NAS Rockaway, NC-4 To Be Commemorated on May 8

The NC-4 took off from Jamaica Bay on its many-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean to England. The flight will be commemorated on May 8 at 1 p.m. with a ceremony at Riis Park.

The National Park Service will honor Naval Air Station Rockaway and the historic transatlantic flight of the NC-4, which took off from that station on May 8, 1919, 90 years ago next week.

The ceremony will be held at the Riis Park Bathhouse on Friday, May 8 at 1 p.m. The Naval Air Station Rockaway was located at what is now the Riis Park parking lot.

Present at the March 8 ceremony will be the Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy band, which will play the NC-4 March for the crowd. The event will also include photos from the flight and a presentation by Gateway National Recreation Area staff.

The ceremony is free and the public is invited to attend, NPS officials say.

The U. S. Naval Air Station, Rockaway, was built in 1917, shortly after America entered "The War to End All Wars," better known today as World War I. It was constructed on 94 acres of land leased from the City of New York that is now the site of Jacob Riis Park, a unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

The station faced Jamaica Bay with its back to the Atlantic Ocean.

It had a hangar for housing and maintaining HS-2 Flying Boats, another for the ubiquitous blimps and, built in 1918, a large (110 feet by 165 feet) hanger that was built to house two NC flying boats.

The NC seaplanes, designated as such for Navy Curtiss (the plane's builder), needed the larger hanger. In fact, a second NC hanger was authorized, but never built after the war ended.

While that created a problem for the other two NCs that wound up in Rockaway for the transatlantic flight, officers at the station solved the problem by keeping two of the planes anchored off Rockaway in Jamaica Bay while the other two were worked on by Navy mechanics.

NAS Rockaway was closed several years after the 1919 NC flights.

A later, larger base, NAS, New York, was then built across the bay at Floyd Bennett Field, which was once a small commercial airport.