St. George’s Day 2017 Dinner and Awards
Sunday, April 9, 2017, at 1 PM
College Park Airport Operations Building
This year we will be celebrating the 321st anniversary of the founding of our county at the College Park Airport. Established in 1909 as the military demonstration site for the Wright Brothers, College Park Airport is the world’s oldest continually operating airport. College Park Airport is the home to many aviation “firsts.”
- October 27, 1909: Ralph Van Deman, wife of Capt. Van Deman, became the first woman passenger to fly in the United States.
- October 1909: Frederic Humphreys was the first military pilot to solo in a military aeroplane. He, Lt. Frank Lahm, and Lt. Benjamin Foulois received their flight instruction at College Park from Wilbur Wright.
- 1911: First Army Aviation School
- 1911: First testing of a bomb aiming device from an aeroplane. Inert bombs were dropped into the goldfish ponds at the end of the airfield using a bombsight developed by Riley E. Scott.
- 1912: First testing of a machine gun from an aeroplane. On June 7, a Lewis Machine Gun was fired by Captain Chandler from a Wright B, with Lieutenant Milling as pilot.
- 1912: First mile-high flight by a military aviator. Lt. Henry “Hap” Arnold made the first army altitude records at College Park.
- 1918-21: First U.S. Postal Air Mail Service. The regular U.S. Postal Air Mail flights were inaugurated on August 12, 1918.
- 1924: First controlled helicopter flight. Emile and Henry Berliner based their flight experiments at College Park from 1920 to 1924.
- 1927-35: First radio navigational aids developed and tested by the Bureau of Standards.
As the popularity of aviation spread in the late 1920s, the airport’s manager, George Brinkerhoff, worked with the Washington Air Derby Association, DC Air Legion, Washington Women’s Pilots Association and other aviation group to organize air races, mock bombing competitions, and stunt flying expositions that attracted thousands of spectators. The Langley Day Air Meet was the airfield’s most well-known contest.
The airfield closed to civilian flying during World War II, but continued to be used by the military for training. Charter services, selling and servicing airplanes, and teaching student pilots were also available at the airfield. In the 1960s, the airfield’s condition deteriorated with the expectation it was to be sold. A group of local aviation enthusiasts began working to save the College Park Airport. In 1973, the airfield was purchased by the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission. The airport was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks the operations at College Park Airport changed. Due to its proximity to the US Capitol buildings, civilian flying was banned and only military helicopters used the field. In 2002 a Special Flight Restricted Zone encompassing 15 nautical miles of the Washington, DC, region was established and included College Park Airport. This necessitated additional security screening for any pilots who wanted to land at the airfield. Today, College Park Airport serves as a convenient modern day facility meeting the everyday needs of general aviation pilots in the DC-metropolitan area.
The dinner will be served at the airport’s Operations Building and provided by Geppetto Catering. You are encouraged to come at 1:00 PM to view the building before dinner at 1:30 PM. Dinner will be followed by our traditional presentation of St. George’s Day awards. Afterwards, everyone is invited to tour the College Park Aviation Museum next door to learn more about the Wright Brothers time at College Park and the history of the airfield.
You should receive your invitations shortly, if you haven’t already. If you have any questions, please call Susan Pearl at 301-262-3367. We look forward to seeing you at St. George’s Day!