. In Part Six and Part Seven, we toured airports along the East Coast. Now, we have finally arrived in New York. This week, we explore the two airports of Northern Queens: LaGuardia and Flushing.) 

It is indeed an honor to introduce this series of aviation photos taken by my good friend William J. Armstrong. Our friendship spanned almost a half century, and blossomed because of our common interest in aviation. As time went on, we found common interests in many things, and at one time our professional careers crossed paths and I had the privilege of working with Bill.

We see Bill here because of his aviation photography, and he was among the few who would spend time at an airport for the sole purpose of taking photos of airplanes and observing operations. Bill began doing this during the late 1950s, and continued into the start of the Jet age. His photos are a look back in time, to when propellers were the order of the day, and when you walked across an often oil stained tarmac to your waiting plane. In those days, weather radar and instrument landing systems were the latest revolutionary developments in air travel.

Bill was interested in aviation, but in actuality if it moved he was interested. His knowledge of transportation systems, whether they traveled by rail, air, sea, or road, were legendary to his friends and fellow professionals. He also had keen interests in history, classical music, opera, swimming, travel, and the list goes on. He was a graduate of Columbia University, and Iona College with a masters degree. But for all his varied interests, Bill was always a humble person, never once forgetting the friends he met along the way.

Click to enlarge photos

Flushing Airport (FLU)


Picture 1 of 3

In the 1960s, Goodyear would moor their blimps at Flushing Airport. The blimps were used for aerial shots of Mets games at Shea Stadium.


LaGuardia Airport (LGA)



Picture 1 of 43

Though this photo was taken in September of 1969, one could easily think that it was much more recent. These vintage American Airlines signs were never replaced as the airlines logo changed.

This collection was curated by NYCAviation Associate Editor Ben Granucci. All images are copyright John F. Ciesla, all rights reserved.

About the Author

John F. Ciesla



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  • deetelecare

    Thanks for the wonderful LGA photos and vintage propliners–how LGA was. I was privileged to work at LGA for New York Air in the 1980s–that leadoff photo is the exterior Hangar #5 and my old (and last) NYA office was the farthest right window with the perilously hanging air conditioner! New York Air leased most of the Hangar #5 space from American, including the res center upstairs. That space was part of the AA original HQ at the airport built in the 1930s–that signage is at least 1940s and still gorgeous. Reportedly the CRC office (in the center) was C.R. Smith’s office and mine was his secretary’s–we jammed about 10 people in those two offices! Many, many good memories reside there.

    And thank you for remembering there once was a ‘little airline that could’ called New York Air. That photo with the DC-9-30s is the first livery which was happily being replaced when I joined in 1983. Our alumni wound up everywhere in aviation and travel, including a recent CEO of JetBlue, Dave Barger.

    I sincerely hope that there will be an effort to conserve some of the original structures and signage at LGA. That AA sign is a gem and if it can’t stay at LGA should go to the AA/CR Smith Museum in Fort Worth.

    Donna Cusano, ad manager NYA ’83-’86