|Police Protect World's
Oldest Operating Airport|
Capital News Service
Friday, Nov. 9, 2001
ANNAPOLIS - Local police agencies have rescued the world's oldest
operating airport from obscurity.
Maryland State Police, Prince George's County Police and various military
organizations have been landing their planes and helicopters at the College Park
Airport, keeping its title alive, since private operations were banned in the
wake of terrorist attacks, said Lee Schiek, College Park Airport general
The airport's role in aviation history has been threatened since the
federal government imposed an 18-nautical mile no-fly zone over Washington,
D.C., after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade
Police and military organizations are among only a few agencies authorized
to fly in the zone.
"We still have daily traffic," Schiek said. "The airport is being used in
the official sense."
Maryland State Police have landed at the College Park Airport,
confirmed Cpl. Rob Moroney, a police spokesman; however, he would not say how often or
when they land for security reasons.
Prince George's County Police landed at the airport "several times" since
Sept. 11, said Cpl. Joe Merkel, a police spokesman, who also declined to be
specific about police air operations.
The airport's historical title may be saved, but it will all be for
nothing if the place goes out of business.
The airport has been losing about $15,000 a day because of the no-fly
zone, Schiek said. The Federal Aviation Administration is supposed to announce
when restrictions will be reduced, he said, but he hasn't heard much.
"Operationally, nothing has changed since Sept. 11," Schiek said. "We're
just eagerly waiting, day-by-day, to resume operations."
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission owns the
airport and has reassured them that they won't have to close, Schiek said.
"We have been given a briefing, and they have pledged to maintain the
airport until we can resume operations," he said.
Six general aviation airports in Maryland remain under the no-fly zone.
All except the College Park Airport are privately owned and are at risk of
having to sell their property.
Four Maryland Congress members wrote a letter Thursday to the Office of
Management and Budget director calling for the federal government to address the
"All of these airports have been closed for national security reasons and
we appreciate and understand the administration's decision," said the letter,
signed by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Baltimore; Rep. Al Wynn, D-Largo; Sen. Paul
Sarbanes, D-Baltimore, and Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville. "However, we firmly believe that it is incumbent on the federal government to immediately
provide relief equal to their financial losses."
Copyright © 2001 University of Maryland College of
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