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Although possibly the first recorded manned flight occurred over Baltimore in a balloon in 1784, Maryland did not pass its Uniform State Law for Aeronautics until 1927 (Chapter 637, Acts of 1927), followed by the creation of the State Aviation Commission in 1929 (Chapter 318, Acts of 1929). The Commission licensed aviators and airships, set air traffic rules, regulated the construction and operation of airfields, and otherwise conformed to federal regulations. The Commission became an administration in 1970 when the Department of Transportation was formed and in 1972 took over operation of Friendship International Airport (now BWI Thurgood Marshall) after its purchase by the State. At that time, the Administration went from three employees to over two hundred. It was renamed the Maryland Aviation Administration in 1989.

The State of Maryland now owns and operates two airports: Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) Thurgood Marshall Airport, and Martin State Airport. Both are run by the Maryland Aviation Administration, an agency of the Department of Transportation.


BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport offers both passenger and cargo flights to domestic and international destinations. It is one of the fastest growing large airports in the United States. In 2001, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport welcomed more than 20.3 million passengers. It handled 496.3 million pounds of air cargo (mail and freight), and was served by 52 airlines (including commuter, charter and cargo airlines) with 714 commercial flights daily. Nonstop flight service is available to 64 domestic and 8 international destinations. Just south of Baltimore City, the Airport lies in northern Anne Arundel County.

Providing a 24-hour U.S. Customs operation, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport is designated an official port of entry by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1997, the Airport also was designated as a European gateway for the U.S. Air Force's Air Mobility Command. In addition, the Airport has a foreign trade zone in the Air Cargo Center. With scheduled refrigerated trucking to major destinations in the Baltimore-Washington region, the Airport offers on site a 24-hour cold storage facility.

To expand and enhance service and beautify Airport facilities, a multi-million dollar construction program began in 1994 and continues. Some 3,400 public parking spaces were added to satellite lots, and a new daily parking garage opened in 2002. Since completion in 2003, the garage offers 8,400 parking spaces with a "Smart Park" vehicle guidance system to help travelers find an open parking space. A 10,500-foot runway now better accommodates long-haul traffic.

Opened in 1997, an international pier, called the Governor William Donald Schaefer International Terminal, includes the Maryland Central Light Rail Line on its lower level (Chapter 702, Acts of 1994; Code Transportation Article, sec. 5-413). Amtrak and MARC passengers may park in a five-level parking garage. In 1999, construction began on additional gates and other improvements estimated to be worth $72.5 million.


One of the largest general aviation facilities on the East Coast, Martin State Airport is located in southeastern Baltimore County. The Airport handles primarily private and corporate aircraft. Yet, it is the main base for Maryland's two Air National Guard squadrons; the Aviation Division (MED-EVAC) of the Department of State Police; the Helicopter Unit of the Baltimore City Police; and the Marine Division of Baltimore County. Martin State also has flight schools, hosts the Glenn L. Martin Aviation Museum, and provides aircraft repair and avionics facilities on site.

Martin State Airport began in 1929 as an airplane production facility built by Glenn L. Martin, an aviation designer and constructor. Before and during World War II, the Glen L. Martin Aircraft Company produced the B-10 and B-26 bombers, the China Clipper, and the Martin Mars planes at the facility. Runways also were added during the war period. In 1961, the Martin Company merged with the American Marietta Corporation to form the Martin Marietta Corporation. The State of Maryland purchased 747 acres of the Airport in 1975 from the Martin Marietta Corporation.

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 Maryland Manual On-Line, 2009

July 1, 2009   
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