The Columbia Air Center Outdoor Exhibit Area interprets the aviation history of an airfield that long ago disappeared but has not been forgotten. In 1941, aviation history was made when the first African American-owned and operated airfield in the state of Maryland was licensed on the site at the end of Croom Airport Road.
John W. Greene Jr., a pioneer in black aviation, was instrumental in developing the airfield, which was originally called Riverside Field. It was occupied by the U.S. Navy during World War II and used for training missions. After the war, Greene reopened the airfield as Columbia Air Center. It offered a flying school, charter services, and facilities for major and minor repairs. The first Black Civil Air Patrol squadron in the Washington, D.C. area, called the Columbia Squadron, was formed here. The site is located within M-NCPPC's Patuxent River Park.