Ed Gorski began his aeronautical career at the age of 15 helping Clarence Chamberlin assemble surplus World War I aircraft on a corner of the marshland that the Wittemann brothers had purchased from Walter Teter. Each day, Ed would ride his bicycle from his Lodi home to the lowlands that was then a section of Hasbrouck Heights.
In 1924, when Anthony Fokker moved his Atlantic Aircraft Corp. into the Wittemann plant, Gorski went to work for the Dutchman as a mechanic and soon became a supervisor. He had a hand in assembling or maintaining many historic Fokker aircraft including the Fokker trimotors Comdr. Richard E. Byrd flew to the North Pole in 1926 and across the Atlantic in 1927. He also supervised the assembly of the Fokker Friendship in which Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic in 1928. In 1930, when Fokker introduced the largest passenger plane in the world, the F-32, Gorski did extensive testing of the high winged monoplane.
Gorski first soloed in 1926 flying a World War I "Jenny." He recalled that his first personal airplane was an "elephant eared!' OX-5 powered Travel Air biplane. No matter the plane's appearance, it was a day to remember, he flow his own biplane for the first time.
Near the end of July 1927 Ed Gorski along with Bill Hartig helped Clarence Chamberlin assemble a Fokker biplane equipped with a Wright Whirlwind radial engine on a Manhattan pier. It was then placed on the deck of "The Leviathan", a ship fashioned with a makeshift runway. The effort was to demonstrate a ship to shore airmail delivery. On July 31st Chamberlin flew from the ship and flew to Curtis Field on shore.
In early 1932 Ed Gorski was a former maintenance supervisor for Fokker. He was "between jobs" when he and Bernt Balchen helped Amelia Earhart prepare her red Lockheed Vega for the first solo transatlantic flight by a woman. Bernt and Ed modified the plane for the journey. They strengthened the plane's fuselage, added in the extra fuel tanks and installed a new Pratt & Whitney engine. They conducted extensive flight tests while modifying the aircraft. Ed explained:
"We flight tested the Lockheed Vega for hours on end over Teterboro. We would load the little plane with sandbags to simulate the weight of the fuel that would have to be carried over the Atlantic, and then fly around the Meadowlands. When it came time to land, we had to rid ourselves of the weight, so I would push the sandbags out while Bernt flew in circles. People thought we were dropping bombs".This bombing range is where Giant's Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ sits now. The two accompanied Amelia to the takeoff point, Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, and stayed there until she left on the trip to Ireland.
Many well known personalities such as big game hunters Martin and Osa Johnson, were regular users of Teterboro during the Gorski years. Publisher and physical culturist, Bamarr Macfadden kept his company plane, "Miss True Story" at Teterboro. Ed remembered that Macfadden would pay him to test fly the Vega prior to each Macfadden flight because the publisher feared the plane would be sabotaged. Being Macfadden's test pilot almost cost Gorski his life. The following newspaper article of the lucky escape appeared in the May 9, 1939 Passaic Herald News.
Edward Gorski, 32, general manager of Standard Aviation Inc., at Bendix Airport, escaped with bruises and shock yesterday afternoon when an airplane he was flying alone crashed to the ground when the motor failed.
The plane is owned by Bamarr Macfadden, the publisher who lives in Hackensack. Gorski, who lives at 354 River Drive, Garfield, was pinned in the overturned monoplane for 20 minutes before it could be lifted sufficiently to pull him out. Henry M. Bogert of Hackensack, president of Standard Aviation, said Gorski had just taken off for a flight to Roosevelt Field and was about 100 feet in the air when the motor died. He guided the ship to the ground but when the wheels struck the soft earth and bushes it somersaulted, landing on its back.
Although he was not pinned beneath the machine, Gorski was trapped because the top hatches are the plane's only mode of entrance and exit. It was necessary to lift the ship clear off the ground to get the flier out.
A fire broke out in the motor but was promptly extinguished by field mechanics.
The plane, a Northrop semi-cabin type, is the one Macfadden entered in the Bendix Trophy Race last year but withdrew at the last minute. The plane is kept at the Standard Aviation hangar at Bendix Airport.
Gorski is in charge of the training of 30 New York University students in the Civil Aeronautics Authority's program to qualify youths to man the nation's increased air force.
In 1933, Ed Gorski of Lodi, NJ made perhaps the two most important decisions of his life. On the professional side, he assumed control of Standard Aviation Flying Service at Teterboro Airport from George DeGarmo. He enhanced his private life by marrying Julia Chizacky of Garfield, NJ. The Depression years were a poor time for a young couple to take on the task of running an aviation business, but with the backing of Henry M. Bogert, Hackensack, they took the plunge. Fifty-five years later, Gorski told friends;
"Those were lean years, but I was a bit hard nosed and we paid off all the bills you did whatever was necessary to keep the business running."This required working with Julia seven days a week, 14 to 16 hours a day. They hangared and maintained aircraft in the old Fokker hangar where Gorski had worked for almost a decade They organized weekly air shows on summer weekends and sold airplane rides for $1 each. For a buck his passengers would fly from Teterboro around the Hackensack courthouse (about two 2 miles) and back. On a good Sunday, they would fly 250 to 300 people. They became a leading dealer and distributor of Stinson and Aeronca airplanes. Eventually, they developed a reliable charter service, flew aerial photography missions and operated a thriving student pilot training program.
In 1946, the Gorski's purchased a small airstrip in Lincoln Park, NJ, and developed it into one of the finest general aviation airports in the state. Ed always ran one of the cleanest, safest and strictest operations on the East Coast. Ed and Julia Gorski continued to work as a tireless team until they retired in 1979. Ed had spent 57 years in the aviation business, and Julia had been an aviation executive for 45 years, a remarkable accomplishment for a woman of any era.
Ed Gorski and Julia owned an Aeronca K that they kept at Lincoln Park Airport in New Jersey. Pictures of it are hanging on the wall of the Airport Office/Restaurant. As the Airport owner, he would ensure that all pilots did things just right. He was quite an aviator, and his Aeronca K was quite an aircraft!
They were inducted into Aviation Hall of Fame of New Jersey, Edward, in 1973; Julia, in 1978.
I took flying lessons at Lincoln Park Airport in the early seventies. I remember several stories about the kind of man Ed Gorski was.
There was an incident that took place which had me baffled until I found out later what really transpired. I am watching airplanes take off while standing in front of the office. The wind was right to have the planes takeoff departure point from the "road end" of the field, near the office. Mr. Gorski came out of the office, on his usual patrol, which he observed a problem with a plane. It had completed run up mag check and started down the runway. He ran into the office and over the Unicom he radioed to the plane. He indicated to the pilot that he saw a problem and the plane should return the the field immediately. The pilot did return and Mr. Gorski walked out to the aircraft to talk. Some words were exchanged and the pilot turned around and flew off again. No changes to the aircraft! Later I find out, the guy had thrown an empty cigarette pack out his window just before run up. Ed called him back to chew him out and give him his garbage back!
Lincoln Park Airport was a beautifully kept airfield when Ed Gorski had it. Green grass everywhere, white painted wood split rail fences boarding the airport property. The FBO office building was a classic round silo type structure, always clean and good looking. There were hundreds of model planes hanging from the office ceiling. Several glass cabinets holding aviation memorabilia. To a teenager like I was, this was what GA was all about. It was great just going to the airfield, there was always something to see, things going on.
Another incident, one summer day Ed Gorski was out in his Aeronca when I showed up for my flying lesson. He had just started up and was talking to someone. He yelled out that he was going to a quick once around. I saw him move down the taxi way, to go to the "woods end" of the field where the takeoff departure point was. I watched him increase taxi speed to a point where it looked almost reckless. No, it wasn't reckless, he took off from the taxi way! Beautiful takeoff, he flew the pattern and then landed. The first words from him, shouting out the open door, "the throttle stuck!". Yeah, right.
Throughout the 1980s, Ed Gorski was a familiar face at Lincoln Park. Each time he saw something on at the field that didn't suit him he'd complain to management. He might have sold the field, but his spirit never left.
Ed Gorski died in 1989.
Photographs of: Amelia Earhart just prior to her transatlantic flight
with her mechanic Ed Gorski and Bernt Balchen.
The plane is a Lockheed Vega.
This page last updated 05/26/2003.