g
This particular Walk-Round gallery is one I never thought I personally would ever produce for various reasons; firstly it's in the USA, at a location called Hangar 'B', situated beside the shores of Jamaica Bay, Brooklyn, New York City and it's a Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina that I thought I would never get to see in person.

Floyd Bennett Field is a large historic landing ground, come airport, come USN Station, that was one of the places to be over the years; so much 'historic' has happened here. Today, after falling into retirement that led to abandonment and dereliction, the US National Parks have taken over the area and are slowly restoring remaining parts of it to their full past glory; and doing a splendid job as the main building housing the Control Tower will testify. It's restoration is simply stunning. And, it is a huge area; cleverly, other hangars are being fully restored on the outside, whilst the interior is housing natural gas blending plants, very clever.

However, there is one hangar - one of several that remain - situated away from the main clutch of hangars in the middle of the field area, that sits beside the waters of Jamaica Bay, and this one is very special as it houses the home of H.A.R.P. - the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project. It is here that genuine historic aircraft are being slowly restored to a superb display standard so that future generations can see what the airplanes were like, how they looked, and admire the workmanship that went into them - not only in the original construction but in the restoration too.          

These volunteers represent some of the guys that used to fly them, maintain them or are just interested in them and they work on them with loving care, unpaid and giving freely of their time and efforts. It is a remarkable place to visit and my hat goes off to them all for their dedication, especially as the place is run on somewhat of a 'shoestring' budget; if ever you can help them, with what ever, then please do so as they will be very grateful. It is a well worthy project worth any donation one can give; I did.

The volunteers of the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project (H.A.R.P.)  come to Hangar 'B' at the gateway National Recreation Area's Floyd Bennett Field, New York, on any Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday to work on the planes and you can visit during those days to view the preserved historic aircraft there yourself.

To see more of what's inside Hangar 'B', two of the best photo-blogs are here and here and the H.A.R.P. Facebook page here.

So, I got to spend time with one of my all-time favourite flying boats, the Consolidated PBY-5Aa Catalina, thanks to 'Linc' - see below...

What the photo's don't convey is the heat inside the hull whilst shooting the photo's - God, it was SO hot in their. The mid-day sun was shining through the hangar windows straight into the cockpit of the Catalina, and what with it being very confined inside the hull moving forward and aft, made it feel like a fire was burning underneath her! I was soaked from sweat when I finally climbed out but what an experience! I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent inside her and one thought stayed with me all that time.......are you REALLY going to restore her from THIS! Just look at the insides and imagine attempting to restore her back to her operational appearance - wow, what a job these fantastic volunteers have set themselves.

I for one would love to live close enough to be able to help them...I wish them all the luck in the World with her..........

SEAWINGS Special Thanks:

I got to accomplish one of my 'Bucket List' tasks on this visit - to get up-close to this Catalina - and that was made possible by the extremely kind services of one man, New York Park Service Ranger John Lincoln Hallowell (Linc) who, from the first phone call I made a few weeks earlier, could not have done anything else to make my visit more enjoyable. Not only was his personal service toward myself a credit to his uniform - nothing was too much trouble - he is a really first-class bloke, a pleasure to know.

Linc, 'Thank You' from the bottom of my heart for your time, trouble and effort that day; I will never forget it

g