Bader Field holds the distinction of being the first facility to be billed as an ‘airport.’ It will be home for a three-day music festival this June.
THE WRIGHT BROTHERS’ FIRST successful airplane flight was short (covering 120 feet) and brief (lasting 12 seconds). Still, Orville Wright’s journey on Dec. 17, 1903, assured a place in history for Kill Devil Hills, N.C.
It didn’t take long for Atlantic City to carve out its own niche in aviation history through the use of aerial attractions to lure visitors and the establishment of a local airport.
As a premier summertime resort in the early 1900s, the city served as the host of the Atlantic City Aero Meet in July 1910. Aviation was a novelty and the sky was the limit in terms of achievement. Glenn Curtiss made the first flight above the Atlantic Ocean and set a biplane record for distance, covering 50 miles in one hour, 21 minutes.
Walter Brookins broke the world record for flight altitude, climbing to a height of 6,175 feet. The show, which became a tradition that continues in the 21st century, attracted more than 400,000 people over a week.
The growth of aviation as a form of transportation led to the opening of an airport in Atlantic City on May 10, 1919. Initially it was referred to in the local press as the “flying field” or “aviation field.” The city acquired the site in 1922 and it became known as Bader Field, named for Mayor Edward L. Bader who served from 1920 until his death in 1927.
Bader Field holds the distinction of being the first facility to be billed as an airport, a takeoff on the word seaport and a term that would gain acceptance around the world. It also was the first municipal airport in the nation for land and seaplanes.
“The airport was another way of meeting the needs of the public,” says Allen “Boo” Pergament, Atlantic City historian.
Bader Field’s closeness to the major cities of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington helped to attract more visitors to Atlantic City, as it offered an alternative to auto and rail transportation. Presidents and former presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Gerald Ford all used the city’s airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Bader Field’s proximity to the city’s downtown and Boardwalk made it stand out from other airports in that regard. Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, who visited Bader Field in October 1927 during a national tour of the county to promote aviation after flying solo across the Atlantic Ocean, offered praise for the facility.
“The Atlantic City airport has good possibilities, and is in an ideal location to the city proper,” Lindbergh said at the time. “In fact, it is the best situated in that respect, I think, than any I have yet encountered.”
In its early years, Bader Field attracted some of the top aviators of the day. World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker brought Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart to Bader Field in 1931 to celebrate the naming of his company, Eastern Airlines, as the operator of the airport.
That same year, William G. Swan made history at Bader Field when he became the first person to fly a rocket-powered aircraft. Swan’s stunt was designed to attract more visitors to Steel Pier.
On a more serious note in 1934, Charles Alfred Anderson, considered the father of black aviation, and Dr. Albert E. Forsythe, made the first transcontinental trip by black pilots. The duo flew from Bader Field to Los Angeles and back, without the assistance of landing lights, radios or blind-flying instruments. The flight is credited with helping to popularize aviation in the black community.
Shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Bader Field served as a the founding base for the Civil Air Patrol, with its planes searching the Atlantic Ocean for Nazi submarines in order to allow military fighter planes to be better utilized. (The local group, after their planes were rigged with demolition bombs and depth charges, was the first to sink a German U-boat.)
Bader Field also has an athletic side to its history. Boxer Jack Dempsey trained and held public workouts there in the spring of 1921 before his heavyweight title fight with Georges Carpentier. The New York Yankees used the baseball fields at the airport for spring training in 1944 and 1945.
During its history, runways, a control tower and hangars were built. After the first casino opened in 1978, Bader Field faced challenges to stay open as more flights were shifted elsewhere where the runways were longer and could accommodate bigger planes.
Ultimately, the airport was shut down in September 2006 over protests from the pilots of small planes. Memories remain but the final chapter has yet to be written for the historic site. The Dave Matthews Band Caravan will touch down for a three-day music festival at the former airport in June.
"[Atlantic City's] location was really central. You’ve got good facilities, it’s not, you know, like 39 miles on some two-lane country road — that kind of vibe, you know, so it’s just the fact that it’s practical, there’s a lot of facilities and since we’re not doing like a camping thing we thought it would be good to be close to infrastructure so the fans do have like the backbone of a place like Atlantic City at their disposal."
We understand that a three-day hullabaloo like the Dave Matthews Band Caravan may bring folks to town who have never been here before, and may not have a clue as to what to do before and after the bands perform — or perhaps may want to take a break from the Bader Field confines to see or do something else.
In addition to the area’s beautiful beaches and busy boardwalks, as part of the scenic Garden State, southern New Jersey has a number of parks and picturesque wildlife reserves for you to explore as you re-discover the concept of ambulatory movement.
he two clubs planned a nine-game series and came up one short. Player-manager Joe Cronin, a future Hall of Famer and American League president, sent right-hander Rex Cecil to the mound to face the Yankees on March 29, and the winning Red Sox backed their second-year pitcher with a dozen runs in the opening exhibition game before a crowd of more than 5,000 at Bader Field.
The salesgirl had miscalculated. She had just come on duty, and here was this black woman standing before her on the main floor of Wanamaker's Department Store in Philadelphia. The woman was nicely dressed to be sure, but she was, after all ... well, she was someone who simply would have to wait while more important customers were served. Like the blue-haired dowager ogling a sea of sable. Or the smartly tailored secretary eyeing the latest silk blouses. They took priority, the salesgirl figured. But then her supervisor appeared and the rules suddenly changed. "Mrs. Washington," the supervisor greeted the black woman, who was well into middle age. "Back so soon?" "I'd like to get one more if I may," said Mrs. Washington, whose look of mounting anger had turned to irony. "Of course." Now the supervisor flashed daggers at the salesgirl. "Bring Mrs. Washington another mink, please. The same as the one on her sales slip from half an hour ago." No cash register was big enough for the salesgirl to hide in. The year was 1946, and while Sara Spencer Washington -- founder of a cosmetics empire -- could write a pair of thousand-dollar checks to the same department store on the same day...
In an era of reality TV and the cult of celebrity, we may find it difficult to fathom that a Miss America winner once fled from the spotlight at the very moment of her triumph. The pageant was more parochial back in 1937, when 17-year-old Bette Cooper emerged from a beauty contest in Lake Hopatcong, NJ as "Miss Bertrand Island" with a ticket to Atlantic City. She was an athletic, innocent, apple-cheeked blonde unprepared for the glare of publicity. They poured into town by rail, 51 aspiring Miss Americas with titles such as Miss Eastern Shore and Miss Buckeye Lake. The pageant assigned volunteer young men to chauffeur contestants in those days, and Bette Cooper drew 22-year-old Lou Off, whose father Frank owned the Brighton Hotel and a nursery business in Linwood. Off the Younger lived at the hotel and drove a maroon Buick Special convertible to work at his father's Brighton Farms. That Buick would soon turn from touring car to getaway car. Bette and her family settled into the Lafayette Hotel, and the high schooler stepped gingerly into the pageant's press luncheons and nightly competition. She was well versed in tennis, basketball, and churchgoing, but not in the brazen arts...
As in previous years, the Metropolitan Business & Citizens Association (MBCA) Winter luncheon kickoff event at Resorts in Atlantic City featured a keynote address — an unofficial state of the city address — by Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford.
The long awaited Request for Proposals (RFPs) for Bader Field are in the house: Atlantic City. It is anticipated that within the next three to five weeks the RFPs will be sent out to the marketplace ...
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