18. Floyd Bennett Field
Brooklyn’s Barren Island is home to Floyd Bennett Field, New York’s first municipal airport built in 1931. Sections of the site have been abandoned places since the Navy deactivated the airfield in 1971, but in its heyday, Floyd Bennett Field saw ascents by historic aviators, such as Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes. With this kind of a storied history, the airfield naturally lends itself to having a few secrets.
The airfield was named after Floyd Bennett, a World War I aviator who was recruited to pilot an expedition to the North Pole. It has been the site of many historic flights, one of the most memorable being the outing by Howard Hughes in 1938 to circumnavigate the earth in record time. In 1941, the airfield shifted from a municipal airport to a Naval Air Station, where those who made and tested aircrafts worked during World War II. It soon became the busiest naval air station in the United States. The NYPD and FDNY have made use of the facilities post-war, mostly for storage. The site’s 1,300 acres of “grassland, saltmarshes, tidal mudflats, a marina, and the former airfield, including a control tower and terminal that is now the William Fitts Ryan Visitor Center (Ryan Visitor Center)” are run by the National Park Service.