Hangar Theatre

Ithaca's Early Aviation History

Hangar Theatre

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: Ithaca Heritage


The Thomas brothers—W.T. Thomas and Oliver W. Thomas—came to Ithaca in 1914 and set up an aviation company. According to pilot and longtime aviation buff Charles L. Smith, they established a landing field on what was once a peach orchard on the west shore of the lake near the Inlet in 1916, making it the second-oldest airport in New York State. They ran a flying school from the field, which at that time was laid out as an aerodrome without any laid-out runways. By the 1920s, the field had become the Ithaca Municipal Airport. During the Depression, a Civil Works Administration project expanded the airport with asphalt runways and a two-story glass, steel, and cinder-block hangar. Huge crowds attended the September 17, 1934 opening of the airport, celebrated with fireworks and parachute jumps. The Hangar Theatre opened in this converted municipal airport hangar in 1975.

The Hangar Theatre continues to celebrate the building’s aeronautical past in many ways, from the name of our volunteer corps, PROPS, to the photo of Amelia Earhart in the theatre’s lobby. The Hangar’s logo features a red flag, the international navigational symbol for the letter “B” or “Bravo,” echoing the cries of delighted theatre audiences.

In addition to the Brindley Street plant, the city gave the Thomas brothers use of the area that is now Cass Park as a flying field. Many Thomas airplanes were tested there. When the Thomas-Morse Scout went into production, every tenth airplane was test flown from the runway in Cass Park.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Ithaca's Early Aviation History


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