New York City’s Floyd Bennet has changed faces many times over the course of its existence; New York’s first municipal airport; a naval air station; and currently a park.
Though Floyd Bennet Field is no longer in use as a military, commercial, or general aviation airfield, a part of the field is however used by the New York Police Department (NYPD) as a helicopter base.
The formation of Floyd Bennet Field was deemed an ambitious and challenging feat. Currently located in Mark Park in the southeast of Brooklyn, the airfield was created by joining Barren Island and a number of other smaller marsh islands with the mainland.
This was achieved by filling the many channels connecting the marsh islands with tons of sand taken from the bottom of Jamaica Bay. Before the formation of Floyd Bennet airfield, the isolated marsh islands had a small community of residents, one of whom had even set up a private airstrip that he had used for private tours of the islands.
Existing before JFK and LaGuardia were perhaps even thought of, Floyd Bennet was New York’s only airport; that was the time when almost all air traffic came out of Newark.
The name of the airport comes from the famed aviator and recipient of the Medal of Honor Floyd Bennet, who was a Brooklyn resident when he died. Floyd Bennet was a household name as an Arctic pilot, but his claims of reaching the North Pole didn’t pass without controversy; some even disregarded his claims as fabrications and utter lies. The dedication of the airport took place on June 26, 1930, however, the airfield was officially opened on 23rd May 1931, almost a year after the initial plans.
The official dedication of the airport was marked by a mesmerizing flyover in which more than 670 army aircraft took part. The field was initially recognized as NOP when it was operational as a naval air station and later as a coast guard airfield. The FAA has now changed the location identifier for the Floyd Bennet Field as NY22, and it is being used as the NYPD’s helicopter station.
The National Park Service took over Floyd Bennet Field in 1972 as part of its Gateway National Recreational Area. The National Park Service’s listing for the esteemed Recreational Areas include some of the earliest surviving structures that are still standing in their original condition and carry significant history; these buildings are thus listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The National Register of Historic Places is considered the largest collection of commercial architecture from the classic era. When you step in the airport today, it seems as if you practically step back in time – almost half a century back. It is always advisable to explore the vast airport using a bike since the enormous expanse offers a variety of artifacts and neat things to explore.