Cradle of Aviation Museum Photos
The Cradle of Aviation Museum is located in Garden City, NY on Long Island.
The Cradle of Aviation Museum is a large aviation museum that focuses primarily on airplanes that were built on Long Island or in NY state or have some connection to either. The museum has an extensive collection of Grumman aircraft, including a Wildcat, Hellcat, Avenger, Tomcat, Panther, Tiger, Cougar, and others. Republic aircraft were also built on Long Island and Republic aircraft are well represented with 5 on display including the P-47 Thunderbolt and A-10 Warthog/Thunderbolt II. A really well done Waco CG4A Hadrian troop transport glider hangs from the ceiling. What is unique about this display is that the staff has filled it with mannequins dressed in D-Day era combat gear and the right hand side of the aircraft has the fabric removed so visitors can get a good look inside and at the glider's construction. Probably the museum's most significant exhibit is the Spirit of St. Louis Ryan NYP, a sister ship of the original plane flown by Charles Lindbergh on his historic Trans Atlantic solo flight. This Ryan NYP was built a year after the original and was expected to generate commercial sales of that model. It's in fantastic condition and said to be unrestored. A wing spar and wing to fuselage mounting hub were damaged during a move to the US from France after flying an air show. Since the repair of the spar would have required the removal of the wing fabric the museum decided to forgo the repairs and end the Ryan's flying career. The airplane is in great cosmetic shape and looks very much like the original. You can also get a good look at the pilot's forward viewing periscope that can stick out of the left cockpit side when the window is open.
The staff and volunteers in the Cradle of Aviation Museum were just great. The guys were very friendly and knowledgeable and quick to answer questions and offer interesting stories. They really go out of their way to make you feel welcome and seemed genuinely glad to see you. These guys love talking airplanes and the volunteers I spoke with were Veterans and some were ex Grumman employees as well.
One thing that is unique about this particular aviation museum is the skill and resourcefulness of their restoration staff. The museum didn't have a Grumman F2F so they MADE one from original blue prints. They didn't have a Brewster Buffalo (there is only one real Brewster Buffalo in existence today) so they MADE one. The Brewster Buffalo copy was so faithful to the original that the Danish government commissioned the Cradle Of Aviation Museum to build them another. Finland flew Brewster Buffalos against the Soviets in WWII and they had no examples to display in their own aviation museum.
You can visit the Cradle of Aviation Museum in New York State on Long Island in Garden City within 30-40 minutes of NYC depending on traffic If you are coming from outside the area via the Cross Bronx Expressway during the week, be prepared for heavy slow traffic. The museum has a cafeteria on site with the usual menu of fast food. If you bring your lunch be prepared to eat outside as they don't permit outside food in the cafeteria area. Most of the exhibits are on the main floor, and there is an elevator to the upper floor to get downward views of the exhibit aircraft so it is very handicap accessible. COAM has a nice gift shop with some neat T-shirt designs and hats and other items. I really liked the Republic Aircraft t-shirts. Hours vary according to time of year so be sure to visit the museum's website. Long Island is truly a cradle of aviation and the museum has a number of very historic aircraft to illustrate that point. Make the trip out there when you get a chance. They have some great aircraft which the staff has gone to great lengths to display impressively. They are rightly proud of their work and are more than happy to tell you about it and talk aviation. It's a great way to spend a day.