The Evolution of Martin State Airpark:
A Legacy in Maryland’s Aviation History
Nestled in the Heart of Dundalk, Maryland: The Historic Martin State Airpark
In the rich tapestry of Maryland’s aviation history, few sites hold as much significance as Martin State Airpark in Dundalk, Maryland. This storied airfield, intertwined with the legacy of the Glenn L. Martin Company, has been a cornerstone in the development of both military and civil aviation in the region.
From Military Might to Civil Flight
Initially serving as the plant airport for the Glenn L. Martin Company, Martin State Airpark was a bustling hub for military aircraft production from the 1920s through the 1960s. This era saw the creation of numerous significant military aircraft, playing a pivotal role in both World Wars and beyond. Today, the remnants of this illustrious past, including the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum and old seaplane ramps, stand at the southeast corner of the airpark, serving as a reminder of its rich heritage.
A Tale of Expansion and Preservation
The history of Martin State Airpark is marked by ambitious plans and significant changes. In 1937, Glen Martin himself proposed height restrictions around the airport, anticipating the advent of large, heavy transports. By 1945, the company had invested a substantial $5.5 million in the field. Despite attempts to sell the property to the City of Baltimore, the airpark eventually found its destiny in the hands of the state. In 1974, Governor Marvin Mandel’s proposal led to the state’s acquisition of the airpark, ensuring its preservation and continued use.
Harbor Field: The Precursor to Modern Aviation in Baltimore
Before the rise of Friendship Airport (now B.W.I./Thurgood Marshall Airport), Harbor Field in Dundalk, also known as Baltimore Municipal Airport, was the region’s air travel linchpin. Opened in the early 1930s, Harbor Field was envisioned to become a major airport, leveraging Baltimore’s more favorable weather compared to New York City. This site, significant for its seaplane operations, laid the groundwork for what would become modern aviation in the area.
The Dawn of a New Era: Friendship Airport
The opening of Friendship Airport in 1950 marked the end of an era for Harbor Field and set the stage for a new chapter in Maryland’s aviation history. This transition reflected the evolving needs and technologies of air travel, with Friendship Airport introducing more advanced facilities and capabilities, eventually growing into the significant airport it is today.
A Continuing Legacy
Today, Martin State Airpark stands as more than just an airfield. It is a testament to the evolution of aviation in Maryland, embodying the state’s journey from a key manufacturing site for military aircraft to an integral part of the broader aviation infrastructure. Its runways and hangars, steeped in history, continue to serve the aviation community, reminding us of the indelible mark left by pioneers like Glenn L. Martin and the countless individuals who have shaped the skies above Maryland.