College Park Aviation Museum
Affiliated with the renowned Smithsonian Institution, the College Park Aviation Museum in the State of Maryland provides educational exhibits, programs, tours, and special events for the general public, school groups and tourists. Located on the grounds of the airport where Wilbur Wright gave flight instruction to the very first military aviators in 1909, the museum was opened in 1998 and is dedicated to researching and promoting the history of the development of aviation.
The state-of-the art building covers an area of 27,000 square feet, with areas large enough to display original and replicated historic aircraft along with a host of artifacts and multi-media information – making the world of aviation both entertaining and educational. Interpretive areas and hands-on activities ensure that children of all ages come to appreciate the wonders of flight, and exhibits change on a monthly basis to keep visitors coming back time and again. The museum offers a venue with a difference for children’s birthday parties, and events such as the Model Rocket Workshop can be enjoyed by all ages.
With more than a century of aviation history, College Park Airport is the oldest continually operating airport in the world. In addition to its association with the famous Wright Brothers, the airport has been home to some significant milestones in aviation history. For example, in October 1909, Lieutenant Frederic Humphreys was the first military pilot to fly solo in a military airplane after receiving flight instruction from Wilbur Wright. In 1911 the first Army Aviation School was opened at the airport, and in the same year the first bomb-aiming device was tested when inert bombs were dropped from the air, using a bomb-sight invented by Riley E. Scott. In 1912, a Lewis Machine Gun was fired from a Wright B airplane, and Lieutenant Henry “Hap” Arnold achieved the first mile-high flight. The first US Postal Air Mail Service operated from College Park Airport between 1918 and 1921, and in 1924 the first controlled helicopter flight was successfully carried out. Between 1927 and 1935 the Bureau of Standards developed and tested the first radio navigational aids.
Today aviation seems to know no bounds, with new innovations taking place at breath-taking speed. The College Park Aviation Museum recognizes these innovations, while paying tribute to the pioneering adventurers who first took to the skies.