“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Croom in Prince George's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

The Cloud Club

The Cloud Club Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), October 16, 2021
1. The Cloud Club Marker
The first licensed African American owned and operated airport in Maryland if not the nation, opened here in 1941. Originally known as Riverside Field, the Columbia Air Center was established by a group of African American aviators known as the Cloud Club.

The Cloud Club, Inc. was formed in May of 1940 in Washington, DC. The club first met and flew at Beacon Field in Alexandria, Virginia. Friction between the Club and the airport began after Club members were accused of violating the airfield's rules and regulations. Racial tension prompted the aviators to search for a field on which to build and operate their own airport.

The club's members found a suitable field in Croom, Maryland on the west bank of the Patuxent River. Landowner Rebecca Fisher agreed to lease the 450-acre property to the Cloud Club for $50.00 per month. In 1941, with the guidance of club member John W. Greene and the financial assistance of C.M. Gill, the Cloud Club erected an office, two hangers and a landing strip at Riverside Field. The Cloud Club then hired flight instructors, purchased and leased aircraft and named Greene as Airport Manager.

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Club members developed Riverside Field into a safe and well run operation. They gave flying lessons and hosted air shows. The airfield's first air show, in 1941, drew over 800 spectators and featured parachute jumping, acrobatic and precision flying and airplane rides. The Washington Afro-American newspaper heralded this event as "the first of its kind," as all of the pilots and performers were African American.

In December of 1941, soon after the United States entered World War II, the Cloud Club was notified that wartime restrictions would suspend civilian flying at the field. The U.S. Navy used Riverside Field for training until mid-1944, when the airfield was reopened to general aviation and renamed the Columbia Air Center. Operations thrived after the war, but by the 1950's, flying activity began to decline and the airfield closed in 1956.
Erected by Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansAir & SpaceEntertainmentWar, World II. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1940.
Location. 38° 45.213′ N, 76° 42.573′ W. Marker is in Croom, Maryland, in Prince George's County. Marker is on Croom Airport Road, 0.9 miles east of Park Entrance Road, on the right when traveling
The Cloud Club Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), October 16, 2021
2. The Cloud Club Marker
north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 16091 Croom Airport Rd, Upper Marlboro MD 20772, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Columbia Air Center (here, next to this marker); The Compass Rose (here, next to this marker); John W. Greene (a few steps from this marker); The Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Driving Tour (within shouting distance of this marker); Eastern Bluebird (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Aviation History (approx. 0.3 miles away); Man and the River (approx. half a mile away); Woodland Indian Villages on the Patuxent River (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Croom.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 16, 2021. It was originally submitted on October 16, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 196 times since then and 69 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 16, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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May. 26, 2024