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Friday, July 25, 2014
Parrish makes his mark on aviation history
(Page 2 of 3)
Courtesy Guy Ferrara
Gabe Parrish, vice president of the Valley Stream Historical Society, has made significant contributions to the preservation of aviation history on Long Island.

He constructed a model of the Columbia J2F6 “Duck” and donated the model to the Valley Stream Historical Society. This model is now on lease to the Cradle of Aviation Museum. In 1944, while working at Columbia Aircraft (now the site of Home Depot near the Green Acres Mall), Gabe observed the landing of a “Duck” which had been on a test flight over Valley Stream. The landing appeared to be perfect but when it came to a stop, the plane immediately tilted and rested on the lower left wing float. The emergency siren went off and Gabe quickly jumped on the emergency truck. While riding to the plane, the landing gear foreman was very worried that the landing gear had collapsed. When they reached the plane, the test pilot, John Miller, was standing in the cockpit. His first words were, “Calm down, fellows, it’s all my fault. I forgot to let down the landing gear.”

Gabe took his first instruction flight at the Tri-State Airport in Montgomery, N.Y. in 1944.

In January 1993, there were still six airport hangars in Valley Stream. Above each of these hangars was an emblem showing a monoplane flying through clouds. The size of the emblem was nine feet by six feet and weighed 6,100 pounds. In June 1993, word was received that two of the hangars were about to be demolished to make room for Home Depot. Gabe contacted Marge Chvatal, who was president of the Valley Stream Historical Society at that time, to see if the society would be interested in obtaining one of those emblems. Marge replied “yes,” and Gabe contacted the Home Depot Community Affairs Division in Atlanta. After explaining his request, Home Depot helped with the retrieval of the large emblem.

Bay Crane Service of Hicksville had a crane at the demolition site, and Hendrickson Brothers of Valley Stream donated a flat bed truck to deliver the emblem to the Pagan-Fletcher Restoration on Hendrickson Avenue on June 24, 1993.

Gabe began digging three-foot deep footings to encase the “I” beams that would support the emblem. He spent the whole summer of 1993 working on the installation. The historical site now has a wonderful memento of aviation history in Valley Stream, thanks to Gabe Parrish.

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