The town of Filey, North Yorkshire, England entered into an accord with Calvert County, Maryland, United States of America on July 3 2004, for the purpose of sharing experiences and knowledge for mutual benefit of the two communities. As Filey is celebrating 100 years of early flight and development on Filey's sands by Robert Blackburn, we take a look at early flight in Calvert County and its immediate locality. 

Currently Calvert County does not have any public airports but it does have three private airports and two private heliports. The first incident of historical flight that we encounter was undertaken at Bladensburg.  Bladensburg, or bloody Bladensburg as it was known, featured in the war of 1812 and was there where the men of the U.S Chesapeake Flotilla made a stand against the invading British Army.  The flotillamen under Commodore Joshua Barney made a heroic stand against Wellington’s Invincibles, stalling the British attack on Washington before they were finally overwhelmed.

 Located in Bladensburg was the Indian Queen Tavern which is now known as George Washington House.  The first unmanned flight by a tethered hot air balloon was engineered by local lawyer and innkeeper Peter Carnes close to the site of the tavern on June 17th  1784.  It was reported that the basket of the balloon was damaged and when it was repaired, a 13 year old boy was put on board for its next flight. 


Another important place of early flight is the College Park Airport in Prince George’s County was founded in 1909   and is known as the “Cradle of Aviation”.  It was the location of Wilbur and Orville Wright’s  heavier-than-air powered aircraft flights in September 1908, at about the same time as Blackburn’s flights on Filey sands. The airport is the oldest continuously operating airport in the world and was founded by the Wrights Brothers and has been the site of many “firsts” in aviation.  There is an interactive museum on the site that is affiliated to the Smithsonian Institution and further details about the Wrights can be seen by accessing this link.

Croom's Historic Airport is a few miles south of Prince Frederick is Christ Church located on Broomes island is where an African American  hosted an sir show in the 1920s.  The site is part of the Patuxent River Park adjacent to the Patuxent River and is the site of the Columbia Air Center.  On this site John W Greene, Jr was the second person in the U.S. to be licensed to fly commercial airplanes and the site is distinguished as being the first African-American owned and operated airport on the eastern seaboard.  He ran it from 1941 until 1956.  In 1958 the airport was closed to all traffic and a year later, in 1959, the field became part of the Patuxent River Watershed Park as the first purchase of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

 In October of 1911 Lt. Ellyson USN and Lt. Taylor USN took the Navy's first airplane the A-1 Curtis hydroaeroplane, for an early sea trial. They lifted off from Annapolis, flew south along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. They put down near the Cedar Point lighthouse, pulled the plane on the beach and repaired the carburettor, and then flew south on to Smith Point, VirginiaIn 1943  Cedar Point became the  Patuxent River Naval Station and the home of all Naval Aircraft testing and evaluation.

In 1945 a test pilot training school was  started and in 1958 the school became the official United States Naval Test Pilot School and their museum is devoted to the United States Navy's scientific and technical research, development, testing and evaluation of its aircraft and support systems. the museum expanded and developed and in 1978 it opened its doors to the general public as one of the ten official Navy museums and in 2000 the construction of a new museum was started

 This page is currently under construction with the help of Jenny Plummer-Welker and our friends in Calvert County.  full credits will be shown on completion of this project and in the meantime, we thank them for their generous assistance.

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