Latinas in Aviation
On Saturday, October 2, 2021, College Park Airport and Museum welcomed fourteen Latina Aviation professionals for the Latinas in Aviation Global Festival 2021. It was the first time that Latina pilots and professionals flew into the world’s oldest continuously operating airport. The pioneer women included the first Latina captain for American Airlines and the first Latina to complete Air Force pilot training. Take a look at the selection of items these Latinas donated in 2021 and learn more about their stories of passion and determination.
Delivering America: Airmail to Email
August 12, 1918, saw the first regularly scheduled airmail service in the world fly out of College Park Airport. Discover the role College Park Airport played in airmail and the aviation innovations which came from this endeavor and learn about the sacrifices and lives of the people who were a part of it. Included are the stories of Max Miller, the first airmail pilot, and Dervey Lomax, Andrew Hill, George F. Brooks, Sr, and other African American Airmail station crew members. In 2022, the museum proudly expanded the exhibit to include new research on the stories of these workers from College Park’s African American enclave of Lakeland.
The Plane of Tomorrow, Today!
Within months of the end of WWII, the Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO) began marketing it’s spin-proof, stall-resistant, anyone-can-fly Ercoupe. The airplane was the work of the brilliant designer, Fred Weick, and was marketed as the epitome of a new era of modern living. This exhibit draws on the museum’s vast ERCO collection to illuminate the design, marketing and worldwide success of the Ercoupe. It features an Ercoupe suspended in flight and a cutaway section, so visitors can see what makes this plane unique.
Another Field of Firsts: The Columbia Air Center and African American Aviators in Prince George’s County
College Park is not the only “Field of Firsts” in Prince George’s County. In 1941, Dr. Coleridge M. Gill, along with Cloud Club flying club, became the first African Americans to operate a licensed airport in Maryland. Notable members and aviation pioneers included Herbert H. Jones, Jr, John Greene, as well as big band leader Jimmie Lunceford. The Columbia Air Center operated from 1941-1956, on land that is now part of Patuxent River Park, 28 miles southeast of College Park. The airfield, originally called Riverside Airfield, hosted the military and a Civil Air Patrol squadron during World War II and afterwards continued as a center of aviation for generations of African Americans before its close in 1956. This exhibit contains the restored, original Wayne Gas Pump Model 60 from the Columbia Air Center, as well as photographs and relics.
Stay tuned for updates in the exhibit scheduled for 2023-2024!
Tails of Flight
What do animals have to with airplanes? More than you think! Since the beginning of aviation, animals have played a significant role in air services and pilots’ stories. Even the Wright Brothers, the pioneers of flight, had dogs for companionship. Early in aviation pilots began to use animals as mascots. Be sure to check out the Tails of Flight exhibit on the mezzanine to see just how many different types of animals have flown!