Farmingdale New York’s Republic Airport and a Short History of Cosmopolitan Airlines
Written by Robert G. Waldvogel
Little-known and most likely long-forgotten is Cosmopolitan Airlines, a carrier which had briefly operated from Farmingdale, Long Island’s, Republic Airport. Republic was not originally intended for passenger-carrying commercial operations. The facility ultimately fielded sporadic scheduled and charter service in its century of existence.
“The Industrial Revolution and airplane manufacture came to Farmingdale during World War I when Lawrence Sperry and Sydney Breese established their pioneering factories in the community,” according to Ken Neubeck and Leroy E. Douglas in Airplane Manufacturing in Farmingdale. “They were drawn by the presence of two branches of the Long Island Railroad…the nearby Route 24, which brought auto and truck traffic to and from the Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge in Manhattan; the level outwash plain, which provided land for flying fields; and the proximity to skilled workers.”
Although the airport was progressively transformed from its original “Fairchild Flying Field” into the present Republic Airport, and is considered the third-busiest New York State facility in terms of aircraft movements, it was for the most part the location of military and civil manufacturers. These included the Fairchild Aviation Corporation, the American Airplane and Engine Corporation, Grumman, Seversky, Ranger, Republic, Fairchild-Hiller, Fairchild Republic, and EDO, to name only a few.
In 1966, a year after its ownership was transferred from Fairchild Hiller to Farmingdale Corporation, the airport was officially designated a general aviation facility, fielding its first landing of a twin-engine Beechcraft, operated by Ramey Air Service from Islip, on December 7. In order to transform it into a gateway by facilitating airline connections at the three major New York airports, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority contracted with Air Spur to provide this feeder service four years later, assessing $12 one-way fares.
Republic Airport’s central Long Island location also poised it to be the site of other limited service to key business and leisure destinations within neighboring states.
One of the first scheduled attempts was made by Republic-based Cosmopolitan Airlines, an FAR Part 121 supplemental air carrier that inaugurated service with a single 44-passenger, former Finnair Convair CV-340 and two 52-passenger, ex-Swissair Convair CV-440 Metropolitans. Both of these types were in four-abreast configuration, and flights began to Albany, Boston, and Atlantic City from its own Cosmopolitan Sky Center in 1978.
An unusual ad advised potential passengers to “Fly to Atlantic City for only $19.95 net. Here’s how it works: Pay $44.95 for a round-trip flight ticket to Atlantic City, including ground transportation to and from the Claridge Hotel and Casino. Upon arrival at the Claridge, you’ll receive $20.00 in food and beverage credits good at any restaurant except the London Pavilion. You will also receive a $5.00 flight credit good for your next fight to the Claridge on Cosmopolitan Airlines.”
The airline’s 1983 schedule for the 36-minute flight to Atlantic City’s no-longer existent Bader Field included the following:
Hand-written paper tickets, issued to each passenger and listing the routing as “FRG-ACY-FRG,” stated: “Flight coupon valid only on the Cosmopolitan flight listed on the unshaded portion hereof.”
Same-day returns potentially provided for nine hours in Atlantic City. Although these flights were popular, they hardly generated a profit. Cosmopolitan Airlines was forced to discontinue its operations at the end of 1983. Just prior to the shut-down the carrier had been in the process of expanding public charter service to Buffalo, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore.
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