Ryan Visitor Center reopens at Floyd Bennett Field
An historic terminal is restored to its former glory
On May 5 and 6, 2012, 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.
Live music will kick off the festivities at noon on Saturday, May 5, with the ribbon cutting ceremony beginning at 12:30 P.M. Contests, swing dancing and children's activities will take place over the weekend. The Rockaway Arts Alliance will conduct children's activities on both days in the new visitor center. Check back for a detailed schedule.
It's so old it's new! See the unveling of the "Winnie Mae"
A full scale replica of Wiley Post's Lockheed Vega aircraft the "Winnie Mae" will be christened as well. 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. (No plans for the aircraft are known to exist.)
Old features restored, new visitor services added in restoration
In the newly restored center, visitors can view newsreels from the airfield's heyday via a touch screen and enjoy historic exhibits. Children can "fly" a mini-airplane and test their paper airplane design skills.
During the three-year renovation, the 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.
To find out about Phil Thys, the watercolor artist who worked on some of the exhibit panels, click here.
Did You Know?
The first transatlantic flight departed from the Rockaway Naval Air Station on Jamaica Bay in 1919. Today, it is the site of Gateway NRA's Jacob Riis Park.