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X' Marks the spot in Cicero history

Cicero's 80-year-old landing strip closes officially

An "X" marks the spot of the end of an era in Cicero aviation history. Michael Field, in existence as an airport for 80 years has been officially closed. It was one of Central New York's oldest landing strips.

In the last week, three enormous yellow Xs were painted on the runway. The markings are required by the Federal Aviation Administration to mark permanently closed runways.

In 1929, Robert C. Hayes purchased 100 acres of the Crowell farmstead on Route 11 less than one mile north of the Four Corners in Cicero and opened the Hayes Airport.

A former Navy pilot, Lt. Cmdr. William Michael, purchased the airport in 1950 and he operated it for more than forty years. Michael had three sons and a daughter who all learned to fly. One son, Timothy S. Michael, served as a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam conflict and was killed on July 4, 1969 during a mission.

In 1992 the future of the airport never appeared brighter. The airport received a federal grant of almost $7 million to make the airport serviceable as a reliever airport for Hancock Field. It received a new and expanded runway, a new hanger and two new gasoline trucks. At that time there were 10,000 take-off and landings each year. As a condition of the grant, the land was supposed to be used exclusively as an airport for 20 years.

After Bill Michael's passing, his son, Michael (Micky) Michael, operated the airport. Micky kept the airport busy with flight school, aerial spraying, hangar rental and landing fees. Tragically, Micky was killed when he crashed an experimental plane while en route to an air show in Osh Kosh, Wis. in 1996. Things were never the same after the passing of Micky Michael and the airport languished for many years.

Recently, the current owner transferred its status as a reliever airport to another airport in the town of Hastings, leaving only the three yellow X's and a lone, dilapidated engineless airplane and an empty hangar to symbolize the end of an era in Cicero.

Thomas B. Mafrici is the town of Cicero's historian.

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