Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ghost Airports - A Tour of Paul Freeman's Abandoned and Little-Known Airports Archive

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I’ve long enjoyed drifting over to Paul Freeman’s website dedicated to abandoned and little-known airfields ( and killing more time than I like to admit browsing the pictures and old aeronautical charts that are all that remain of these once vibrant airports.

I finally decided to block out the time to get Paul on the phone and talk at length about the site and what drives him to develop and maintain this wonderful archive.

If you can, try to listen to this episode at your computer and follow along. You’ll hear a lot of mouse clicking and other background noise as I follow Paul around the site and comment on what’s there.)

I was particularly struck by some of the military installations from World War II. We needed pilots in great numbers in the minimum possible time. We built facilities rapidly and used the heck out of them. Paved hexagons and octagons. Stars and spoked layouts. Or fields with nothing but an open space with a windsock in the middle. These fields made pilots efficiently and proudly. Then we abandoned them. I’m as happy as the next guy that they became unnecessary (i.e. that the war ended), but what an amazing amount of history is lost when you build a shopping mall or a subdivision on top of these grand dames of American history.

I think I’d like to go find a few of these and fly over them. Particularly Raco Landing Field / Raco Army Airfield in northern Michigan. You can practically see it from space! Look for the triangular feature in the middle of this satellite view on Google.

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Photo: Aircraft in front of the Wilson Aero Corporation hangar at Glendale Airport (Glendale Airport / Grand Central Air Terminal, Glendale, California). Photo is believed to be in the public domain. Airspeed’s DMCA Contact is Steve Tupper, reachable through the contact information in the profile sidebar.

1 comment:

Edward Vielmetti said...

Stephen - thanks for this interview, Bill Tozier pointed me at it.

There's an airfield in the UP, the "Dexter Landing Field" between Ishpeming and Champion on US-41, which for a while was turned into Nick's 41 Speedway for homebrew yooper drag racing. (Think converted snowmobile engines for propulsion.) I sent him what info I could find.