College Park Airport was founded in 1909 when the Wright Brothers came here to train the first military officers to fly in the givernment's first airplane. The airport is the oldest continuously operated airport in the world, and has come to be known as "The Field of Firsts" due to it being the location of a great number of groundbreaking achievements, such as:
1909: First woman passenger to fly in the United States
On 27 October Mrs. Ralph Van Deman, wife of Capt. Van Deman, became the first woman in the U.S. to go aloft in an airplane when she flew at College Park as the passenger of Wilbur Wright. Mrs. Van Deman was a good friend of Katherine Wright, the sister of the Orville and Wilbur.
1909: First officer to fly a military airplane
Lt. Frederic Humphreys was the first military pilot to solo in a military airplane. He, Lt. Frank Lahm, and Lt. Benjamin received their flight instruction at College Park from Wilbur Wright.
1909: First U.S. Naval officer to fly in a heavier-than-air machine
During a nine-minute flight on 3 November, Lt. George Sweet, U.S. Navy, flew as a passenger of Lt. Frank Lahm, U.S. Air Force.
1911: First Army Aviation School
The U.S. Army leased some 200 acres, extending north along the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad property to a series of goldfish ponds and east to the Paint Branch of the Anacostia River, with a maximum cleared runway of 2,376 feet in an east-west direction. Four temporary wooden hangars 45 feet square, built on plans furnished by the Wright Company, were erected along the railroad track, with a small headquarters building next to them. One of the hangars was used to quarter a detachment of enlisted men; a tent served as an emergency hospital.
1911: First testing of a bomb aiming device from an airplane
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 airplane On 7 June, Capt. Chandler fired a Lewis Machine Gun from a Wright B airplane.
1912: First mile-high flight by a military aviator
Lt. Henry “Hap” Arnold set the first army altitude record at College Park.
1918–21: First U.S. Postal Air Mail Service
The regular U.S. Postal Air Mail flights were inaugurated on 12 August from College Park to Philadelphia to New York.
1924: First controlled helicopter flight
Emile and Henry Berliner based their flight experiments at College Park from 1920 to 1924. After their success at College Park, they moved to the Naval Air Station in Anacostia, where they continued their experiments.
1927–35: First radio navigation aids developed and tested by the Bureau of Standards
These first radio navigational aids were the forerunners of the modern Instrument Landing System used today.