The Mackay Radio Tower is the last of two towers (originally 300 feet (91 m) high and 1,000 feet (300 m) apart) that were used to transmit international point-to-point radio communications starting in 1927. At the height of World War II the tower was used for responding to upwards of ten SOS calls a day from ships at sea. The tower had somebody on site 24 hours a day, but the actual transmissions were keyed from Southampton. The towers toppled during the Great 1938 Hurricane.
At 12:35 pm. on January 28, 1961, an American Airlines Boeing 707 Flight 1502 (Flagship Oklahoma) with an engine on fire nosedived over the towers before crashing about 300 yards (270 m) off the Napeague coast, killing all six aboard. The plane had been on a training flight from Idlewild Airport. An often repeated story says the plane clipped one of the towers, but The New York Times account of the crash says it just missed the towers.
The Mackay towers were decommissioned in 1984, and its underlying land is now part of Napeague State Park. One of the towers was torn down. The remaining tower is used for communication purposes by the New York State Police. Its flashing white lights are visible throughout coastal areas of East Hampton. Read more