STRATFORD Curtiss hangar to be restored
STRATFORD — The old Curtiss hangar on the Main Street side of Sikorsky Memorial Airport, where the likes of Amelia Earhart, Howard Hughes and Charles Lindbergh used to hang out, will soon be restored thanks to a $1 million grant from the state.
“The state finally came through for us,” said Mark E. Corvino, vice president of the Connecticut Air and Space Center, which plans to turn the hangar into a tourist attraction complete with a restored Chance-Vought F4U Corsair World War II fighter-bomber, a replica of the Gustave Whitehead 1901 flyer and a vintage Sikorsky S-60 helicopter.
The Corsair is the aircraft that used to sit atop a pedestal at the entrance to the airport; it’s being restored by the center. The S-60 is an early variant of the Sikorsky Skycrane helicopter, another restoration project of the center. And Whitehead’s 1901 airship replica was built by Andrew Kosch, an instructor at Platt Technical High School in Milford.
“There will be other interesting aircraft in there as well,” Corvino said. “That’s where all of our restored, completed aircraft will go.”
In 2015, the city of Bridgeport, which owns the airport, agreed to lease the hangar to CASC for $1 a year. The weather beaten hangar was slated for demolition several times over the years and was spared only by the fact that Bridgeport never allocated money to pay for the wrecking ball.
“The grant for their hangar expansion will help them more fully realize their vision for showcasing that cherished history,” said Mayor Laura Hoydick. “I am pleased to have worked in concert with our state legislative delegation and the State Bond Commission for this grant.”
The mayor, a former state representative from Stratford, credited the current Hartford delegation from Stratford including Rep. Joe Gresko, D-121; Rep. Phil Young, D-120; Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-21, and Rep. Ben McGorty, R-122.
But Corvino said that there’s a lot that needs to be done to get the space ready for aviation enthusiasts.
“It needs a new roof deck and roofing, and a lot of windows need replacing,” he said. “But it’s a great chapter of aviation history — Howard Hughes, Amelia Earhart — and Lindbergh worked there for a few years on the Corsair project.”