Ed Garvey enjoys daily “air shows” from his backyard as he watches planes take off and land.

A Unique Perspective: Part One of a Series on the History of the Burlington International Airport (BIA)

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Thursday August 21, 2014

Edward “Ed” Garvey has seen history in-the-making, right from his backyard for the 56 years he’s lived on Dumont Ave. Garvey, 83, is a longtime neighbor, friend and former airline supervisor of the Burlington International Airport (BIA), and—as an avid aviation fan and history buff—he has kept written recounts of his airport days. Over the past few decades, Garvey has consistently added to his collection of written memories and has passed along his stories and unique perspective to aid in the making of Burlington International Airport: A Pictorial History, a book written by 1982 Airport Commissioners, and the 2010 publication Burlington International Airport: A History 1920-2010.

Before his career at the airport, Garvey was in the Air Force, assigned to the 764th radar squadron at St. Albans from 1952-1953, and was stationed in other locations such as Wyoming and Minnesota prior to arriving in Vermont.

In 1956, Garvey was hired to work with Colonial Airlines, which offered DC-3 service to LaGuardia Airport in New York City with intermediate stops at Rutland, Glen Falls, and Albany as well as a flag stop at Poughkeepsie, if there were reservations. That year, on June 1, Colonial Airlines merged with Eastern Airlines. Garvey recalls a time when the company was known as Eastern Airlines, Colonial Division.

One of Garvey’s most memorable moments came with the introduction of jet service to the airport when Eastern Airlines transferred its Northern Division to Mohawk Airlines. Several important figures flew in on Mohawk N114-J for the dedication, including Michigan Representative Gerald Ford, who later went on to become the 38th President of the United States.

Garvey had other unique experiences during his long career at the airport. He sighted a high altitude U-2 spy plane making touch and goes. He met Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary in the airport restaurant for an interesting conversation. He remembers, during the Mohawk Airlines era, a young man paying twice, by check, to charter an airline for fall sightseeing and nightclubbing in Manhatten. He turned out to be Pierre S. du Pont IV who laster bacame the Governor of Delaware. Garvey recalls presidential election speeches at the airport from candidates such as John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. And he remembers a time when passengers flying to or from Canada had to stop in Burlington to clear U.S. customs.

Garvey has lived through tremendous transformation at the airport. Along with the Colonial to Eastern to Mohawk mergence, Garvey experienced Mohawk Airlines’ mergence with Allegheny Airlines in 1972 and then the Allegheny Airlines change to USAir in 1979. Across the long duration of Garvey’s career, the Burlington “Municipal” Airport became the Burlington “International” Airport in 1969.

Naturally, working at the airport provided many fruitful traveling opportunities. Rome, Berlin, Tokyo, and Alaska are just a few memorable destinations that Garvey remembers in particular.

Garvey dedicated 35 years of service to the airport before reaching retirement. Now, Garvey enjoys his time walking, gardening and volunteering at Fletcher Allen. He lives with his wife Gail and is a father to five children, three of whom live in Vermont, one lives in Connecticut, and another lives in Virginia.

Even though his BTV days have ended, Garvey still enjoys what he refers to as “daily air shows” from his backyard as he watches the planes take off and return into Burlington skies.

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent