Archive for the tag 'historical aircraft restoration project'


Administrators of the Gateway National Recreation Area, Congressman Bob Turner and New York City Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined together with nature enthusiasts and history buffs over the weekend, celebrating the grand reopening of the William Fitts Ryan Visitor Center at Floyd Bennett Field.

The event capped off a three-year effort that saw the building’s interior – once an unfriendly mess of paint chips, splintered wood and decrepit infrastructure – painstakingly restored to its 1930 appearance, including beautiful art deco furnishings and detail work on the interior.

Check out our photos of the stunning new center, as well as photos from Floyd Bennett’s Hangar B, home of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Project.

The historic Ryan Visitor Center control tower at Floyd Bennett Field. Source:

Tons of educational, nostalgic and live music fun is to be had on May 5 and 6 this weekend as the historic William Fitts Ryan Visitor Center reopens this weekend after having been restored to its former glory. You may recall we posted about this awesome place a few months ago after Nick Carr of ScoutingNY put together a terrific photo essay.

According to the National Park Service’s website:

…step back in time to the Golden Age of Aviation as the William Fitts Ryan Visitor Center reopens. Over the past three years the Ryan Center has been restored to its 1930s appearance, when it served as the air terminal for Floyd Bennett Field, New York City’s first municipal airport.

The festivities kick off at noon on May 5 with live music, followed by a 12:30 p.m. ribbon-cutting. There will be contests, swing dancing, and children’s activities on both days, and the Rockaway Arts Alliance — an arts organization that works with its community to mentor local youth in artistic endeavors — will conduct children’s activities on both days in the new visitor center.

As part of the weekend-long celebrations, a full scale replica of the “Winnie Mae,” Wiley Post’s Lockheed Vega aircraft, will be christened. NPS tells us that “The original flew Post around the world twice in the early 1930s, including the first worldwide air trip flown solo by any pilot. This aircraft was built at Floyd Bennett Field’s Hangar B by volunteers from Gateway’s Historic Aircraft Restoration Project (HARP), based on a scale model.”

Visitors to the newly-restored center will be able to partake in a number of exciting activities, including being able to view newsreels from the airfield’s original heyday on a touch screen monitor. Kids can flex their aviation wings by being able to “fly” a mini-airplane, as well as test their paper airplane design skills.

Over the course of the three year renovation:

[T]he Ryan Center was painstakingly restored to its original look during the Golden Age of Aviation in the 1930s, when Floyd Bennett Field served as New York City’s municipal airport. Paintings and panels depicting modes of transportation from the steam engine to the dirigible have been restored to their 1939 appearance. Electrical, fire suppression, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems have been upgraded. A new elevator has been added for increased accessibility.

One of the neat things about having your own website with a sizeable audience is that you occasionally get to abuse the inherent power. In my case, I’m going to show you photos I take that you probably don’t care about. And since I take most of these photos during bike rides out of the neighborhood, it’s kind of like the digital equivalent of your nerdy uncle making you sit through a slideshow of his vacation to who-the-hell-cares-where.

In this case, my trip took me out to Floyd Bennett Field, which I haven’t really explored since I was a kid. I rode over to Hangar B, which is this desolate area that looks like the meeting ground for many a mob transaction. The hangar itself looks beaten up and abandoned. But there’s actually some really cool stuff going on inside.

Namely, Floyd Bennett Field’s Historical Aircraft Restoration Project (HARP) is headquartered in the hanger. There, volunteers piece together and showcase dozens of planes and other aircrafts from different eras. Though they were closed when I was there, word is that volunteers sometimes take visitors aboard to check out the cockpit. For more information, and a photo gallery of some of the planes, check out this website.

I hope you liked my photo. If not, too bad.