There will be a celebration at Marcy Field on Saturday, May 19th to commemorate the 1938 first air mail flight in the Adirondacks. The event will begin at 10:30. Bob Rose will take off at 11 a.m. in his 1949 Piper Clipper. There will be an exhibit in the Holt House focusing on Marcy Field and its role in the life of the Town. Refreshments will be available. A table will be set up at the site where people can join the Town of Keene Historical Society and get their membership card stamped with a rubber stamp replica of the 1938 Cachet, developed by the Board of Trade. Additional aspects of the celebration are under development.
The Historical Society welcomes the loan of Marcy Field photographs and information on the Board of Trade for this event.
The Town of Keene Historical Society (open to all) is sponsoring the event to draw attention to the rich history of this Town, and Marcy Field’s central role in that history.
Although newspaper accounts of the time refer to this flight as the 20th anniversary of National Air Mail Week, it was a first for the Adirondacks. According to the Record-Post “the bag of mail consisted of eight hundred letters brought from the neighboring post offices of Keene Valley, Lake Placid, AuSable Forks, Upper Jay, Jay, Elizabethtown and Lewis. All were brought to Keene and put in one bag by Mr. F. S. Russell, Postmaster from Keene, who dispatched and took the mail to the airport accompanied by Major Chamberlin.”
The 1938 event took place on a Thursday. The Town of Keene was notable for bringing its children to the airfield to witness this event. Children from the Keene school were driven to the airport in cars donated by Mrs. Hickey, Mrs. Hartson, Miss Estes and Hubert Nye. The Keene Valley school children arrived in school buses.
There were anxious moments in the morning for the large crowd gathered at the airport that day as the weather looked “very unfavorable.” But the skies cleared and Dr. Goff was able to take off in his 1937 Aeronca at 12:57 p.m. Daylight Savings time.
PosTmaster General James Farley was the driving force behind the National celebration of the twentieth Anniversary. Of the 90 pilots who participated nationwide, six were women. Alma Harwood-known as the Flying Grandma-was New York’s female representative. Dr. Howard G. Case of Syracuse, was the only other physician among the New York pilots. One New York plane crashed in Lowville but no one was injured. It completed the route later in the day.
Among the events organized to dramatize the flight was a race between four carrier pigeons and an Eastern Airlines flight from Washington D.C. to NYC. The pigeons landed one-half hour before the plane. Livingston, Montana pitted a pony express of 12 horses against the plane in an 118-mile trip to Billings. It took the horses 11 hours and 50 minutes, it took the plane 40 minutes.