The tin’s been moving over Kensington since I was a kid looking out my bedroom window. The flight path is exactly the same and has never moved. On any Sunday night you can count upwards to a dozen Jet lights stretching from Brooklyn through Staten Island and into New Jersey.
In the early 60’s there were probably more prop planes than jets. I would sometimes sit with my Dad on the couch and try to make out the tail markings with my telescope. Pan Am, Eastern, United, TWA. Just about when they reached Ocean Parkway you could see the landing gear start to come down and the planes would usually disappear over the apartment buildings before the wheels were fully in position.
We also had these strange “whirly birds” too; they were double bladed helicopters that used to land at LaGuardia along with the planes and jets. I believe they came out of Newark, but I was never quite sure. I know at one time they used to land at the top of the Pan Am building, now the Met Life building in the city. The gigantic “whirly birds” seemed to end their flights over my house around the same time they ended them in the city. One of them had a horrible accident on the top of the Pan Am building in Manhattan, killing some people on the roof and down below on Vanderbilt back in the early 70’s.
I think I was too young to remember seeing the wounded United DC-8 fly overhead on fire before it crashed in Park Slope in 1960. But according to my Mom, I was home at the time and may have seen it if I was staring out the back window as usual. And I can’t tell you the hundreds of dreams I have had in my lifetime, about seeing a jet on fire flying over my house.
I would have been almost three at the time, but I can’t really say I remember seeing that Jet before it crashed.
I had to spend New Years Day this year at the emergency room with my wife at Methodist Hospital in Park Slope. After about twelve hours they finally discharged her. On the way out we passed by the Chapel in the hospital. There’s a plaque on the wall outside the Chapel that’s dedicated to the memory of a little boy that initially survived that Jet crash. Only to die a day later of severe burns. They bronzed all the change the kid had in his pocket, and attached it to the plaque. His name was Stephen Baltz.
And as far as seeing that Jet fly over my house in 1960 before it crashed in Park Slope. I hope it was just a dream and nothing more.