Paying Tribute to the People Who Took Aviation
from the Flight Deck of a Navy Carrier to Man's First Steps on the Moon
The Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation filed as a corporation on December 5, 1929 and was soon operating out of a small converted automobile garage in Baldwin, New York. With ever increasing business, the need for a larger facility was paramount. On November 4, 1931 Grumman relocated to Curtiss Airport in Valley Stream. There they set up shop in a vacant Naval Reserve hangar, however in short order the company outgrew this facility as well and a search was on for yet another location.
That search ended in November 1932 when a lease was secured to occupy a building with adjoining manufacturing space located along Conklin Street in Farmingdale, New York. Previously used as a manufacturing facility (the Fulton Truck Company was housed there) the facility was taken over by Fairchild Aircraft in the 1920s. Fairchild constructed a grass airfield directly across the street, and two additional structures were constructed to the east. One of these housed the fledgling Seversky Aircraft Company (later Republic Aviation Corporation) and the Ranger Engine Company occupied the other.
In 1936, after leasing the various building to several airplane manufacturers, Fairchild was interested in selling the entire tract, which then included the Grumman and Ranger buildings as well as the airfield, to Seversky. Having occupied this site for several years, Grumman was once again feeling growing pains, and the timing could not have been better, so the search was on again for manufacturing space and further growth. This time instead of leasing another a site, 120 acres was purchased just a few miles west of Farmingdale. By April of 1937 the move to Bethpage was completed, and as they say "the rest is history".
Pictured (2nd Photo) is a detail of the previous photograph. Conklin Street can be see passing in front of the facility. The section of building with GRUMMAN painted on the roof was the final assembly area. Adjacent to it is where the subassemblies were fabricated. Corporate executive offices where located in the front where the windows are. The roof was of a saw tooth configuration utilizing skylights. This roof was damaged by a severe hailstorm in August of 1935 and was repaired by the factory employees.
Another notable, but sad, event at Farmingdale occurred in 1935 when test pilot Jimmy Collins was killed while testing the XF3F-1. This was the prototype for the soon to be successful line of F3F fighters for the Navy and Marine Corps, and the last series of biplane fighters Grumman ever produced. Collins crashed just yards away from the facility in a wooded area that is now the cemetery on the east side of New Highway.