Sunday, July 25, 2010

Buffalo's First International Airport - The Outer Harbor!

Buffalo-Toronto Airplane Service to Be Opened  Today.  Giant Passenger Air Liner to Fly From Local Harbor Over Lake, River, Cataract to Canada

Courier Express June 29, 1929
  Inaugurating the first international aerial passenger service out of Buffalo, a giant amphibian air liner of the Colonial Western Airways, will take off from Buffalo Harbor this morning to wing its way to Toronto---another link in the city's chain of air lane contacts. At 9:50 o'clock the big twin motored carrier will glide down the ramp from the new terminal at the foot of Georgia St. with a full load of private passengers and newspapermen...  The take off will be witnessed by prominent city officials and others. Traveling to Niagara Falls, the big ship will circle the cataract before continuing to Lewiston, from where it will fly across Lake Ontario to Toronto Harbor, the trip taking 45 minutes. 
   The service will be a regular travel route with a morning and afternoon trip daily. the schedule is designed to make connections with the important trains out of Buffalo as well as Toronto. The ships that will be in permanent service over the run are two Sikorsky amphibians, which have been Christened Neekah and Nonokas. Ten passenger carriers, they are ultimate in luxurious appointment and safety and capable of being brought down with equal ease on land or water...

Buffalo Evening News   June 29 1929

Air-Minded Watch First 
Buffalo-Toronto Passenger Airline Take Off


Covers distance between two cities in 45 minutes flying time.  Eight passengers carried on first trip are enthusiastic over flight

Courier-Express  June 30 1929
      With a deafening roar and an angry churning of the waters, the Hummingbird, known in the Indian dialect of Tamigani as Nonokas, skimmed over the Niagara River yesterday morning as the clock pointed to 11:05 and took off on the maiden voyage of the passenger air line route of Colonial Western Airways, between Buffalo and Toronto.  Just 45 minutes later the giant Sikorsky amphibian, after an exciting and momentous trip filled chock full of scenic wonders, pointed it's nose down over beautiful Toronto Island, whizzed by the spar of a sailing boat, and taxied up to the Toronto Harbor Dock.....

Crowds  Await  Start      

   In both cities the start of the passenger airline service was an event.  In Buffalo crowds hailed the start of the initial cruise, lining the temporary ramp at the foot of Georgia St. at an early hour and waiting an watching with interest as workers tugged to get the great airfish floated.  Passengers for the first flight arrived at the Buffalo starting place promptly at 9:30 o'clock, and nearly 500 persons attended the start. 

     First Passengers

  Passengers on the maiden trip were: Mr. and Mrs. George N Crouse of Syracuse, veteran air passengers and first-flighters: Cyrus Coffman, John Daniels Jr. of the Hotel Statler; H. Ralph Badger and representatives of the Buffalo press, Stephen B Kane of the Buffalo Times; Charles Mickey of the Buffalo News, and Miss Anne Murray McIlhenney of the Buffalo Courier Express. Piloting the trip was Charles H. Maris, a young flier of the Colonial Western Airways, who has piloted the air mail for quite some time..... The airline inaugurated yesterday will operate daily and holidays on the following schedule:  Leave Buffalo 9:50 a.m., arrive Toronto 10:35 a.m.;  Leave Buffalo 5 p.m., arrive Toronto 5:45 p.m.: Leave Toronto 11:15 a.m., arrive Buffalo 12 noon; Leave Toronto 6:30 p.m., arrive Buffalo 7:15 p.m.


Buffalo Evening News   July 16 1929



    When the Sikorsky amphibian, Neekah, rolled up the landing ramp at the foot of Georgia St. Wednesday evening at 7:15 o'clock, she carried 600 lbs of mail matter from Toronto---the first international shipment over the Buffalo-Toronto route of the Colonial Western Airways.....The mail was specially stamped and more than 2000 flight covers were received at the Buffalo Post office commemorating the inauguration of the new line, according to government officials......

 EDITORS NOTE:  Wandering around Lasalle Park did you ever notice that concrete ramp going into the water at the south end of the park, between the park and where the high rise condos begin? Most people assumed it to be a boat launch.   In reality, it was Buffalo's first International Airport!
Aerial view of ramp in 1932

Ramp viewed from Lasalle Park
Ramp view looking north
(Click here)


Frank Broughton said...

good bit of info... was just neat hat ramp two weeks ago,

Unknown said...

The Sikorsky S-38 was built in Stratford, CT. Igor Sikorsky went on to build other successful "flying boats as well. Consolidated Aircraft of Buffalo, New York also built a number of "flying boats" until Consolidated moved to San Diego, CA in 1935. Visit the Niagara Aerospace Museum for more information on the rich history of aviation in Buffalo, New York.