Joe Costa
Courtesy of Richard W. Vockroth, 5-8-04
The Flight of the Crystal City
by Richard W. Vockroth
     Hazards await those who would challenge the skies in search of adventure. Inclement weather, fickle powerplants, deceptive instruments, and physical incapacitation have taken their toll of pilots, while others, like Amelia Earhart, simply disappeared without a trace. Only one claims the dubious honor of having fame and fortune torn from his grasp by the tiniest and least significant of creatures, a colony of termites. Yes, termites! And therein lies a tale...
     To read the rest of this fascinating story, click on:
Joe Costa's quest for a prize.

via email from Dick Vockroth, 4-14-04
     While surfing this morning I found your website and noted that you had little information regarding Joe Costa. Joe taught me to fly and I knew him well.
     He was born February 22, 1909 and died on November 11, 1998. He is buried in St. Mary's cemetery in Corning, NY.
     His son, also named Joe (but with a different middle name) now operates the airport in Painted Post.
     Joe is most remembered for his ill-fated flight to Rio de Janiero in 1937 and the story of the flight is told briefly in the book, Revolution in the Sky by Richard Sanders Allen. I wrote a more detailed account for a now-defunct magazine, Pegasus based upon many discussions with Joe, and it is quite a story.
     With the onset of WWII, the military realized that they would need civilian flight instructors to do most of their training, and a civlian pilot training program was developed. I don't recall exactly what it was called, but I'm sure you know. Joe was recruited, and taught primary and advanced flying at Alfred University in upstate New York, Roosevelt Field on Long Island, and at Grand Junction, CO throughout the war. Afterward he returned to Corning and operated as FBO at several locations in the ElmiraCorning area.
     In 1993 the Empire State Aerosciences Museum presented Joe with the Aviation Pioneer Award "in recognition of your outstanding contributions to the development and advancement of General Aviation."
     In 1994 the Federal Aviation Administration, Rochester Flight Standards District Office presented Joe with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The plaque reads, "Presented to Joe Costa in recognition of 65 years in aviation. Your career and contributions to the aviation community is a beacon for others to follow."
     Also in 1994 the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Administration Administration, Eastern Region presented Joe with a Certificate of Appreciation "in recognition of 65 years of distinction as an aviator."
     He never kept count of how many people he taught to fly, but it is unquestionably in the thousands.
     He was quite a gentleman as well as a superb pilot of low-powered, single-engine airplanes.
Hope this is helpful. I'm happy to see Joe get the recognition he so richly deserves.
Dick Vockroth

by Ken McBrayer, 6-28-05
All pilots remember their first flight instructor. For me this was Joe Costa. I met Joe in 1981. I had aspirations of becoming a professional pilot and had been accepted to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. My dad insisted that I take lessons from Joe Costa before he forked over the dough to attend ERAU. When I first appeared at the Painted Post airport I saw Joe touching up the paint on his wife's Cadillac with a paint brush. He later gave me a tour of his hangar and I was amazed at the quality craftsmanship that he and his son turned out of that old hangar with their basic hand tools. he was a master at rebuilding old wrecked airplanes.

Joe not only flew the aircraft but he wore it. I mean he could manipulate the controls like no other. Flying in the southern tier of New York was very challenging because of the rolling hills. Turbulence was always a factor to consider and Joe handled it with ease.

I remember his stories about Amelia Earhart and his theories of her accident. He also laughed when he recalled Bill Lear driving around in a Model "T" trying to get that gadget called an ADF to work. (Bill Lear, founder of Lear Jet, Motorola, 8 track tapes and hundreds of others.)

I left Corning in 1983 and never returned. I often think of Joe and recall the basic aviation skills that he taught me that I still use today.

Ken McBrayer
Captain, Boeing 757/767, United Parcel service
Joe Costa
Page from Ken's Logbook showing Joe Costa's signature

The Saga Continues
Courtesy of Bob Van Wicklin, 6-22-05

New York's 29th Congressional District
Contact: Bob Van Wicklin, 202 226-1924 (office) or 202 225-4505 (cell)
E-mail: visit us at
June 22, 2005
Town of Erwin IDA will receive $2.5 million grant from FAA for major improvements
     ERWIN, N.Y. U.S. Representative John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr. (R-Hammondsport) today announced that the Corning-Painted Post Airport (7N1) in the Town of Erwin has been awarded an Airport Improvement Program grant of $2,522,019 to pave and light the existing grass runway.
     "This grant is terrific news for the Town of Erwin and the Corning-Painted Post area," said Rep. Kuhl, Vice Chair of the House Aviation Subcommittee. "These funds will be used to pave and light the existing grass runway at the airport which will allow it to operate all year and meet the FAA's stringent safety and design standards. The airport will be able to accommodate increased traffic and, in turn, attract increased economic activity to the area."
     "I sincerely thank Congressman Kuhl for all of his help in securing these funds and getting them released by the FAA," said Thomas M. Tammarro, Supervisor of the Town of Erwin. "This is a good thing for the area as it allows the airport to stay open year round and it means jobs and opportunities for local residents."
     The Corning-Painted Post Airport is a public-use, general aviation airport designed for small planes of 12,500 pounds or less. The facility is owned and operated by the Town of Erwin Industrial Development Agency. The airport is home to Costa's Flying Service, founded in 1930 by legendary aviation pioneer Joe Costa, which offers fuel service, flight instruction and air tours of the Finger Lakes region.
     The airport is generally bounded by I-86 to the north, and Meads Creek and State Route 415 to the west and south, and includes the existing grass runway, six nested T-hangar units, a bulk hangar, a maintenance hangar, a terminal building, and a car parking area.
     The funds for these airport improvements are made available by the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP). The AIP is authorized by Congress under the Aviation Investment and Reform for the 21st Century Act (AIR-21).

Joe Costa
Joseph A. Costa Field
Contributed by Ken McBrayer, 6-9-11
Airport Revisited
via email from Ken McBrayer, 6-9-11
     Joe taught me to fly 30 years ago this past week. I rode my Harley from Kentucky to Painted Post, NY to visit Costa's Field. I talked with Joe Jr. whom is now 70 years young.

I snapped this photo for your website.

Ken McBrayer

Early Pilots Collection.
Photographs, clippings, correspondence; 1894-1978; 2.2 cubic feet. There is material on Thomas S. Baldwin, Lynn Bauder, Lincoln Beachey, Joe Bennett, Tony Bitetti, Art Boston, Ralph M. Brown, Frank H. Burnside, Joe Costa, William E. Doherty, Fred Eells, Theodore Ellyson, Eugene Ely, Walter L. Fairchild, John J. Frisbie, Bert Hassell, Beckwith Havens, Frederick A. Hoover, Ray Hylan, Fulton Irwin, John Kaminski, Charles B. Kirkham, Henry Kleckler, E. M. Laird, Ruth Law, William S. Luckey, Damon Merrill, Harvey Mummert, Hugh Robinson, Blanch S. Scott, Windy Smith, Francis Wildman, J. Newton Williams, and others, including a number of student pilots from Japan. Also a typed history of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation Airplane Division, 1910-1945, by Art Butler, and reminiscences of Curtiss Airplane Company of Buffalo, 1915-1919. RLIN ID NYHV2306-A.
Editor's Note: This collection is believed to be housed at the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, NY.

     If you search for "Joe Costa" +aviation, using the Google search engine, (9-22-07), you will find about 162 links, not all of them relevant.

     Joe Costa's son operates the service on the original airport which was established by his father in 1930. The name has been changed to Corning-Painted Post Airport.

       Joe Costa died on November 11, 1998. He is buried in St. Mary's cemetery in Corning, NY.
Personal communication from Dick Vockroth, 4-14-04

Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this pioneer aviator,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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