Real estate developer E. H. Holmes built the airport on approximately 220 acres (89 hectares) of undeveloped land. He organized and sold stock in Holmes Airport, Inc., but claimed that some wanted to see him fail. In February, 1929, Clarence D. Chamberlin, the aviator Viola Gentry, and Dorothy Stone, actress and daughter of Fred Stone, broke ground for the new airport. It had two hangars, an office, and two gravel runways, of 2,800 feet (853 meters) and 3,000 feet (914 meters) in length, respectively.
The new airport opened on Saturday, March 16, 1929, attracting 100,000 visitors on its second day of operation. Later that year, the first scheduled flights from New York City began when Eastern Air Express started a two-day service to Miami from Holmes.
In April 1930, thousands of people paid $1.00 for a ride in an airplane. It was promoted as an experiment to ascertain whether it was fear or the expense that kept the public from flying.
On Sunday, November 11, 1934, sixty-four airplanes took part in a 30-mile (48 km) novelty race involving a treasure hunt and pie-eating contest, the winner returning in 28 minutes.
Blimps also used the airport. Goodyear erected a 220-foot-long (67 m) hangar in 1931 and conducted sightseeing flights. In 1936, a Goodyear blimp based at Holmes Airport provided the first aerial traffic reports.
In 1937, the airport's owners sought a court injunction to stop New York City from spending $8,444,300 to develop what would become LaGuardia Airport only a mile or so to the northeast. Supreme Court Justice Ernest E. L. Hammer denied the request. LaGuardia Airport opened in 1939 and Holmes Airport closed the following year.
The northern portion of Holmes Airport's land was later developed into the Bulova watch factory site.
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- Stoff, Joshua (2004). Long Island Airports. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 85–86. ISBN 0-7385-3676-8.
- Sunday Throngs Pack New Holmes Airport, The New York Times, March 18, 1929, accessed March 29, 2009
- Thousands Take $1 Plane Rides in Test To Learn if Fear or Expense Defers Flying, The New York Times, April 21, 1930, accessed March 29, 2009
- 64 Airplanes Race To Pie-Eating Line, The New York Times, November 12, 1934, accessed March 29, 2009
- The College Point Airship Park, Airship, The Journal of The Airship Association, No. 126, September 1999, accessed March 29, 2009
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- Fight on Queens Airport Fails, The New York Times, April 7, 1937, accessed March 29, 2009