When Uticans Flew: A Look Back on Aviation in Oneida County
Perhaps you're old enough to remember when Utica had its own airport. Not having to drive to Albany or Syracuse to jump on a plane seems so alien at this point. It's hard to imagine that you could've just hopped on over to Whitestown to get in the air.
It's been 15 years since the Oneida County Airport closed the Whitestown location. The airport had two runways and covered roughly 1,800 acres of land, which is now being used as a business park.
In its heyday, Oneida County Airport served as a public airport for the Mohawk Valley. In the early '80s it flew an average of 58 planes a day, mostly commuter flights to various northeastern cities. There was an onsite restaurant, as well as a hotel, known as the Horizon.
The two primary airlines that served the Oneida County Airport were Mohawk Airlines and Empire Airlines, now both defunct. Both airlines were eventually absorbed by US Airways (formerly USAir) who in turn merged with American Airlines.
Mohawk Airlines operated out of Ithaca until moving to Oneida County in 1958. It was the first airline to use a reservation system using computers and the first to hire an African-American flight attendant.
UTICA MUNICIPAL AIRPORT
The Oneida County Airport is not to be confused with the Utica Municipal Airport, which operated during the '30s and '40s on River Road in Marcy-- now the site of the Walmart Distribution Center.
ROBINSON AIRLINES CRASH OF 1950
On Monday, September 4th, 1950, Robinson Airlines flight 32 left Ithaca for New Jersey, via Syracuse and Utica. The flight arrived in Utica as planned. But soon after takeoff, at approximately 3,000 feet from the point of takeoff, debris was observed falling from the left engine. The aircraft veered left and descended into a grove of trees, 1.5 miles southeast of the airport. Following the impact with the trees, the fuel tanks ruptured and caused a fire, killing 16 of the 23 occupants on board.
Maybe you're one of the lucky few who remember flying in and out of Utica. Or maybe you just liked to ride your bikes up to the fence to watch the planes. Either way, it sure would be nice to have an airport again.