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Somerset Hills Airport

In 1932, Somerset Hills Airport was dedicated, and a commemorative envelope marked the occasion. Postmarked in Basking Ridge, it went airmail of course!

The airport was located on the east side of South Maple Avenue at the corner of Lord Stirling Road. The facility was built on the former Walter E. Fenner (1885-1965) property.

A fire in February 1980 destroyed the hanger, which was not insured, and four airplanes (Bernardsville News, Feb. 14, 1980, p. 8). The property was subsequently sold to a housing developer.

Bernardsville News/New Jersey Hills Media Group, Jun. 27, 1968, p. 2

Comments

  1. I grew up on Hill Top Road, situated at the back of the airfield, separated by some woods from a grass runway that used to operate in addition to the main runway. We used to sneak up to the runway and watch the planes land and take off from there. We had to always look out for the “white Volkswagen” with Mr. Calvin the owner of the airport, patrolled the grounds in. We even got picked up one time and taken home lol. What memories. I remember Al Kovites, one of the guys who had a plane there. Shame it is no longer there.

  2. My dad, Harold J. Dobbs, flew airplanes out of this airport in the 1930’s. He was one flight short of his private pilot’s license and he had to choose between paying for that or buying a ring to marry my mother. All us kids are glad he bought the ring. đŸ™‚ When cleaning out his shop in 1996 I found his pilot record book with all his flights and hours logged in it.

    Dad told me that they used to fly from this airport up to where they manufactured Piper Cubs in Pennsylvania to pick up new planes. Sometimes they’d get there late in the day and it would be dark on the field below them and they’d have get someone on the ground to turn on the lights so they could land.

    He told me another story of flying out to Long Island to the Polo Fields to pick up a plane and bring it back to Basking Ridge. The owner had flown out there but was grounded due to bad weather and used ground transportation to get back home. It was raining and the folks at the Polo Fields turned on a huge spotlight at the end of the runway to guide them in. He said the field was muddy and their brakes didn’t work so they skidded down the field and their prop was only a few feet from the spotlight when they finally got stopped. He thought sure they were going to crash. The return trip to Somerset Hills the next day was not as perilous.

    In the 1960’s I remember going over to this airfield and picking up the carcass of an old airplane. We hauled it over to Pottersville, into the fields behind our house, what was then part of the Fales (sp?) Estate. We set it up as a downed aircraft and I played a victim of a crash because I knew how to find the “wreck” site, and I was a skinny kid, easy to carry on a stretcher. There was a big Boy Scout “search and rescue” drill done around this, dozens and dozens of kids from the Watchung Hills Council as I recall. There are a few big houses built back in those fields now. I wonder if anyone removed the wrecked fuselage or if it’s still laying out there. I know it was there as late as 1995 when I took a walk out there and found it.

    Stories, stories, stories… Thanks for this site, it’s good to remember. đŸ™‚

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