Story by: Sgt. 1st Class Steven Petibone - 42 Combat Aviation Brigade. Public Affairs NCO
Dated: Thu, Oct 8, 2009
During the Spring of 1947, units of the 42nd Infantry Division, New York Army National Guard, were granted federal recognition. At that time, the infantry regiments and division artillery units were each assigned L-19 “Bird Dog” fixed-wing aircraft with two aviators and two maintenance personnel per aircraft. These aircraft were stationed at Miller Field, Staten Island.
In 1949, the 42nd Division aircraft and personnel were moved to Roosevelt Field, an airfield in Garden City, Nassau County, New York.
Originally named the Hempstead Plains Aerodrome, it was renamed in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt’s son, Quentin, who was killed in air combat during World War I. Roosevelt Field was the takeoff point for many historic flights in the early history of aviation, including Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 solo transatlantic flight. It was also used by other pioneering aviators, including Amelia Earhart and Wiley Post.
Roosevelt Field was used by the Navy and Army during World War II. After the war, Roosevelt Field reverted to a commercial airport until it closed on May 31, 1951
When Roosevelt Field closed in 1951, the 42nd again moved 40 National Guard L-19’s to Zahn’s Airport, Amityville, Long Island. In the 1950’s Zahn’s Airport became, at the
time, the largest privately-owned airport in America
An aviation section was organized and federally recognized on May 19, 1954 as the Light Aviation Section, Headquarters Company, 42nd Infantry Division, New York Army National Guard.
This section was again reorganized March 16, 1959 as the 42nd Aviation Company, 42nd Infantry Division at Huntington Station, Long Island, New York, with their aircraft based at Zahn’s Airport.
On April 15, 1963, the 42nd Aviation Company was reorganized as Headquarters and Headquarters Company and Company B, 42nd Aviation Battalion stationed at Freeport, Long Island. At that time, the battalion was equipped with 01A “Bird Dog” and U6 Beaver fixed wing aircraft.
However, on Oct. 10, 1968, reorganization again took place in which the Battalion was redesignated Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and Company B, 42nd Aviation Battalion. It was during this period that all aircraft previously assigned to the 42nd Division’s infantry and artillery brigades were placed under the control of the Battalion. This period also saw the phase out of the fixed-wing aircraft that was replaced by the OH-13 Sioux and OH-23 Raven helicopters.