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Brinckerhoff Era

Brinckerhoff Flying Over UM
George Brinckerhoff flies over the University of Maryland, College Park campus.
Photograph Courtesy of the Prince George's County Historical Society

George Brinckerhoff took over management of College Park Airport in 1927 and ran it until 1959, hosting numerous airshows and teaching hundreds of pilots to fly during his tenure.

By the 1930s, flying had become a national pastime. Airports and airfields all over the country hosted exciting air meets and air shows attracted thousands of spectators. Cars packed with picnic lunches and men, women, and children dressed in their Sunday best would come to College Park Airport and make a whole day of it. They watched some of the best-known aviators of the day participating in air races, mock bombing competitions, and stunt flying expositions.

The Washington Air Derby Association, DC Air Legion, Washington Women's Pilots Association and other aviation groups sponsored these huge events with airport manager George Brinckerhoff. "Brinck" so thrilled the nation's capital that requests began to pour in for him to repeat his popular airshows. Some of the most notable pilots of the time, both men and women, flew in these meets, including stunt flyers "Squeak" Burnett and Jessie Woods, as well as famous female pilots Helen MacClosky, Edna Gardner, Helen Frigo and others.

Brinckerhoff Flying Over UM
Brinckerhoff Flying Service plane over the University of Maryland.
Photograph Courtesy of the Prince George's County Historical Society

The Monocoupe, which went into production in the early 1930s was a common sight at many of these air meets. This powerful little plane was often the choice of pilots racing in the airfield's most well-known contest - the Langley Day Air Meet, named in honor of aviation pioneer Samuel Langley. This event, like most others at the field, took on an almost social quality, providing entertainment and sport for a nation hungry for such a diversion.

George Brinckerhoff encouraged this festive and competitive spirit to make aviation accessible to everyone. He transformed the airfield with checkered pylons and wonderfully decorated grandstands to show off the trophies and prizes to be won. These popular activities once again put College Park on the map as the site where thousands of spectators could come to satisfy their curiosity about aviation, just as they had at the founding of the airfield in 1909.