Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Croom in Prince George's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Aviation History

Columbia Air Center

 
 
Columbia Air Center Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, March 18, 2008
1. Columbia Air Center Marker
Inscription. In 1941, aviation history was made when the first Black owned and operated airfield licensed in America opened on this site. Mr. John W. Greene, Jr., a pioneer in Black aviation, was instrumental in developing the airfield, originally called "Riverside Field."

With the advent of World War II, civilian flying was restricted, and many private airfields were utilized by the military to train pilots. Riverside Field was occupied by the U.S. Navy until 1944 for training missions.

After the war, Mr. Greene, with financial support from Dr. C. M. Gill, reopened the airfield as "Columbia Air Center." It offered a flying school, charter services, and facilities for major and minor repairs. The first Black Civil Air Patrol squadron in the Washington, D.C. area, called the "Columbia Squadron," was formed here.

In later years the field operated under the names of "W and J Flying Service" and the "Capital Flying Club," promoting such activities as skydiving and parachute jumping.

Activities at the airport gradually decreased, and by 1958 it was closed to all air traffic. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission acquired this property in 1959, the first acquisition of the Patuxent River Watershed Park.

[Photos on marker] Columbia Air Center in operation; John W. Greene, Jr.; his
Marker as seen from the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Driving Tour Road. image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, March 18, 2008
2. Marker as seen from the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Driving Tour Road.
North side of Columbia Air Center.
pilot and mechanic licenses; Piper 65, Fairchild, and Taylor aircraft; Civil Air Patrol (Columbia Squadron) members; maps; and "Airport Data".
 
Erected by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
 
Location. 38° 45.377′ N, 76° 42.342′ W. Marker is near Croom, Maryland, in Prince George's County. Marker is on Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Driving Tour Road one mile north of Croom Airport Road, on the right. Click for map. Follow Croom Airport Road to its end at the west perimeter of the old airfield. Proceed north and eastward around the now vacant and cultivated airfield (toward the Patuxent River and Shelby's Landing) via the "Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Driving Tour." The marker will be seen in the first turn-out on the north perimeter of the field. Note that the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Driving Tour Road is not always open to vehicular traffic, that it is not shown on some maps, and that it is labeled on some maps as Croom Airport Road. Marker is in this post office area: Upper Marlboro MD 20772, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Man and the River (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Sears House (approx.
Intro to Driving Tour - at terminus of Croom Airport Road. image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, March 18, 2008
3. Intro to Driving Tour - at terminus of Croom Airport Road.
1.2 miles away); The Blacksmith Shop (approx. 1.2 miles away); The Duckett Cabin (approx. 1.2 miles away); Blown to Atoms (approx. 1.2 miles away); Shaded Reprieve (approx. 1.8 miles away); Charles Town (approx. 1.9 miles away); First Americans at Mount Calvert (approx. 2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Croom.
 
Also see . . .
1. Columbia Air Center, Croom, Maryland. (Submitted on March 19, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Maryland Department of National Resources - African American Sites along the Patuxent River. (Submitted on March 19, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
 
Categories. 20th CenturyAfrican AmericansAir & SpaceNotable Persons
 
Aviation History Marker - Close up of the "Columbia Squadron" image. Click for full size.
4. Aviation History Marker - Close up of the "Columbia Squadron"
the first Black Civil Air Patrol squadron in the Washington, DC area.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,933 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   4. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Christopher Busta-Peck was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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