Europe tops the world’s continents, housing seven out of the ten oldest airports in the world. Germany boasts of having two of the oldest continuously operational airports. Most of these airports were extensively used as military bases during both World War I and World War II. While some have been modernized, others still retain historical architectural components. The oldest airports in the world include the College Park Airport in the United States, Hamburg Airport in Germany, and Shoreham Airport in the United Kingdom, among others.
The Oldest Airports In The World
College Park Airport
College Park Airport in the U.S. state of Maryland is the oldest airport that is still in operation. The airport was established in the year 1909 as a training field by the Wright brothers, and was used to train two military men to fly the U.S. Federal government’s first airplane. The airport has been continuously operated since then and is a getaway to Prince George’s County, Maryland and Washington, DC. The airport was home to the first female passenger flown in a powered aircraft in 1909. The first airplane to make a mile-high flight took off from College Park Airport. The airport has been operated by Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission since 1973.It is located near the Metro Rail network which makes it readily available for commuters. Additional facilities include weather briefing, fueling services, and a pilot’s lounging area.
Ljungbyhed Airport can be found in Southern Sweden. The grounds of the airport have a long history associated with the Swedish Air Force, having been used for military purposes since at least the year 1658. Flights have been taking off from the airport since 1910, and a flying school was established on the grounds in June of 1915. It is presently used for training by the Lund University School of Aviation. It is unique for being one of the busiest airports in Sweden for flight takeoffs and landings, with over 90,000 per year.
Hamburg Airport is the oldest airport in Germany, and was established in 1911. Hamburg Airport is currently the fifth largest airport in Germany and is 8.5 kilometers away from the city of Hamburg. It was primarily launched as an airship base and was widely used during World War I. The airport has been under modernization program in the last two decades. Construction plans included two terminals, a metro rail network, wide roads and designated parking spaces. The airport handled an estimated 158,398 flights to more than 100 destinations across the world in 2015. The number of passengers handled by the airport annually is estimated at 13 million.
Shoreham Airport in the United Kingdom was established in 1911, and the first flying school there was launched in 1913. It was the airport base for John Alcock, one of the first men to fly across the Atlantic. It also served as the base for the first British aircraft during World War I. The airport served Brighton, Worthing, and Hove during the 1930s. Shoreham Airport would also act as a military base in the World War II and came under attack on numerous occasions. Notably, the Art Deco terminal building opened for use in 1936 is still operational today. The airport is mainly used for helicopters and light aircraft flights in a present day. It is used by flying schools and for the occasional air shows.
Bucharest Aurel Vlaicu Airport
Bucharest Aurel Vlaicu Airport, also known as Baneasa Airport, is the oldest airport in Romania as well as the oldest in the whole of Eastern Europe. Until 1965 when the Otopeni airport was constructed, it was the only operational airport in Romania. The airport is named after Aurel Vlaicu, who was a renowned Romanian airplane builder and pilot. In 1920, the airport became the base for the French-Romanian Company for Air Navigation, one of the first global aviation companies. The terminal building still in use was opened in 1952 and is considered an architectural landmark in modern-day Romania. The airport was fully converted to a business airport in 2012 because the commercial traffic was over-stretching the airport’s facilities and there was inadequate space for expansion. The airport was a base for estimated 11,348 aircraft movements in 2015.
Other Airports Founded In 1920 Or Earlier
Europe has four of the other ten oldest airports, namely including Bremen Airport in Germany, which was founded in 1913, Rome Ciampino Airport in Italy (1916), Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in the Netherlands (1916), and Parise Le-Bourget Airport in France (1919). Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand (1914) and Sydney Kingsford Smith in Australia (1920) also make the list. These airports also serve as historical landmarks in their respective countries, and represent advancements in air travel technology.