The Casey Jones School of Aeronautics

Charles “Casey” Jones was a aviation pioneer. By the time he established his aeronautics school in 1932 he had 22 years of aviation experience. He was a pilot during World War I, he held transport license number 13 from the Civil Aeronautics Administration and had been President of Curtiss-Wright flying Service. World famous by the time he founded the school, his vast experience in providing aviation instruction was unrivaled. He was uniquely qualified to lead the school he created.

Things were moving along pretty well in Newark and the school had an average enrollment of 400 students. The school was located at 534 Broad Street, the current home of Berkeley College. Field training was done at Newark Airport. Then in 1940 Mayor LaGuardia opened the airfield that bears his name in Queens, New York. He wanted an aeronautics school for his new airport. Long story short he convinced Casey to pull up stakes and come to New York. Jones was soon followed by five of Newark’s seven airlines. The final blow was when the post office made LaGuardia the metropolitan mail hub. Newark Airport staggered and closed to regroup. In, 1942, the Army took over the airport and by 1948 the Port Authority of NY & NJ had taken over the facility. Newark’s early role in  the history of aviation became a footnote.

P.S. The Casey Jones School of Aeronautics now known as Vaughn College of Aeronautics still exists in Queens by LaGuardia Airport.IMG_2461IMG_2462IMG_2465IMG_2467

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17 thoughts on “The Casey Jones School of Aeronautics

  1. My father in law bob Hawkins went to this school in 1943. Talks about the Aleutian islands as if yesterday. Very interesting!

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    1. My father, Paul Sundermier, also completed his A&P for the P-39 and it may have been in 1943 and he also went to Alaska. He wound up becoming a flight engineer on C-47 flying the Aleutians and they crashed flying to Fort Randall (Cold Bay now) on the Cathedral Valley glacier, March 1945. Ask your father in law if he happened to know my father. I have some photos of the “trainees” from the Army Air Corps in front of the school.

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  2. I worked for an alumni of Casey Jones but don’t know when he was there or if the school had moved to LaGuardia by that time. He was Wm. L. Tenney, graduating CJ with honors. He entered the USAAF and became a crew chief on B-24s, winding up at Wright Field where he remained until the end of WW II.
    He started a small company (Aeromarine, no connection with Uppercu’s earlier firm,) and hired an old friend, Charles B. Marks, to help in Bill’s development of improved 2-stroke engines. Charlie heard an operating, captured V-1 Buzz Bomb across the highway at Wright, went over to see more, then returned to Tenney’s shop and created the first of what became the Dyna-Jet, miniature pulsejet for model airplanes.
    Both are now gone but I was given much material about Aeromarine by Bill’s widow, Patty, at their home near Minneapolis. She, too, has died but I have met and corresponded with their son, David. I’m trying to complete a book about the Dyna-Jet and its spin-offs, Dyna-Fog products. Bill sold his original business to Russell R. Curtis, in 1952. Curtis is also gone but his business is well-known and remains active, having become Curtis Dyna-Fog, Ltd. of Indiana.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to add this comment. It’s people sharing “lost history” such as this that make history websites worthwhile. I do have a 1941 Casey Jones brochure that is far more extensive than the one I posted. At that time the school at LaGuardia was already opened.

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  3. My father, Edward J Czupryk (later Cooper when we had our name changed) talked frequently about Casey Jones. He was born and raised in Newark, the third of four children, and the second son. Dad graduated Columbia High school in 1937, I believe and must have started at Casey Jones in Newark in ’37 or ’38, since it is highly unlikely his father would have taken him all the way to what was shortly to become Laguardia. However, it was clear that he graduated across from Laguardia Field. He got his A&P certification after de-bugging a DC-3 and taking the written test, if I remember his story correctly, along with Robert Dowd, who I believe were working as a team. Bob Dowd went on to become a FE for TWA, and he and Dad were lifetime fast friends. He talked about troubleshooting one engine and getting it going, repairing a hole in one of the elevator panels, chasing several electrical “bugs” that were rigged into the plane by the instructors, replacing a hydraulic line and actuator (landing gear I think) and demonstrating some basic sheetmetal repair.

    While finishing up at Casey Jones, Dad designed and fabricated a two-part roll-around tool box similar to what you can purchase at any tool shop today. Typical of Dad, he asked his sheet metal instructor, if he could make the chest after he started it. The design must have intrigued his instructor, because he was given permission, and in exchange for Dad’s blueprints for the tool chest, he was allowed the cost of the sheet metal from the school’s shop. The removable top chest has a shallow tray about 2″ deep on the top and five drawers below that can all be secured with a double-hinged lid/cover. The bottom roll-around part has six drawers and an open storage space about 12″ high on the bottom, and is secured with two latched and locking doors. the interior and drawers are all painted in light brown primer, and the exterior is various layers of paint used on TWA birds over the years. Dad made everything, knobs, handles, hinges, etc., himself, except the two recessed locks (I still have the keys for both) and the wheels, which he says have been replaced at least twice over the years. He used it for years at TWA at Laguardia and later at Idelwilde/JFK and when he moved up to management, the tool box came home where it was part of his workshop. I acquired it when he moved into assisted living several years ago. I have yet to get into the U.S. Patent Office archives, but I could have the prototype or at least a very, very early copy of the now ubiquitous roll-around tool chest.

    True to the letter of encouragement from Casey Jones, he and his buddy walked into the TWA hangar at Laguardia the afternoon they graduated from Casey Jones, and they both got hired on the spot. Bob Dowd was told to start that night, and Dad was told to come in the next morning for day shift. Dad worked for TWA for 42 years, retiring as station grave shift aircraft maintenance supervisor for TWA at JFK.

    Dad got a leave of absence from TWA to join the Army Air Corps in 1940. TWA gave him a gold-backed engraved wrist watch as he left (I still have the watch, and it still works!) and he went on to fly B-17s as a copilot until shot down in April of 1942. He wore that watch on missions, setting his TWA watch on local time and his U.S.A. issue watch on Zulu time. For some unknown reason, when he was being interrogated by the Germans prior to internment at Stalag Luft I in Barth, Germany, his issue watch was confiscated, but the Germans allowed him to retain his TWA watch, but that is another story.

    Does anybody have any idea where the roll-around tool chest came from, or was the first one blueprinted at Casey Jones?

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    1. Ward,

      It was interesting to read your comment about your Dad de-bugging a landing gear problem (among others) on a DC-3 for a Casey Jones exam. My Dad may have learned the same de-bugging at Casey Jones. He was trained there as an A&P and worked on P-39s in Alaska (they were sending them to Russia) but became a flight engineer on C-47s in Alaska in ’44 – ’45. He told me that he had to remove a floor panel one time when the landing gear would not go down due to a hydraulic failure but then the mechanical back-up would not work. He found that a cable had become stuck and managed to free it so that they could lower the gear with a winch. When they got back to Elmendorf (I think) he was interviewed and required to write a service bulletin showing how to fix the “C-47 landing gear problem.”

      Sorry I don’t know about the rolling tool chest origins. I, of course, have one in my “shop.”

      Paul Sundermier

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      1. Dad was a pretty amazing guy. He passed away last July at the fine old age of 97. When he passed, he was the oldest/most senior employee in the company — or former company. The guy who was #2, used to call Dad up every year or so to see if he was still alive. 🙂

        Guys like our Dads were probably the last of the mechanics. Planes were simpler then and they understood how they worked, and knew how to fix them when the tech manual ran out of ideas. They carried that with them into the jet age, and with the additional schooling that I know my Dad got with the Connie, Convair 880, and the Boings over the years they could fix planes. We tend to train box- and component-swappers today, and the aircraft are so complex the basic A&P is a thing of the past. Paul, that’s why your Dad was able to fix that “Gooney Bird” – he knew the airplane.

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  4. My father, Harold Baldauf, graduated from the Casey Jones School in April 1944. He worked as a merchant mariner for more than 25 years, becoming Chief Engineer with United States Lines.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. The Casey Jones School post has elicited many comments such as yours. The education they gave must have been very good, and their students, such as your father- exceptional. I appreciate you taking the time to post a comment.
      John Lipari

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  5. My father was influenced by Casey in 1928 in Syracuse New York. Casey gave a lecture on the opportunities in aviation. My father went home from that meeting and told his parents he was no longer going to Niagara University but was going to enroll in a technical school for aircraft engines and airframes. In 1940 my father was the test pilot and instructor at Franklin air Cool Motors in Syracuse New York. In in 1940, my father took Igor Sikorsky and Alexander deSeversky for a demonstration flight of the Franklin air-cooled motor. My father was part of a demonstration team that set a endurance record at the New York State Fair in Syracuse New York in 1938 with a total time of 106 hours of continuous flight in a Piper Cub. My father went on to become the chief test pilot for the Navy at the Naval Air Station in Trenton New Jersey working directly for Harry F Guggenheim. My son Grant is 21 and currently completing his requirements for his private pilot license. He is a 3rd Generation Aviator. Consequently, I owe a lot of thanks to Casey Jones. So glad you came Syracuse and 1928 to share your vision.

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  6. My husband’s grandfather is Richard Whatham–the dean of this school. Thank you so much for this blog post. We really enjoyed learning about this school! Do you have any other information about the Casey Jones School of Aeronautics?

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    1. The course bulletin is actually quite informative. I only posted small sections. If you are ever in the Newark, NJ area feel free to contact me. I can show you the buildings where the school was and the program bulletins.

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  7. My mom (Maud Genung Gubernat) and dad (John Gubernat) graduated East Side High in Newark in June 1943. Dad served in the 95th Infantry Division receiving a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Mom trained at Casey Jones (not sure if in Newark or NY and learned how to assembly aircraft to help the war effort. My dad always kidded Mom saying “That’s why we almost lost the war.” I was proud of both of them!
    John Gubernat III

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