HISTORY OF ESAM
The Empire State Aerosciences Museum (ESAM) began in 1984 when four aircraft and flying enthusiasts, Carl Battaglia, Ernie Tetrault, James Delmonaco and Steven Israel, banded together in their desire to create a museum with the purpose of inspiring and educating the public about the wonders of flight. As the years went by, visitation and membership grew exponentially as did the museum itself. What was once a small collection now includes over 20 planes in our Airpark, exhibits and interactive displays in 2 buildings, a simulated reality vehicle ride, and a research library with more than 10,000 books, over 5,000 photographs, and over 6,000 other archival documents.
ESAM was not always as large and exciting as it is today. When the museum first started in 1984, it occupied offices where Richmor aviation is today, on the south end of Schenectady County Airport. From there, as the museum grew and its exhibits were moved into the Donovan Building, our current Gallery 2, at the end of the 1980’s. However, that was not nearly enough space to exhibit all the history of aviation in New York State. In 1993, ESAM knew they needed to expand. With the help of our volunteers, and the funding brought in by The Great Northeast Airshow, ESAM was granted the opportunity to expand into the 9 buildings on the western perimeter of the Schenectady County Airport. These buildings were the prefect environment to tell the story of aviation, as they were a huge part of the aviation history of NY on their own. ESAM’s large hangar and outer buildings were originally occupied by the General Electric Flight Test Center From 1946 to 1964, where groundbreaking jet engine research and other aviation advances were pioneered.
The Schenectady County Airport itself is a highly significant location to aviation history. This airport was one of the earliest consolidated airports in the country and dates back to 1927 when one of the first planes to land was the Spirit of St. Louis, flown by Charles Lindbergh, shortly after his famous transatlantic flight. During the 1930’s, the airport became an aircraft manufacturing site, a military training area and an Army Air Force (AAF) base during World War II. In 1946, due to pivotal aircraft research and development conducted right here in Schenectady, this airport was the location of the first transport of air mail in a jet plane, as part of an Army Air Force demonstration. With the later establishment of the General Electric Test Flight Facility and the Malta Rocket Test Station (in Malta) toward the end of WWII, this airport became known as “The Little Peenemunde of the US” because of the revolutionary rocket and jet engine research & development.
The current value of the Empire State Aerosciences museum to the Capital Region is that it:
-Stimulates interest in aviation, particularly that of NYS, for residents & visitors of all ages
-Provides a repository for historical artifacts, documents & aircraft
-Assists schools by exposing students to aviation technology and career opportunities
-Provides space for meetings for aviation advocates and other groups