Have you ever wanted to sneak into an abandoned airport, left to wither and submit to the vagaries of time? Well, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be in a place like this, then today could be your lucky day.
Deserted and devoid of any human presence, the following airports and airbases might once have played a crucial role, but today they hardly even ring a bell with most people. For whatever reason, these airfields have somehow fallen into total disuse, leaving many military bases, airplane boneyards and aircrafts debris behind.
Admittedly, these already rusty airports and planes must have been considered quite innovative years and decades ago; however, times change and so do the technological demands. Interestingly, even factors like the geopolitical strife could interfere with the best-laid airplane plans. Sometimes the result of that is dozens of non-functional commercial airports, which once had the state-of-the-art aura, but are now rusting into the absolute wreckage.
And if you dare to bear the sight of it, we’d like to show you 25 of the world’s most freakish airports and run-down runways around the world.
Now come and enter this fallen kingdom of concrete and metal, which is admittedly a bit chilling, but super spellbinding as well.
25 The Nicosia Airport Almost Disappeared After The Turkish Invasion
This old airport, which used to be bustling with people all day long, now sits lonely and derelict somewhere in Cyprus. The Nicosia airport is no longer a beautiful creation made of concrete and metal but a super bizarre "attraction" for visitors.
After the Turkish invasion, the US stepped in, turning the entire Nicosia Airport into a buffer zone. Typically, this would mean putting an end to its function as an airport. As a result, Cyprus was split into two parts, namely North and South Cyprus, and the airport just fell into that buffer zone. Even to this date, nothing particularly exciting and different has happened there. The place really looks as though it's been stuck in time for years.
24 No More Flights To Montserrat?
In 1997, most of Plymouth - this formerly beautiful Caribbean island's capital - was destroyed after the massive Montserrat volcanic eruption. Unfortunately, the entire airport also went down in ashes. So, the eruption has eventually led to the evacuation of the area.
About two-thirds of the population of Plymouth fled the area the same year, while the rest of it found shelter in the neighboring islands of Barbados and Antiqua. Gladly for the locals and tourists, the capital of Plymouth built a new airport in 2005 while the old one still lies in shambles and total desolation.
23 A Conflict Laid Waste To The Gaza & Dahaniya Airport
Located in the Gaza Strip, the Gaza & Dahaniya International Airport debuted in 1998 and was considered quite an expensive project at the time. The construction of the airport leaped beyond the insane amount of $85 Million, but they completed it anyway.
Once it was up and running, The Gaza& Dahaniya Airport could absolutely sustain at least 700,000 passengers on an annual basis. The project of the airport was actually funded by a dozen countries - from Saudi Sarabia, Morocco, Japan to Germany - which explains the reason behind the united furor when the airport was bombarded by the Israeli forces.
22 The Kalamaki Airfield Once Served Millions of People
Sometimes Mother Nature decides to reclaim what's hers, and the sight of that could be quite mesmerizing. In this case, the reclaimed thing happens to be the old Kalamaki Airfield in Greece.
Once known as a reliable and well-built airport, the Kalamaki Airfield was eventually overpowered by the German air force as a result of the rising conflict between the two countries at the time. The airport was built in 1939 and was Greece's only international airport until 2001. During the last year of its service, the airport gained a top capacity of over 13 million people but was shut down due to the construction of a newer one.
21 The Original Don Quixote Airport Is Right Here
Formerly known as the Don Quixote Airport, the Cuidad Real Central Aiport was probably at least twice as expensive as the Gaza & Dahaniya project. The construction of the Cuidad Real Central Airport went over €1.1 billion, becoming Spain's first international private airport. According to the original plan, The Don Quixote Airport had to take the surplus passengers off the capital's primary airport. However, Madrid's airport got bigger and bigger, so its capacity had to be expanded to over 70 million passengers when Don Quixote could only serve up to 10 million people a year. In the end, the management was practically forced to shut down the Don Quixote Airport due to its capacity problems.
20 The Kai Tak International Airport Now Lies Barren And Useless
Kai Tak International Airport had to experience similar issues when Hong Kong's fairly new international airport was built 30 miles west of the original site of Kai Tak International Airport. The unexpected change could only mean one thing for the old airport - it would soon become devoid of any sound and presence.
But on the bright side, Kai Tak never really proved its safety and reliability as it was considered dangerous for takeoffs and landings anyway. Kai Tak's runway track 13 was thought of as quite unsafe since the aircraft had to make a 90-degree turn to avoid landing on water.
19 The Ellinikon International Airport Was Shut Down Too Soon
The once-bustling Ellinikon International Airport now sits desolately silent In Athens, Greece. If you can pluck up some courage to come here, you'll inevitably be able to feel the aura of loneliness and wretchedness. This airport, which would bustle with life all day long, is now covered in dust, strewing its walls and floors. The tarmac of the airport has not been spared by the time either. Another fallen hero here is the single Boeing 747 - the famous metal bird that would fly back and forth until the airport was shut down in 2001. Since then, this wretched airport has been the hotspot for many refugees waiting to cross the Macedonian border.
18 This Runway X Is Apparently Not Eligible For Landing
Just because an airport falls into disuse doesn't necessarily mean that the maintenance ceases to exist. In this case, the X on the runway clearly shows that the pilots are simply not allowed to land or take off here.
Upon seeing this big yellow cross on the runway, the pilot should know that the airport in question is off-limits; therefore he must find another place to land the plane until the case is solved, and the airport is adequately reconstructed. Until then, this runway X will probably remain just as spooky and deserted as it has ever been.
17 The Traces Of An Old Rangsdorf Soviet Airport
The so-called Rangsdorf Soviet Airport opened in 1936 but stood testament to a myriad of historical events. Initially, Rangsdorf was considered to be a sporting airport; however, it soon began to handle international flights as well. In this exact location, the famed Claus von Stauffenberg would often plot against his enemy, the leader of Germany. But unfortunately for his peers, his plans failed and Claus paid with his life. Later on, this same airport was claimed by the Soviets but they, too, left the area in 1944.
Since then, this long-forgotten airport has been known as a warehouse of lost souls, where the emptiness is often filled with budding hope. But sadly enough, this ray of hope always crumbles into despair when the sun sets behind the horizon.
16 West Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport Will Give You The Creeps
This spooky place is not only the last place where you'd want to be but it even looks like a scene from Hunger Games. But unlike the movie, where everyone is focused on their own survival, West Berlin’s Tempelhof airport is clearly devoid of any life whatsoever. The airport was partly shut down amid controversy but later on, the city tried to convert it into a recreational area. But from the looks of things, the airport hasn't accomplished its goal as it now looks quite freakish and deserted. If you dare to come here, you'll surely feel certain vibes of uneasiness in the air. Indeed, it's just what this place does to you.
15 The Ugolny Airport Is Like An Ancient Relic In Eastern Russia
Conveniently located in the coldest parts of Russia, The Ugolny Airport is a mixed-use civilian and military aerodrome sitting on the Gulf of Anadyr. It may still be reachable by boat or a helicopter, but it's completely useless as a traditional airport. Also, the remote location of the abandoned Ugolny Airport was part of a strategic plan in case of a rising conflict with another country. Once known as a staging post for Tupelov Tu-95 Bears or Tu-22M Backfires, which would breathe fire for years, the Ugolny Airport is now like an ancient relic in the eastern parts of Russia.
14 Johnston Atoll Airport - A Place Of Secrets
The old Johnston Atoll Airport was actually used as a secret base where certain military gadgets were put to the test. The purpose of it was to test certain military devices, store chemical spills, and all the like, which practically rendered life in this military base next to impossible. Initially, the Atoll Airport was rather small for a base - it was only 23 hectares big - but later on, the US stepped in and expanded the base up to 265 hectares. But since the abandonment of the Johnston Atoll Airport, the place has been sinking back into the surrounding sea. As a matter of fact, the entire region is now considered a wildlife refuge, and it's completely off-limits to the public unless you've got a special authorization for visitations.
13 Orange County Military Base, Irvine, California
Many years ago, this Orange County military base was used as the unique backdrop of Independence Day. But it’s no longer an old airport, which would give you the creeps, but a beautiful recreational area, suitable for joggers, marathon runners, picnic and family reunions. Thankfully, the city planners have rolled up their sleeves, so they're currently quite busy breathing new life into this barren airport. According to the plan, the Orange County military base would be converted into a much friendlier place with art installations, palm gardens and all the like.
12 Castellón-Costa Azahar Airport Went From Bustling To Deserted
Castellón-Costa Azahar Airport is yet another major airport, which also made the transition from a super busy to completely deserted airfield. Who could've known that such a big airport would end up like this, right? Sadly though, this abandoned airplane was officially open in 2011 but no commercial flight was ever scheduled there. But even though Castellón-Costa Azahar Airport has fallen into disuse, there's another airport near the charming city of Valencia that has been taken over by Ryanair. So, at least the entire area hasn't become completely barren, which is a relief to a certain extent.
11 The Pre-World War II Croydon Airport, UK
Croydon Airport is actually one of the three legendary airports in Europe that were redolent of the early aviation. Note that many prominent figures and world leaders often used the services of the Croydon Airport. The runway crossed a road with a super heavy traffic, so it had to be cleared before the plane took off. There was a man who had to wave a red flag as a way to warn that the plane is ready to lift off with its prominent passengers on board. All of this could only mean one thing - the Croydon Airport, UK, used to be favored by lots of aristocrats and world leaders at the time. For instance, Winston Churchill would often grace its runway as well.
10 The RAF Binbrook, UK
Another abandoned member of the UK air force that played a key role in World War II is the so-called RAF Binbrook. Apparently, the UK has got a pretty great number of disused airfields and airports waiting to be transformed into a relic or a tourist attraction. RAF Binbrook is located near Brookenby and was also used by the Airforce until the 1980s. Actually, it was exactly this airport that was also used to hit bombers during World War II. As famous as it is, the RAF Binbrook, UK, even inspired the 1990 movie, Memphis Belle. Obviously, RAF Binbrook has even left a mark in the movie industry.
9 Stapleton International Airport, USA
This long-forgotten airport served Denver, Colorado for decades before it was finally shut down in 1995. Today, Stapleton International Airport is no longer operating since it was eventually replaced by the Denver International. A few years later, a storm caused some serious damage to the entire structure of the airport as it nearly destroyed it. As a result, the entire area of the Stapleton International Airport was knocked down. There was no point in reconstructing it, so all that remains from it is a pretty unattractive old control tower and a barren airport that nobody remembers.
8 Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, USA
Did you know that other scenes from the 1996 sci-fi blockbuster Independence Day were filmed exactly at this location? The Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, USA, set in the middle of the Californian desert, really looks as though it was the sort of place where extra-terrestrial forces would use the location for battleships and other purposes. But unlike the Independence Day, where aliens reside in such an abandoned place like the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, this one was eventually shut down in 1999 due to the lack of demand and need.
7 Galeville, Shawangunk, USA
When compared to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, USA, this one – Galeville, Shawangunk – was considerably smaller. Originally, the construction of Galeville didn’t exactly include any ideas of airplanes taking off and landing any other minute. So, the airport wasn’t really meant for great purposes other than academic ones.
But since the airfield was built during World War II, it was later retrofitted with two paved runways. Eventually, it became eligible for operating as a civilian airport, not only as a military one. Today, it’s no longer a functional airport but it's part of the respected Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge.
6 Floyd Bennett Field, New York, USA
This ancient-looking airport was one of New York’s best and major airports a few years ago. And if you reflect deeply on it, it will probably dawn on you that the Floyd Bennett Field is also quite synonymous with Amelia Earhart’s exploits from the old days. So, this also explains why this exact airport enjoyed such popularity and fame back in the day. But from today’s perspective, even such fame cannot keep the airport from falling apart. In a nutshell, its best days are long gone and so is its purpose as a civilian airport. Today, the Floyd Bennett Field in NY is a public area lined up with historic buildings that once were part of that airport.
5 Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, USA
Similarly to some of the previous examples, Robert Mueller Municipal Airport operated for several years before it was officially shut down. According to the initial plan, the airport had to operate in the city of Austin, Texas but was eventually sealed and replaced by a considerably better, newer and much more modern airport – the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. It’s been decades since the official abandonment of the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, so there’s hardly anyone who actually remembers its glorious days. Perhaps only the old control tower, which is also on the brink of collapse, reminds us of that old airport which once operated there.
4 Montreal Mirabel Airport, Canada
Although Montreal Mirabel in Canada was really supposed to be a major hub for lots of commercial flights, the opening didn’t really manage to attract much attention back in the day. Besides, after its official debut in 1975, it became quite difficult for the Montreal Mirabel to get passengers to use its services and fork over the fare for distant locations. Thus, the airport quickly fell into disuse, so it was eventually repurposed into a testing ground. By the way, the Montreal Mirabel in Canada even inspired the creation of The Terminal (2004), which is quite fantastic for an abandoned airport anyway.
3 RAF Upper Heyford Airport, UK
Similarly to the RAF Binbrook Airport in the UK, the RFC Airbase has also seen long episodes of battles and warships; however, unlike the RAF Binbrook, the RFC Airbase actually started out in 1915 and kept things going for quite a while. Once World War II was over, the airport was leased by the US Air Force. But later on, in 1994, the airfield was eventually handed over to the UK but that move was probably in vain since the airport is currently out of use anyway. At least, the RFC Airbase is quite close to Oxford University and Bicester Village shopping store, so you won’t feel like you’ve ended up in the middle of nowhere.
2 David Monthan Airfield, Arizona, USA
Surprisingly enough, David Monthan Airfield happens to be the largest airplane boneyard, or at least it used to be back in the day. As big as it was at the time, this airport currently houses previous aircraft bodies from the Coast Guard and the US Army. When it comes to the David Monthan Airforce base, it’s located just across the boneyard and it’s rarely used for any operational missions anymore. But if you’ve already decided to come here and explore the area, then you can also visit The Saguaro National Park, The famous Prima Air, and the nearby Space Museum.
1 The Željava Air Base Located Between Croatia And Bosnia & Herzegovina
This peculiar air base was actually constructed underneath the locally famous Plješevica Mountain, nearby the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. What’s quite interesting about this abandoned airfield is that it was supposed to be a “secret”. The airport had the codename “Objekat 505” and was finally completed in 1965. The entire project was estimated at about $6 Billion because it had to serve as a major and quite strategic command center. According to Atlas Obscura, the airport was meant to work as a long-range radar warning system; however, the base fell into total disuse in 1991 when the National Army Force of Yugoslavia decided to destroy it by “spraying” the area with tons of explosives.
References: mentalfloss.com, theculturetrip.com, skyscanner.net, hotcars.com