In the late 1920's, a pilot and a teenage field mechanic climbed into a biplane to take off from a small airport. The airplane takes off but doesn't get quiet high enough to avoid crashing into a church steeple. One might expect a tragedy, but the two on board get out of the plane and climb down inside the steeple unharmed.
According to local legend, this happened to George Pruden and a pilot in Wayne Township. It's one of many unique aerial tales from Murchio (or Murchio's) Airport here in Wayne.
On Hamburg Turnpike and Church Lane
The oldest airport in Passaic County, Murchio's was built by Thomas and Joseph Murchio in 1919. Neither brother had flown before. Joseph, 23 years old, had a reputation as an automobile racer. Thomas, 32 years old, soon developed a reputation as an excellent flyer. The brothers bought their first plane, a Jenny, for $4,000 and soon built their first airplane hangar. Eventually, their fleet of airplanes and business expanded. Sightseeing, skywriting, and towing sign advertising were among their many endeavors. The airfield was about 71 acres and had an elevation of 480 feet. The airport was in business until 1956 (following Thomas Murchio's death in 1950), when his family sold the airport to developers. The land was partially developed into the T-Bowl Shopping Center.
The Murchio's Airport Photo Collection
Click any image to enlarge and learn more!
Barnstorming, stunt flying, and tricks were common at Murchio's Airport. On June 16th, 1940, Bill Rhode set a world record at the airport by jumping from an airplane and opening five parachutes.