The East Hanover Airport
One reader asked what the old airport identification code was. That was a tough one to research, and by the time we found the answer (N58), his email address had changed so we were unable to get back to him. Perhaps he'll check back with us and finally get his answer!
Another reader asked about some news and history about the old airport. A gentleman by the name of Paul Freeman has a web page devoted to abandoned and little-known airports, and has a brief history of our beloved airport. You'll even find a copy of our photograph of the runway as it looks today on his site.
Rather than plagiarize the material on Paul's site, we prefer to link you directly to the source here.
The Daily Record of October 8, 1985 had an article by staff writer Joe Malinconico that described the closing of the airport. Apparently the owner was planning to build a 217,000 square foot office complex on the 53-acre site. One of the airport's licenses, issued by the FAA, had expired at the end of August, 1985, and the owner, Anthony V. Pugliese III refused to apply for renewal.
According to Udo Ottenfield, who had managed the airport for about six years, all planes at the airport would be removed by Friday, October 11. Ottenfield claimed that the airport had been losing money to the tune of $10,000 to $15,000 a year.
At its closing, the airport was the home of Eagle Flying Services, a flying school as well as aircraft salespeople and mechanics. There were also plane rentals available at the airport. It was usually home to about 75 small-engine planes.
According to the Daily Record, Pugliese had bought the land in 1984 from Ethel Steppel and Gertrude Tannenbaum. Tannenbaum's father had started the airport on his farm sometime between 1944 and 1949. The land was zoned residential at the time and a variance would have been required to build an office complex on the site. Pugliese apparently sent the township a letter stating his intentions to construct low-income housing on the site if his bid for an office complex was refused.
The ultimate fate of this property is still unsettled today.
Well, the airport's fate was unsettled when that was written. But now, it seems, we know what's in store for it.
On March 8, 2004, the Township Council passed an ordinance changing the zoning of the 52-acre airport from "residential" to "park".
The township has been in purchasing negotiations with the owners for several years, and plans to designate the area for "passive recreation" and to serve as a recharge area for the Whippany River. Apparently, the township is also considering smoothing out the sharp bend in Ridgedale Avenue at the corner of the airport.
A $2 million bond was approved last year to buy the airport, with the help of some Green Acres funding.
Despite that, the township is not in possession of the property, and is still in active negotiations with the owner, Richard Ullman.