Tower trip: Take a tour of the city’s first airport

The interior of the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park.
Brooklyn Army Terminal

Take a flight of fancy!

Brooklynites can take a trip back to the Golden Age of Aviation this month, back to when the New York City’s only municipal airport was located in Marine Park. The air control tower at Floyd Bennett Field will offer free 90-minute tours to ticketed visitors on Oct. 20, as part of the 17th annual Open House New York weekend on Oct. 18–20.

The event helps to remind New Yorkers of their history, said the director of the Open House program.

“A site like Floyd Bennett Field, where many Brooklyners never get to go, is a reminder of what the early days of air travel in New York looked like, and how remnants of New York’s past infrastructure continues to surround us,” said Gregory Wessner.

The tour will begin at the Ryan Museum, formerly the airport’s terminal. Visitors will learn about the history of Floyd Bennett Field, which was built in 1931, and about the famous pilots who flew there, including Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes. The tour will include peeks at areas usually off-limits to the public, including tunnels underneath the airport runways, used to transport luggage to the planes, and a visit to the restored control tower, which still offers an astounding view of Jamaica Bay, the runways, and the rest of Brooklyn.

The antique airport is one of 60 architectural wonders throughout Kings County that will open to the public during Open House New York, along with private residences, historic monuments, and manufacturing sites.

Those who wish to tour the Floyd Bennett Field Control Tower must make a reservation on the Open House website, starting on Oct. 8 at 11 am. Reservations are often snapped up quickly, but there are also many sites that will be open without a ticket.

Two of the featured sites this year will be free for anyone to visit, Wessner said.

“This is a big year for Brooklyn, we have our featured sites which are the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Brooklyn Army terminal, it’s sort of like an Army-Navy rivalry,” he said.

Tour guides will lead visitors through the brutalist atrium of the Army Terminal in Sunset Park at 2 pm, 3 pm, and 4 pm on Oct. 19 and 20; and the Chashama Studio Hub, on two floors of the Terminal, will hold open studios for its 96 artists that weekend.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard in Fort Greene will have 50 of its tenants available on Oct. 19 from 10 am–6 pm, allowing spectators to tour their spaces and the Navy Yard campus.

Floyd Bennett Field Control Tower tour (3159 Flatbush Ave. at Floyd Bennett Field in Marine Park, www.ohny.com). Oct. 20 at 10 am; noon, and 2 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Chandler Kidd at ckidd@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–2525. Follow her at twitter.com/ChanAnnKidd.

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