Miller Field was a United States Army facility in the neighborhood of New Dorp, Staten Island, New York. It was founded in November 1919 and completed in 1921.
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.The Field was the site of the Elm Tree Beacon Light, a lighthouse from the 19th century through 1924 when it was abandoned. The light had replaced a landmark elm tree.The Miller Army Air Field Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Accidents and incidents
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.
The field is in use as a local park, with baseball and soccer fields. It hosts the New York Philharmonic in the summer. The field is directly east of New Dorp High School.
Miller Field is a part of the Staten Island Unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area, which is managed by the National Park Service.
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.