Photo credit: © Joe McNally
Accession Number: C.2021.23.1
Dimensions: 109 in X 44 in X 1/16 in
Dimensions (Metric): 276.86 cm X 111.76 cm X 2.54 cm
Credit Line: Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum. © Joe McNally
Donald T. Gromling, Timothy Hayes, Pilots, NYPD Aviation Unit
Life-sized Polaroid photograph taken by Joe McNally depicting NYPD Aviation Unit Pilots, Donald T. Gromling and Timothy Hayes. Both men are wearing their uniform jump suits, red life vests, and aviation headsets.
A unit within the Department’s Special Operations Division, NYPD’s aviation fleet is based out of Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field, which had served as NYC’s first municipal airport. From Bennet Field, the NYPD deploys helicopters on a variety of surveillance and rescue missions across the City’s five boroughs. On September 11th, severe smoke conditions, flames, and obstructed landing areas eliminated the feasibility of extricating civilians by helicopter from the rooftops of the Twin Towers. Instead, the pilots were left with the task of reporting the worsening situation to their command task force on the ground and sharing observations about the apparent weakening structural condition of each skyscraper.
Gromling, now retired and living in Baldwin, Long Island, joined the NYPD in 1989 and rose to the rank of second grade Detective before leaving the Department in 2008. Lieutenant Hayes, also retired, had flown helicopters for the US Navy during the Vietnam War. His service on those dangerous military missions earned him induction into the Distinguished Flying Cross Society, run by a nonprofit group of US military veterans.