In this article we talk about the oldest airports in the world, from the year 1909 and some of them working until today.
Most of these airports were used as military bases during World War I and World War II. While some have been modernized, others still retain historic architectural components. Let’s take a look at the highlights.
College Park Airport in Maryland, United States (1909)
College Park Airport in the state of Maryland is the oldest airport still in operation. It was established in 1909 as a training camp by the Wright brothers, and was used to train two military men to fly the first U.S. federal government aircraft.
The airport occupies 28.32 hectares, with a runway of 795 × 18 m and its surface is asphalt. The runway was named after Corporal Frank S. Scott, who was the first person enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces to die in a military plane, the plane crash occurred at this airport.
The airport’s operations have been restricted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) since the September 11, 2001 attacks and because of its proximity to Washington D.C., but it is still free for civilian pilots after passing background check procedures.
Hamburg Airport, Germany (1911)
It was opened in 1911 but over the last few years has been completing a major modernization that includes a new terminal, new access routes and a connection to Hamburg’s rapid transit system. It is located about 8.5 km northwest of Hamburg city center.
It is one of the most important airports in Germany. It operates domestic and international flights to all major destinations in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
In 1923, 5,100 passengers departed and arrived at this airport; just one year later, the number increased to 17,350.
Due to a good camouflage it was possible to prevent the airport from being hit by allied bombs during the Second World War, a conflict during which it functioned as an air base for the National Socialist army. After the war, it served as an airstrip for the Royal British Air Force, and was renamed “Hamburg Airport”.
Hamburg Airport was remodeled in 2001 and its record number of annual travelers was increased to 13 million, making it the fifth largest airport in Germany. By 2020, 5 million more passengers will pass through its facilities annually.
Shoreham Airport, UK (1911)
Brighton City Airport, is also known as Shoreham airport, located in West Sussex, England. Founded in 1910, it is the second oldest airport in the United Kingdom and one of the oldest commercial airports in the world.
It is used by privately owned light aircraft, flight schools, light aircraft and helicopter maintenance. Different operators provide aeronautical training, tourism and leisure flights. At this airport you can experience flying in one of the two Harvard T-6, World War II training aircraft, based here. A real “vintage” jewel.
In May 2014, Brighton City Airport Ltd (BCAL) took over ownership of the airport and its operations, which was then named Shoreham Airport, taking over from Albemarle. Once the acquisition was completed, the airport was officially named the City of Brighton (Shoreham) Airport.
Bucharest Airport Aurel Vlaicu, Romania (1912)
Founded in 1912, it is located in the Băneasa district of the Romanian capital.
It was the only airport in Bucharest until 1968, when the Otopeni Airport (today Henri International Airport Coandă) was built. The decision to build a new airport was taken due to the proximity of the Băneasa airport to the city center and the consequent increase in pollution and noise.
It is named after Aurel Vlaicu, a Romanian engineer, inventor, aircraft builder and pilot, considered one of the pioneers of world aviation.
Until March 2012, when it became a business airport, Aurel Vlaicu International was the second airport in Romania in terms of air traffic.
Bremen Airport, Germany (1913)
The airport was founded in 1913 when the Bremen Senate granted the Aviation Association official permission to use the site as an air base.
In 1920 the company KLM was already flying to Amsterdam from there. Later on, flights to destinations such as Brazil and New York were added, and in 1989 it managed to exceed one million passengers.
Inside the airport there is a small museum about aviation and space exploration, showing the Junkers W33 Bremen aircraft and the first module of the Spacelab space laboratory, which was built in the German capital.
Today, it serves approximately 2.4 million passengers, which are headed to various destinations from the German city.
Don Mueang International Airport Bangkok, Thailand (1914)
Don Mueang International Airport, also known as Don Muang is the second airport in the city of Bangkok, and ranks second in Thailand in terms of annual number of passengers.
It has been operating since 1914 and began commercial operations in 1924.
It was the busiest airport in Thailand until 2006, when it was replaced by Suvarnabhumi Airport. It is now known as Bangkok’s low-cost airport.
It operates mainly with domestic flights. It has two terminals, T1 for international flights and T2 for domestic flights. In the year 2017 almost 38 million passengers used this airport.
Berlin Tempelhof Airport (1923)
In 1909 small flights began to be made from this airport, but it was not until 1923 that it began to be officially considered an airport. Later, in 1926, the airline Lufthansa was founded and established its base at this airport.
Thanks to its privileged location near the city center, Tempelhof became one of the world’s busiest airports and the largest building in the world until the Pentagon was created.
During World War II, the airport was home to a concentration camp where workers were forced to produce airplanes. The Americans and the British turned it into the landing base for the air transport that provided food and fuel to millions of West Berliners. Tempelhof thus became a symbol of freedom in the eyes of the Western world.
Tempelhof was closed in 2010 and became one of the largest urban parks in the world. With 380 hectares, the Berlin park exceeds the mythical Central Park in New York.
If you also want to know which are the oldest airlines, you can read this article.