Northern New Jersey, near New York City, holds an important place in early aviation history. The Newark Airport was the first great commercial airport in the United States. It opened in 1928, with the first hard-surfaced landing strip of any U.S. commercial airport, and by 1930 it was the busiest airport in the nation and the New York metropolitan area terminus for airmail service. It remained the leading U.S. airport until what is now known as LaGuardia Airport opened in 1939, attracting some of the major airlines serving New York City. During the 1930s, the other major airport in the region was Hadley Field in Piscataway Township, which opened in 1924.
Eric Sloane was born in New York City. He was an artist and self-educated Renaissance man: author, illustrator, painter and possibly the first TV weatherman. Initially trained in sign painting and lettering, he left home as a teenager to become an itinerant artist, painting signs on barns and stores. Back in the New York area and fascinated by aviation, he began painting lettering on airplanes at Roosevelt Field in Long Island. By the mid 1930s he was making oil paintings of airplanes, which he often sold to the pilots who owned them. A few of these, along with a pictorial airport map of Long Island, printed on a sheet of aluminum, can be viewed on georgeglazer.com. Sloane traded painting lessons for flying lessons with the famous aviator Wiley Post. Aviation led to a lifelong passion of painting clouds and skies, and eventually the airplanes vanished from his compositions as he focused solely on the clouds formations.
Inscription verso: “Eric Sloane/ Oakland N.J./ 1936.”
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Recently professionally cleaned and revarnished, with minor abrasions restored. Old frame, possibly original, with the usual light wear.
“Newark Metropolitan Airport Buildings.” Aviation: from Sand Dunes to Sonic Booms. National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/aviation/new.htm (16 November 2012).
Smith, Marshall. “A Short Biography of Eric Sloane.” Eric Sloane. 1 November 1999. http://www.ericsloane.com/ (19 May 2009).