Hazelhurst Field, N. Y. was a temporary flying field under lease, located on the Hempstead Plains at Mineola, Long Island.The field was also known as aviation Field No. 1 and included included Field No. 2, later known as Mitchel Field. The field was named in honor of 2d Lt. Leighton W. Hazelhurst, Jr., 17th Inf., who was killed in an aviation accident, June 11,1912. Established, June 1916 on property previously used by New York National Guard as an aviation field. Flying started June 1916 with capacity of 50 students from junior officers of the line detailed to Aviation Section, Signal Corps. Served as training field until July 9, 1918, when placed under jurisdiction of Operations Section, Department of Military Aeronautics. Additional construction began July 26, 1917. From June 7, 1918 to Feb. 7, 1919, referred to as Headquarters First Provisional Wing or Headquarters First Reserve Wing. Headquarters 1st Provisional Wing: The Wing controlled all flying fields on Long Island ; its principal function, aside from the defense of New York City, was the training of squadrons as units for oversea duty and development of team work in advanced flying. Used as reception center for Air Service recruits.
In 1917, a new army aviation field, Field #2, was established just south of Hazelhurst Field to serve as an additional training and storage base. Jennies became a common sight over Long Island in 1917 and 1918. Hundreds of aviators were trained for war at these training fields, two of the largest in the United States. Numerous new wooden buildings and tents were erected on Roosevelt and Field #2 in 1918 in order to meet this rapid expansion. In July 1918, Field #2 was renamed Mitchel Field in honor of former New York City Mayor John Purroy Mitchel who was killed while training for the Air Service in Louisiana.
Mitchel Field continued to grow after World War I and between 1929 and 1932 a major new construction program was undertaken. New brick barracks, officer's clubs, housing, warehouses, and operations buildings were constructed, as well as eight massive steel and concrete hangars. Much of this construction remains in place today. Between the wars Mitchel was the Army's premier air corps base, somewhat of a military Country Club atmosphere with fine housing, clubs, pools, polo fields and tree-lined streets. It became home to several observation, fighter and bombardment groups and it hosted the 1920 and 1925 National Air Races.
In 1938, Mitchel was the starting point for the first nonstop transcontinental bomber flight, made by Army B-18s. Mitchel Field also served as a base from which the first demonstration of long-range aerial reconnaissance was made. In May 1939, three B-17s led by Lt. Curtiss Lemay flew 750 miles out to sea and intercepted the Italian ocean liner Rex. This was a striking example of the range, mobility and accuracy of modern aviation at the time.
During World War II, Mitchel was the main point of air defense for New York City, equipped with two squadrons of P-40 fighters. In the late 1940s it was headquarters of the Air Defense Command, First Air Force and Continental Air Command.