Abandoned and little-known airfields

Originally published at: Abandoned and little-known airfields | Boing Boing


My favorite “abandoned” airfield is listed: Basecamp. Those of us who flew sailplanes out of Tonopah Municipal Airport in the 90s and 00s knew it well, as it was a pristine 7300 ft paved runway that wasn’t on the charts and the only safe place to land for nearly 100 miles to the east of Tonopah. To the south was the prohibited (as in you will be forced or shot down) airspace covering the Tonopah Test Range and Area 51. To the north was mountains and rocky scrub land (there was Route 6, but it was staked to prevent use by drug planes). Mostly, those who were forced to land at Basecamp were greeted by a pair of bored security guards who wouldn’t allow a tow plane to land for pickup, but would allow a trailer retrieve.

Once, though, a UK national landed there while the airfield was in use (an unmarked C-130 was parked there) and was met by a truck load of soldiers in unmarked uniforms waving M-16s. He was interrogated, briefly detained, and his sailplane was confiscated. It took appeals by local politicians and the UK Consulate to get it back. The one time I landed there, the security guards offered me a beer while we waited for someone to come get me.


Around Toronto, there were a lot of airfields that have been eaten up by the Burb Monster.

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Growing up, the local roller skating rink was in a hanger from an airfield that was replaced by a shopping mall. If you look at Google Earth, you can find a bunch of old airfields on the island of Malta. Almost as much fun as picking out old forts from the Maginot Line in France.


The Disney Imagineering Campus in Glendale is on an old airfield. There’s a recently restored Art Deco terminal building from the 1930’s, and one or two of the warehouse buildings where they work on various ride prototypes were hangars from the 1940s or so.

I’m glad that Disney has now abandoned their stupid plans to move Imagineering out of that historic campus and into a new one in Florida in pursuit of a tax break.


thanks for this Rob. Pleasant to lose a few minutes reading about abandoned airfields near my house.

My Grandpap’s house was right across the street from the Bettis atomic plant and my Dad recalled a time when it was still an airport.

We always thought of the place as being in West Mifflin but I suppose it might have once been within the borders of McKeesport, although it doesn’t seem all that likely. It’s nearer to Dravosburg and Duquesne. And nobody there thinks of McKeesport as a suburb of Pittsburgh. Maybe you’re drawing the conclusion from the name of the street that runs around one side - Pittsburgh-McKeesport Boulevard.

I spent many weekends there as a kid while my Dad flew with the gliding club. It was built for Cold War use, it’s a shame to see it rot away.


Got a bit gentrified since I last saw it in person.


As a kid, my grandparents used to take me to the rather marshy shores of Canarsie, Brooklyn. From there one could observe military a/c flying out of Floyd Bennett Field when it was a naval air base. (No way to forget the F-4 that buzzed us one day!)


England is full of ex-airstrips from WW2. A few are still in use, but all that’s left of most of them are just strangely straight strips through fields(1), or parks(2).
Not to be confused with Roman roads, which are also oddly straight, but are mostly still used as roads.

(1) former RAF Northleach
(2) former Whitchurch (Bristol) Airport


Cool! My very first paycheck job (around 1980) was at a tennis center that was formerly the Baton Rouge Downtown Airport. There were indoor courts inside the old hangar:

One of my duties was to open and close the giant doors on each end. These were on metal rollers but still very heavy, and it took all of my 15-year-old strength to move them.

The courts are still there, but the hangar doors are now solid walls.


Man, there are a lot of these near me, one of which I can walk to - it’s where they used to build the ERCO Ercoupe. That one is close to (and possibly overlaps) what is now a Washington Metro station; the station 2 stops away also used to be an airport.


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