There is no biographical file for pilot Rappaport in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.
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Max Rappaport is recorded in the Pitcairn Field Register once, on Thursday, May 29, 1930. He appears in no other Registers. Based at Roosevelt Field, Long Island, NY, he carried one passenger cited as "J. Gross." They flew in the Bird BK Rappaport identified as NC980V. They cited no destination or times of arrival or departure.
Rappaport was born in Austria April 6, 1899. In many ways, beyond chronologically, his life and work parallel fellow immigrant and Register pilot Ernest H. Buehl.
The New York State Census for 1905 placed him living at age 6 in Mahattan, NY with his father, Herman (age 34), mother, Eva (age 33), and two sisters, Ida (11) and Sadie (1). All but Sadie were born in Austria. They also shared their home with Abraham Maierbrook, 21, who was listed as an "Operator (pants)." Rappaport was listed in the Census as "At school." I know nothing of his early life or education.
Fast-forward 13 years and his WWI draft card, dated September 12, 1918, is at right. He was 19 years old and employed at the Submarine Boat Company, Newark, NY as a "Bolter-up." Note that he was not yet a U.S. citizen. He was of medium height and build; dark brown hair and eyes. I could find no record of military service.
I could find no 1920 U.S. Census, but, based on his and his brother Nathan's obituaries, below, he probably had a couple of more sisters and a brother. According to the 1930 U.S. Census and his application for naturalization, he came to the U.S. in 1902 and became a naturalized citizen in 1929. His primary language, however, was German. At age 31, he lived at 438 Gerard Avenue, Bronx, NY with his wife May Irene (32; b. 01/06/1898 Keedysville, MD). The photograph at right is of May, courtesy of ancestry.com. She passed away June 19, 1988 at Camp Hill, PA, about seven years after her husband. Her brief write-up at FindaGrave.com states, "She was a retired Democratic committeewoman, a teacher at Archane School for 50 years, and was a member of Christ Presbyterian Church, Camp Hill, and Spiritual Frontier Fellowship. She was 90."
To continue, sharing his home in 1930 was his widowed sister-in-law Agnes Bradley (38) and two nieces, Mildred (19) and and Blanche (8). They rented their home for $80 per month. The Census records his age at marriage as 26, which would have made the year ca. 1925. His occupation in 1930 was identified as "Pilot" in the "Aviation" industry.
One of the flights he made was to transport news photographs from South Carolina to Georgia. This flight and its aftermath were documented in the article from the Statesville (NC) newspaper, left.
At least from 1927 (see his obituary, below), Rappaport operated a flying school out of Hangar 25 at Roosevelt Field, Long Island, NY. Besides the incident above, his students and his airplanes made the news.
For example, The New York TImes (NYT) of August 19, 1934, right, reported on a large fleet of New York-based airplanes flying north to St. Hubert Airport in Montreal. This was an annual good-will cruise consisting of about 40 airplanes and 150 pilots and their passengers.
This late summer cross-country voyage would overfly some scenic landscapes as the participants made their way north up the Hudson River, Lake Champlain and beyond. Rappaport joined with the fleet and flew a Bird aircraft, perhaps the same one he brought through Willow Grove.
Besides Rappaport, other Register pilots found among the particpants were J.H. Lapham, S.L. Willets (passenger over at the Davis-Monthan site), James Mattern, and William May (?; probably in Travel Air NC391M).
Further, from The New York Times of June 23, 1935, below, is another, more disturbing, illustration.
In this case, the deceased pilot Whitney stored his airplane at Rappaport's Hangar 25.
The New York Times of April 9, 1936, left, reported another accident suffered when one of Rappaport's training aircraft was involved in a midair collision. Rappaport was not involved in the crash, which resulted in one fatality. It is not clear from the article whether the Bird airplane owned by Rappaport was NC980V, the one he flew to Willow Grove in 1930, and perhaps in the Canada run in 1934.
Unrelated, a few years later, a New York Passenger List dated February 13, 1939 cites Rappaport and his wife, May, arriving at New York aboard the S.S. Santa Paula. They had departed on January 27th on what appeared to be a two-week cruise, perhaps to warmer waters. Their residence was listed as 145 Terrace Ave., Hempstead, L.I., NY.
Near the beginning of WWII, Rappaport was a flight instructor. Initially, he taught through the City College of New York. An article appeared in The New York Times of June 22, 1941, right, which described draft relief for students who were enrolled in the flying course operated by the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP).
Soon he moved to Pennsylvania and the Lock Haven Teachers College. The Lock Haven Express, February 19, 1943 featured an article headlined, "Expect Navy To Send 100 To College For Flight Training: New Flight Contractors Take Over Instruction." This was at the very beginning of Rappaport's wartime instructor work. An excerpt from that article follows, below.
Another article in the Lockhaven (PA) Express for July 2, 1943 stated, "The flight contractor for Lock Haven W.T.S. [Wartime Trainng School] is Max Rappaport whose school has one of the finest records in the country. There are now 20 planes available at the airport (with seven more to come) for the use of the naval pilots."
Further, an article in the Williamsport, PA Gazette & Bulletin, November 16, 1943 cited Rappaport at Lock Haven, PA in charge of the program teaching Navy flying cadets how to fly. The article described how the Piper Aircraft Company, in business now in Lock Haven, agreed to build a 20-airplane hangar. The hangar was to be sold to the city, and then the Navy could, through Rappaport's program, rent the hangars from the city of Lock Haven for $10 per month. The rent was to be used to amortize Piper's initial construction costs. This was a good example of wartime efficiency, as well as, probably, a courtesy shown by the Piper Company to the government in recognition of the lucrative wartime contracts let to Piper for aircraft and parts.
At some point, Rappaport transitioned from flying to business and moved out of the greater New York City area to Pottsville, PA northwest of Philadelphia. The Pottsville business directories for 1953, 1955 and 1958 listed him as the President of Rapp Motors, Inc. in Pottsville. His spouse was identified as May and she was the secretary. Nathan Rappaport (Max Rappaport's brother) was vice president. The company sold new and used cars at 2242-2244 West Market St. in Pottsville. His business suffered a fire on June 16, 1959 as cited in the Lebanon (PA) Daily News, right.
Sometime between 1958 and 1961 Max and May had a falling out and Max moved west. The California Marriage Index for 1961-1960 listed Rappaport's marriage on September 5, 1961 at Imperial, CA to Helen Jabo. He was 62 years old and she was 44 (10/15/1916-3/13/1991).
Max Rappaport, 81, founder of M & R Woodcraft Co. in Phoenix and a pioneer aviatior, died Friday in St. Luke's Hospital.
Mr. Rappaport, 1214 E. Myrtle Ave., was operating a flying school at Roosevelt Field at Long Island, N.Y., when Charles Lindbergh took off from the field in 1927 on his solo flight from New York to Paris. Mr. Rappaport's pilot instructor's license was the 32nd to be issued by the federal government. In the 1930s, he "barnstormed all over the country" in a plane called Lucky Lindy, he recalled in an interview.
"Any cow pasture and we'd land. I even took off from and landed on beaches in the Carolinas. We were having the time of our lives."
From 1939 to 1944, he trained-pilots for the Army. He quit when he developed a "branstormer's ear," damage done to the hearing by air pressure during flying stunts.
"To hell with it, I'm going to Arizona," the Austrian-born Rappaport, said, but it wasn't until 1961 that he came to Phoenix from Pennsylvania.
He was a Mason and is survived by his wife, Helen; daughter, Cynthia McDaniel; two sisters and a grandchild. Services will be 10 a.m. today at Green Acres Mortuary, 401 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale. Sinai Morturary made the arrangements.
Rappaport's obituary was published in The Arizona Republic April 6, 1981, left. He died at Scottsdale, AZ.Rappaport started his work life in a ship yard, moved to aviation, transitioned to automobile sales and then founded the M&R Woodcraft Co. He lived most of his life in the greater New York City area, then moved to Pennsylvania followed by Arizona late in life.
Max Rappaport was difficult to research. Indeed, I found no photographs of him. The sketchy details showed him to be busy in the aviation industry for the better part of two decades: the core of his work life. He operated a flight school in a busy area of the country and was successful through the Great Depression. His teaching transitioned to military training during WWII. Sometime between the end of WWII and 1953 he left aviation. I do not know exactly when or why he made that decision.
He had two wives, May (aproximately 1925-1961) and Helen (1961 until his death in 1981). I saw no other evidence that he had children other than (stepdaughter?) Cynthia mentioned in his obituary. Two sisters survived him as did wives Helen and May (see above). His brother Nathan passed away in 1971 in Arizona at age 65. His obituary from the Phoenix Sun, April 2, 1961Max Rappaport was buried in Arizona, and Helen joined him a decade later. Their gravemarker is below.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 2/24/16 REVISED: 03/01/16