The Montauk Airport, Montauk, New York

History

Montauk Airport, a private airport located on the very eastern end of Long Island, was conceived by Perry Duryea Jr. in 1957. Mr. Duryea, a lobster wholesaler and former NYS Assemblyman (now deceased) realized the value of a transient facility for private and commercial aircraft, and was able to secure the roughly 27 acres for the construction of a single, 3800 foot runway. Initial Shareholders in the corporation included Mr. Duryea's father, Perry Duryea Sr., and Edward Pospisil, a local contractor and realtor.

Once constructed, the airport would prove useful for Perry Jr. and others, as a quick means of accessing Montauk without hours of driving time. Perry Jr. kept his twin-engine Apache (later an Aztec) at a hangar near the runway, and would frequently fly to and from Albany for sessions of the New York State Legislature. Before the introduction of perimeter lighting for Runway 6/24, Mr. Duryea would call ahead to his family to illuminate the end of the runway with car lights, so that he could make a safe evening approach.

In the mid-sixties, Robert King of Trans-Caribbean Airways took over operation of the facility for several years, thereby expanding the charter flight arm of the facility. At the same time, pilots in the Northeast began to realize the appeal of the airport as a destination for nearby beaches and recreational fishing, and seasonal air traffic increased considerably. A free shuttle service (still operating today) would ferry pilots and their families to the County Park beaches at the north end of Runway 6, or to the Flying Fish restaurant across the street, now under the name of Rick's Crabby Cowboy.

Lenny Dick, a Montauk-based charter pilot, succeeded Bob King and managed the airport until Lenny's passing in 1994. Lenny ran Air East, and with his single-engine aircraft flew people from Montauk to points north, south, east and west. Helen Gil, current airport manager, took over daily operations after Lenny's death, and continues to run the airport today. Under Helen's supervision seasonal traffic continued to grow, and notables such as Robert Abplanalp (Precision Valve Co.), former President Richard Nixon, and singer Jimmy Buffett flew in and out of the facility.

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