As America entered the war in 1942, a Civil Air Patrol squadron was established on a newly-built military aerodrome on the Riverhead Plains adjacent Westhampton Beach.
Demobilized in 1946, it was reactivated in 1950 where it was the home of an Air Force fighter/interceptor squadron to protect the Eastern Seaboard against enemy aerial attack. After being leased by the U.S. Air Force for an Air Defense Command Base in 1960, it was deactivated in 1969 and released back to Suffolk County the following year.
Today, Suffolk County's Francis S. Gabreski Airport is a general aviation facility with two fixed based operators and a 9,000 foot runway (one of the New York area's longest after JFK International, nee Idlewild) to accommodate aircraft of any size. The airport en toto encompasses 88 acres and contains 34 buildings amounting to approximately 311,000 square feet.
The popular locale is utilized by corporations, businesses, private aviation and air taxi services. Also based at Gabreski Airport, named for the late former base commander and World War II air multi-ace, is the New York Air National Guard 106th Rescue Group which operates HC-130 Hercules and MH-60G Black Hawk helicopters to perform aerial search and rescue services as well as coverage for the NASA space shuttle launches.
Since 1998, the Air National Guard has been deploying its aircraft to combat illegal dumping in the thousands of acres of the Pine Barrens Core and protecting other environmental sensitive areas.
Plus it's a handy and reliable place for visitors and residents to check weather conditions.
There is also some wonderful '40s lore, a mysterious set of plans for secret underground Army Air Corp hangars at the aerodrome, detailed in Michael Dorman's fascinating 17 May 1998 account, A Wing and a Plan, now only available in the Newsday Archives.