50 Aviator Road, Brooklyn.
Floyd Bennett Field
A park on Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn
Once an important New York City airport, Floyd Bennett Field—part of Gateway National Recreation Area—is now dedicated to the celebration of aviation history, sports, and the great outdoors. A wonderful escape from the bustle of the urban life, it is unlike any other place in the city.
Sure to please any outdoor enthusiast, Floyd Bennett Field has a wide variety of nature programs that includes urban camping, ecology walks, astronomy and gardening events and kayak trips. Experienced paddlers may bring their own kayaks or canoes and launch from the Seaplane Ramp into Jamaica Bay, but can also enjoy challenging group excursions. For visitors without paddling or water experience, Gateway periodically offers beginner programs at Floyd Bennett Field and other sites that give first-timers the chance to safely get out on the water.
For those who prefer to stay dry, there are plenty of other chances to get in touch with nature at Floyd Bennett Field. Ranger-led walks through the wild North Forty highlight the site's unique, sensitive ecology and give visitors the opportunity to get as close as possible to amazing flora and fauna without causing harm. Bird lovers especially will appreciate the wild grassland areas; these uncut sections provide a variety of rare species with essential native habitat. Additionally, the Floyd Bennett Field Garden Association runs Brooklyn's largest community garden, where members plant and tend their own plots.
One of the most exciting developments at Floyd Bennett Field is the urban camping program, which gives visitors the chance to sleep under the stars and even cook over an open flame right in New York's back yard. Each campsite is basically equipped, providing campers with a comfortable space while still enabling the classic camping experience of pitching a tent and "roughing it." There is also some RV parking available. Camping spots fill up quickly, so be sure to make a reservation and review campground access, policies, and amenities to plan for your campout. For group camping, the Ecology Village offers programs that provide a communal experience perfect for large school groups and multiple families.
Named for naval aviator and Brooklyn resident Floyd Bennett, the first person to fly over the North Pole, the old airport was a point of departure for other record-breaking flights of famous aviators including Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes. The site opened in 1931 as New York's first municipal airport and was converted to a Naval Air Station in 1941. It was then the most active airport in the United States during World War II. Now, Floyd Bennett Field is home to the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project (HARP), which restores and maintains a wide variety of aircraft and gives visitors the opportunity to get up close to—and even inside of—these amazing airplanes. Located in Hangar B, this impressive collection is a must-see for any fan of aviation history.
Another popular destination at Floyd Bennett Field is Aviator Sports & Events Center, a recreation facility that offers a wide variety of sports-related programming and facilities including sports camps, fitness classes, and field space. Sports enthusiasts can sign up for specialized, continuing programs or drop in for public skating, rock climbing, basketball, and more.
In addition to the offerings at Aviator Sports, other park recreational activities include horseback riding at Jamaica Bay Riding Academy, golf and mini golf at the Brooklyn Golf Center, archery, biking, softball, and fishing. Visitors can also make use of the Jamaica Bay Greenway, a multi-use pathway adjacent to Floyd Bennett Field perfect for walking, jogging, or biking.
Things to Do
Special Events in July
For reservations and event details call 718-338-3799.
Ruffle Bar Kayak Excursion
7/2 & 7/23, 8:30-11:30am, Seaplane Ramp
Enjoy a five-mile paddle around Ruffle Bar island in Jamaica Bay. Learn about the island's history and the plants and animals that thrive there.
Four Sparrow Marsh Paddle
7/2, 1-3pm, Mill Basin Kayak Launch
See the sights on this two-mile beginners paddle to the cloistered Four Sparrow Marsh. Ages 6 and up with an adult.
Walk Up and Paddle
7/2 - 2-4:30pm, 7/24 - 9-10:30am, Seaplane Ramp
Kayak tryouts for those who have never kayaked before. Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult.
Dead Horse Bay Paddle
All sessions at the Gateway Marina
Experience Dead Horse Bay from the water on this pleasant two-mile paddle to Plumb Beach. Ages 6 and up with an adult. Reservations required.
Let's Go Biking!
Bike to the beach and explore the land and sea of Jamaica Bay! Single-speed bikes and helmets provided. Riders must be 5 feet tall. Make reservations online.
World War II Nose Art
7/8, 1-2pm, Ryan Visitors Center
Learn about the graffiti-like designs World War II pilots painted on the noses of their planes. Children can design a nose art picture of their own.
Yellow Bar Excursion
7/9, 12:30-3pm, Seaplane Ramp
Try a five-mile paddle through the salt marsh at low tide to see the plants and animals that thrive there. Reservations required.
Gerritsen Creek Kayak Excursion
7/17, 10am-3pm, Gateway Marina
Enjoy an energetic four-plus-mile excursion up the Gerritsen Creek and back. See the estuary and then cool off at the Salt Marsh Nature Center while learning about plants and animals with a ranger. Reservations required.
Kayak Skills Session
7/18, 3-4:30pm, Seaplane Ramp
Receive free kayaking instruction then practice your strokes and skills at these weekly sessions. Children over 11 and adults are welcome.
Brooklyn Greenway Epic Ride
7/26, register and get details at www.brooklyngreenway.org
Explore the Brooklyn waterfront and greenway on this 40-mile bike ride from Williamsburg to Rockaway Beach. Alternate starts are at Owls Head Park (26-mile ride) and Floyd Bennett Field (14-mile ride).
Family Bike Ride
7/26, 11am-12:30pm, Aviator Sports
Families can try out a "mini-epic" bike ride with a ranger on a loop through Floyd Bennett Field and the Jamaica Bay Greenway. Reservations required.
Exploring Dead Horse Bay
7/27, 10:30am-12:30pm, Main Entrance, Ranger Station
Hike the trails and shoreline of Dead Horse Bay with Mickey Maxwell Cohen, American Littoral Society naturalist. Explore the nature and history of this little known area. Wear sturdy footwear.
Fun Paddle and Walk in Park
7/30, 1-3:30pm, Mill Basin Kayak Launch (Remote Control Flying Field)
Enjoy this beginners paddle on the outgoing tide, along the shores of Floyd Bennett Field. Land at the take-out and then enjoy a guided walk in the park. Ages 6 and up with adult. Reservations required.
Historic aircraft exploration, camping, birding, hiking, jogging, biking, skating, gardening, fishing, boating, ice skating, basketball, softball, soccer, rock climbing, gymnastics, horseback riding, golf, archery, and more.