Miller Army Air Field Historic District
|Location||New Dorp, Staten Island, New York, New York, United States|
|Area||3 acres (1.2 ha)|
|NRHP reference #||80000362|
|Added to NRHP||April 11, 1980|
It was named after Captain James Ely Miller (1883–1918), commanding officer of the 95th Aero Squadron in the Air Service of the AEF, who died in combat on March 9, 1918 over Rheims in World War I. He was the first United States aviator killed in action while serving with an American military aviation unit. Before World War I Miller had been vice president of the Columbia Trust Company of New York and manager of its Fifth Avenue office who trained at his own expense to earn his pilot's license and Reserve Military Aviator rating with the Governors Island Training Corps in 1916. He was also an organizer, along with Major Raynal Bolling, of the 1st Reserve Aero Squadron, the first unit of what would eventually become the Air Force Reserve Command.
When built in 1921, Miller Field was the only coastal defense air station in the eastern United States and was part of the network of fortifications around New York City. It was built on land formerly belonging to the Vanderbilt family. It had a grass runway (and was the last airport with a grass runway in New York City), ramps for seaplanes, and four hangars for planes. Miller Field was used for antiaircraft fire and training Coast Guard personnel. Miller Field closed as an airbase in 1969.
On December 16, 1960, a United Airlines Douglas DC-8 and a Trans World Airlines Lockheed Super Constellation collided just west of the field with the Constellation crashing into the northwest corner of the airport while the DC-8 crashed into Park Slope, Brooklyn. 134 were killed. The disaster was the worst airline disaster to that point.
In the documentary film, Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig (2015), the police recount the discovery, by a group of children at Oakwood Beach, at Miller Field, of a box containing the remains of Andre "Angel" Melendez, in March 1996. (American Justice reports the box was found in April 1996.) Melendez had been murdered by Alig and his roommate, Robert "Freeze" Riggs, his legs dismembered, and his upper body enclosed in a box they enjoined an unwitting taxi driver's help to transport and throw into the Hudson River, near Tunnel nightclub. A tropical storm helped propel the cork-lined, floating box to Staten Island.