historic college park airport paint branch ave industrial park early morning hdr panorama from metro station

Early Morning at the Cradle of Aviation

Many historians consider College Park to be the “cradle of aviation” because of its role in many early aerial achievements like the first mile-high flight (1912), first flight of the U.S. Postal Airmail Service (1918), and first controlled helicopter flight (1924).

On these grounds in 1909 the Wright Brothers were commissioned by the United States government to train the world’s first military aviators,making College Park Airport one of the most significant airfields in aviation history.

This early morning panorama consists of 6 photos stitched together, shot from the College Park Metro station parking garage.

Things to see in the full size version of this photo:

  • Parked aircraft at college park airport (left). Located just 7 miles north of DC on the B&O railroad, College Park Airport is home to less than 100 light aircraft and stands as the world’s oldest airport still in operation today. The main runway can be seen running parallel to the tree line.
  • Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (far left). One of the oldest railroads in the United States and the first steam-operated railway to be chartered as a common carrier of freight and passengers (1827).
  • Paint Branch Industrial Park (center). This small industrial park is home to many local auto repair facilities and trade labor companies.
  • Aviation museum. Found behind the industrial park, this 27,000-square-foot facility was dedicated in 1998 to preserve and promote aviation innovations at the airport.
  • College Park Tennis Club. Also partially seen behind the industrial park, this club houses is one of the largest tennis facilities in the DC area.
  • Paint Branch Parkway. The main road, connecting Greenbelt Road to historic U.S. Route 1 and the University of Maryland main campus.

What once comprised 160-acres of Maryland flatland has since been reduced to approximately 66 acres in the heart of a sprawling college community, with the remaining land now home to a small industrial park and sports complex.

Historical photo showing an aerial view of College Park Airport by George Brinckerhoff

Historical photo showing an aerial view of College Park Airport by George Brinckerhoff, who managed the airport from 1927 until 1959, ca. 1933. My location would have been somewhere in the lower left third of the image, near the edge. Use the railroad as a reference point. Photo courtesy of Maryland Historical Society.

Watch the short video below to learn more about the historical significance of College Park Airport:

Did you know?
College Park Airport was also home to the first testing of a machine gun from an aeroplane.

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