Volunteers with the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project (HARP) come to Hangar B at Gateway National Recreation Area's Floyd Bennett Field on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to preserve historic aircraft and interpret them for the public. HARP works within the National Park Service Volunteers-in-Parks (VIP) program and is entrusted with three goals. The group researches, restores and helps preserve part of our nation's rich aviation heritage.
- Research: Based on research, the volunteers make the best effort to faithfully replicate and reproduce the artifact or aircraft to the highest possible standards.
- Restoration: Volunteers painstakingly restore aircraft to "just short of airworthy!"
- Preservation: The group assures that when work is completed the artifacts and aircraft are maintained and displayed so that future generations will know about this important era of aviation history.
- Interpretation: The HARP Volunteers lead tours of Hangar B, showing the hangar and aircraft to visitors, and how Floyd Bennett Field, and these aircraft, fit into aviation history.
Visitors to Hangar B can see these dedicated VIPs working on the park's collection of historic aircraft. What makes a visit unique is that visitors can see, hear, and feel what it is like to be in a working airplane hangar. It's easy to go back in time and imagine what a visit to Hangar B in 1945 or 1965 would have been like.
Many of the volunteers come to the project with decades of experience working on planes, either in the military, or in the civil sector, or both. Volunteers in the program range from youth in high school to the "young at heart" and in their 70s and 80s.
The goal is to return these aircraft to nearly original condition. HARP volunteers have even built a full scale model of Wiley Post's Lockheed Vega, the "Winnie Mae," from scratch! The volunteers and park rangers are available to lead tours of the hangar and planes, and are more than happy to answer any questions.
Hangar B is open to the public Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, 9 AM to 3 PM, with ranger-guided tours on Thursdays and Sundays, from 2 PM to 3:30 PM, during the summer months. For group tours, call 718-338-3799.