"May it ever be a boon to aviation and may it serve as a beacon indicating that
there were some grateful hearts for that great American, Floyd Bennett."
With these words Mayor James J. Walker formally dedicated Floyd Bennett Airport last
Saturday before a visible audience of about 60,000 persons and a radio audience of
millions throughout the United States.
With a shifting wind that varied continuously from northeast to southeast, and a sky
that threatened showers, the army air maneuvers were delayed at Floyd Bennett Field for
three hours. But the dedication, speeches and flag ceremony were conducted as planned.
Peter J. Brady, introducing the speakers before the battery of microphones in the
grandstands, started the program in his official capacity of chairman of the mayor's
The mayor recounted, in humorous tone, his own limited aeronautical experience. "I
was up once," he said, "on Friday the thirteenth. It was a perfect flight and I
wish to maintain that splendid record . . . which is why I haven't been up since."
Presentation of a bouquet to Mrs. Floyd Bennett, wife of the martyred flyer, concluded
the exercises in the grand stand. Mrs. Bennett expressed herself simply by saying,
"This is the happiest day of my life."
Not until 5:30 did the first squadrons of army pursuit planes and bombers take to the
air in maneuvers although numbers of them had arrived earlier. In the interim after the
grand stand exercises, radio announcers continually described the field, the visitors, and
the coming and goings of planes to the vast crowd through the many amplifiers all over the
Admiral Phelps, commander of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, spoke in praises of the late Floyd
Bennett and eulogized those who had chosen the famous flyer's name for the airport.
"We regard his character as in inspiration in the navy," said Admiral Phelps
of Floyd Bennett. "One of the most important things about this airport is its
Mayor Walker, wittily comparing the wilderness of what is now Floyd Bennett Field with
the airport, characterized Barren Island as the area was once named as the "stench of
America"--with which laughter resounded from the farthest hanger. In an eloquent
tribute to the hero of the air whose name was immortalized today, the Mayor declared:
"There is no one who is not mindful of the courage, knowledge, scientific ability
that characterized Floyd Bennett. There is no one who will not recall how we waited with
apprehension for news of the three musketeers (one of whom was Floyd Bennett) on their
record trip. There is no one who will not remember the mishap on Greeley Island and how
Floyd Bennett flew to bring relief. He was a martyr to civilization."
John Mac Kenzie, appointed Dock Commissioner only last week, followed Mr. Brady and
spoke as the man in charge of the airport, Briefly he emphasized the features of Floyd
Bennett Field; the seaplane base and hangars, the eight airplane hangars with lightweight
aluminum doors, the 400 acre landing space and the concrete runways, the administration
building which was built in 78 days, and the vast amount of land reclaimed from the
archipelago that was once part of Jamaica Bay.
Colonel Clarence Young, assistant secretary of commerce in charge of aviation, Admiral
W. W. Phelps and Mayor Walker were the next three speakers in turn.
Colonel Young, as representative of the Federal government assured the vast assemblage
that nowheres in the United States was there an airport to be found comparable to Floyd
Bennett Field in respect to size, facilities and nearness to means of transportation.
Shortly after 5 o'clock when few of the 672 planes of the army air fleet had arrived, a
"flight" of bombing planes, each gallantly emblazoned with a picture of
"Jigg"--the comic character--took to the air. Immediately after came two flights
of pursuit planes.
Circling the field dozens of times, the three flights dove, turned upside down, formed
into "V's" and straight lines, made figure eights, and passed each other at wing
lengths--all at better than 125 miles an hour. In the midst of the maneuvers, two planes
in the "Mule" pursuit flight broke from the ranks and began a "dog
fight." Diving, looping the loop, and running into dangerous "stalls" on
purpose, the planes flew towards each other time and again. Sometimes they almost
seemed to merge into one. And down on the ground, with motors idling, were ominous
evidences of the risk being taken--several field ambulances, a fire engine, and numerous
motorcycles and patrol wagons.
At 6:15 the sky to the northwest began to be speckled with dozens of pencil marks;
dozens--and then hundreds. By 7:30 the 672 planes of the army armada were in the air over
Floyd Bennett Field, making a spectacle that roared and dove, banked, and zoomed. And
there must have been no less than two million persons watching them, from Sheepshead Bay
to the penthouses of Manhattan.