The College Park Airport is the oldest continuously operated airport in the world. The Wright Brothers set up shop here in August of 1909 to teach members of the U.S. Army how to fly, and small planes have been landing since.
First opened in 1981, the 27,000-square-foot College Park Aviation Museum, which is situated right net to the runway, has a range of historic planes on display, including a replica of a 1910 Wright Model B, a 1916 Curtis Jenny of the type which once barnstormed the country and a 1924 Berliner helicopter.
There are also exhibits about the history of flight for all ages. And kids can even practice on three different flight simulators, try on World War I flying ace costumes, give a propeller a spin, climb into a Taylor aircraft or just do airplane-themed puzzles in a kids’ area.There’s also a gift shop with a decent collection of aviation-themed items for different ages.
Outside, the museum recently added a fenced-in area with play planes that’s fun for young kids especially. And there’s even a rooftop patio overlooking the runway with tables, chairs and umbrellas making it the perfect spot for a picnic while you try and catch a sighting of a plane coming or going.
The museum holds a number of fun family-oriented events throughout the year, including a “Haunted Hangar” around Halloween, model train displays during the winter holidays and monthly STEM-based workshops for kids.
All this made the museum the clear winner of the Hyattsville Wire’s 2017 Best of Route 1 reader poll for “best place to take the kids.”
Last year, the airport added a 12,000-square-foot operations building next door which includes a pilot lounge, conference rooms and a hangar used by University of Maryland aerospace engineering students.
Though the airport remains in operation, you may have to wait a while to see a plane take off or land while you’re visiting. Since Sept. 11, pilots who wish to land there have been required to complete additional security screening, which has caused a drop in use.