New York’s first airport is hidden away in an unlikely place — but you can still check it out

Floyd Bennett Field Airport 36Hollis Johnson

About as far southeast as one can go in Brooklyn, at the very end of Flatbush Avenue, the site of New York City’s first municipal airport bakes in the sun — its original purpose now just history.

These days, Floyd Bennett Field is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, a place where locals come to fish or camp, schoolchildren take tours, and disused hangars are transformed into sports complexes or public kayak storage space.

Far across the field from the terminal building, the colossal Hangar B houses the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project, a largely volunteer organization working to restore a significant collection of vintage aircraft to museum condition.

Floyd Bennett Field Airport 10Hollis Johnson

When it opened in 1931, the airport was a state-of-the-art facility designed to accommodate a rapidly expanding aviation industry.

It would host some of the best-known aviators of the period, people like Howard Hughes, Amelia Earhart, Wiley Post, and Roscoe Turner.

The field is named after Floyd Bennett, who earned the congressional Medal of Honor after he and partner Richard E. Byrd became the first men to fly to the North Pole. It was one of many accomplishments in what is now considered the golden age of aviation.

Eventually, the airport lost business to Newark Airport, which was much more convenient for traveling New Yorkers. The field would be turned into a naval air station just a decade after it opened, serving as a base for training and patrol and antisubmarine aircraft for much of the Cold War, Lincoln Hallowell, a park ranger who has served as a de facto historian of the field for 16 years, told Business Insider.

Hallowell led us on a tour of the field. Here’s what we saw.

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