When you think of airports, you probably picture them full of busy people, so it’s a bit of a shock to see them empty. People who went on vacation left these empty shells out in the weather a long time ago, and time has since played with them. But don’t worry, you won’t be exploring them on your own. We’ll always be there for you.
Greek is a nickname.
Passengers: 10 million per annum
Hellinikon, also known as “The Greek,” has been around since the 1930s. It used to be very popular, but now it is in ruins. You ask, “What could have happened?” In 2021, the president of the Olympic Airlines Workers’ Cultural Center, Vasilis Tsatsaragkos, told CNN that the world had moved on without the Hellinkon.
“By the end of the 1990s, the airport was seeing well over 10 million passengers a year,” Vasilis said. “Hellenikon couldn’t meet the country’s tourism needs, which were growing quickly.” Since then, Hellinikon has been left empty because the economy is bad and the government can’t agree on anything. However, there are still plans to turn it into a vacation center.
The airport at Davidstow
Use it in a different way: Formula 1 racing track
Davidstow Airfield is in a rural part of England. It was an airbase for the Royal Air Force until it closed in 1945. Five years later, the site was used as a racing track, where a very different kind of vehicle was driven. In fact, there were three Formula 1 races there.
Ghosts of the past
A lot of the buildings have been torn down since then, but there’s still a hangar-on if you will. Graffiti artists have used an old control tower that can still be climbed as a canvas. If the stories are true, you might even see one of Davidstow’s famous ghosts. Or is that just a fantasy?
The Horten Ho IX/Ho 229 was put to the test there.
Built-in: the 1930s
After it was built in the late 1930s, Flugplatz Oranienburg was not only used to build planes, but also to host a very famous one. The Horten Ho IX, also known as the Ho 229 and better known to people who aren’t into aviation as the first “stealth” bomber, was put through its paces at the airfield.
Sounds from the past
So, what went wrong? Well, the airfield was a target for the Allies during World War II, and what wasn’t destroyed was then taken by the Soviets. Since then, not much has been built on the land, except for a few attempts at a business here and there. Still, among all the rubble, a large hangar building is mostly still standing. This shows what Flugplatz Oranienburg may have looked like when it was at its best.
End of the 1980s
Miller Airport was first called Nartron Field. It was built in 1956 by Miller Industries. The most unusual thing about it was the auditorium, which could hold up to 1,200 people and was used for fan events called “Dawn Patrol.” In 1979, the Nartron Corporation bought it, but within a decade, they had given it up to time and the weather.
Even though Nartron Field is old, it still has a retro look on the outside, but the inside is a mess. Vandals have already done the damage that the weather didn’t do, as the broken windows and walls covered in graffiti show. The only thing left of the airport that shows it was ever used is a few rusting pieces of big equipment.
Current use: Wildlife reserve
Melli Beese and the Wright brothers are well-known pilots.
Amelie “Melli” Beese, who is likely Germany’s best female pilot, learned to fly at the Flugplatz Johannisthal airfield, but that’s not its only claim to fame. There was also a time when experimental planes, like those made by the Wright brothers, were put to the test there. At its height of popularity, lots of people went to the field to watch planes take off and crash.
Back to the wild
If you looked at the rooms and hangars at the airfield now, you wouldn’t think it was so well-known. It lost its civil aviation in 1923, and since then it has been steadily getting worse. But even though it hasn’t been used since the runways closed in 1995, it hasn’t been completely forgotten. Johannisthal is now a wildlife reserve, so the birds that used to live there have moved on.
Army Airfield Blythe
During the war, Blythe Airfield did a good job for its country. After that, though, it was thought that its job was done, and the site was pretty much left alone. Since a new airport was built on top of it, you could say that the site still has some use. But a lot of the old airfield is still pretty much stuck in the past.
Old building shells from the base are all over the area. They are in different states of disrepair and rise out of the desert like ghosts. Graffiti artists have climbed up on the collapsing roofs to spray paint their tags and slogans on the crumbling walls. They are either brave or stupid. People who live there say that the sand still covers up military secrets from the past.
Yasser Arafat Airport is a big one.
Bill Clinton, who was president of the United States at the time, was at a service to open the Yasser Arafat International Airport. Even though Gaza’s politics were chaotic, it was seen as a sign of peace. Tragically, it didn’t work out that way, and the airport and its landing strip were damaged several times by the war. Then, thieves took anything valuable that was left, and the airport has been left empty ever since.
Even after more than 20 years, the site is still in bad shape. In 2018, the complex’s chief engineer, Daifallah al-Akhras, went there and was so upset by how bad it was that he cried. He told The Times of Israel about it. He said, “We built the airport so that it would be the first sign of independence. Now, all you can see is ruin and destruction.”
The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
Aircraft stored: 4,400+
The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base airport doesn’t work, and it hasn’t for a long time. In fact, it hasn’t been used in this way since 1946 at the latest. Instead, it has, for lack of a better word, come back to life and now has the most planes of any site in the world.
So, if Davis-Monthan is no longer an airstrip or an airport, what is it? Well, over the years, many places that store planes have moved their fees to Davis-Monthan and consolidated them. Now, it is known as the largest military aircraft graveyard in the world, and the 309th Aerospace Maintenance & Regeneration Group is based there. Davis-Monthan holds more than 4,400 planes right now.
Nicosia International Airport
It shut down in 1977
Passengers: 800,000 people total
Nicosia International Airport was a hub of activity forty-four years ago, but now it only helps people leave. Cyprus was first a British colony, and then it became its own country. But Turkey and Greece’s political differences caused the country to break up in the end. This put Nicosia International in a buffer zone between the two groups. This zone was called the “green line.”
The airport is pretty much abandoned at this point, which is why the public can’t use it. Officials from the government still use Nicosia airport to talk about peace from time to time, but right now the only people there are plants trying to reclaim their land, planes that have been stripped of parts, and trash from urban conflict.
Airport of Johnston Atoll
Location: The Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean island of Johnston Atoll, which is close to Hawaii, is now a National Wildlife Refuge that can only be reached by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But it has an interesting past. Before the Environmental Protection Agency cleaned it up, it was a military base where dangerous materials were kept.
In case of trouble
The military stopped using the atoll in 2004, and the airstrip closed the next year. Since then, the Johnston Atoll Airport has been mostly forgotten, except in the direst situations. Sometimes, both military and civilian vehicles use it in case of an emergency.
Ciudad Real Central Airport
Construction cost: $1,089,639,807
Currently used for: storing planes
Forbes said in 2019 that Spain’s Ciudad Real airport was built 150 miles from the city and cost more than a billion dollars to build. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that it had very few flights and eventually shut down because it cost more to keep the doors open than it made.
The Ciudad Real Airport then changed hands a few times, once for $10,895, which was a long way from the $87 million price tag that had been planned. Even though it’s no longer a passenger airport, it was used to send medical supplies abroad during the pandemic of 2020. Since Spain’s dry climate is good for storing planes, that’s what Ciudad Real has been used for mostly since 2021.
El Toro Marine Corps Air Station
Size: 4,700 acres
As you might expect from a Marine Corps air station, El Toro served its purpose three times during wartime before its runways were shut down for good in 1999. As time went on, most of the station’s buildings were torn down or built on top of, but a few still stand as reminders that it served its country well.
In fact, it looked like the airfield would only be left with a few ruins before architects announced plans for the buildings that were still standing. By working together, the ruins of El Toro will be turned into a “cultural terrace.” Agency Artifact’s founder, Chris Torres, told The Architect’s Newspaper in 2022 that it would be “a dynamic public space.”
Zeljava Air Base
Construction cost: $6 billion
Nicknames: Objekat 505, Object 505
How do you destroy an early warning defense base from the Cold War that was built inside a mountain and had its own airstrip? Of course, from the inside. Yes, the Zeljava Air Base was built to last. However, when the war was over, military forces detonated explosives as they left, putting an end to the airbase’s use for good.
People still go to the site to see what’s left, but it’s very dangerous. There are landmines in the area, so the police train their dogs to find them at the complex. And the inside of the base is unstable because it was damaged when it was first destroyed and has been left alone for years. Still, law enforcement has given up trying to stop people from exploring. Instead, they just ask people to be careful when they go exploring.
Rangsdorf Soviet Airport
Famous flyers: Beate Uhse, Bernd Rosemeyer, Elly Beinhorn, Heinz Ruehmann
During the war, some famous people went to the Rangsdorf Soviet Airport to learn how to fly. Rangsdorf was the place where the careers of actors, stunt pilots, and grand Prix racers got off the ground. That is, until the Russian army left in 1994, leaving it empty.
Note to be careful
Even though it was an important part of history, the airport was never sold. So, nature has started to take it back. Weeds and bushes are taking over the exposed buildings, so be careful if you decide to look around. No one knows how much damage the weather has done to the old buildings.
Currently, animals eat grass.
Planes that have crashed, including a rare Soviet crop duster, are shown.
Pearls Airport is most well-known for being Grenada’s first airport. When it was first made in the early 1940s, it wasn’t used every day, but the British army used it a lot more as World War II went on. It was given to the U.S. military in 1983, but they haven’t used it in a while. Certainly not by people.
Sheep and other animals graze there today, but they don’t know anything about Pearls’ history. Instead, only a few aviation fans and urban explorers visit the area to see the rare sights it has to offer. You see, the old strip holds old planes, including vehicles from the former Soviet Union, that you can look inside and outside of.
Airport at Tempelhof
Bridge of Spies, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Hunger Games were all filmed there.
Berlin is where
In the 1920s, Tempelhof Airport was built, and it is now a well-known landmark. In fact, the British architect Norman Foster called it “the mother of all airports,” according to a 2017 article in The Independent. Even though a lot of people protested to keep it open, it closed in 2008 anyway.
Parks and leisure
Even though it’s no longer being used as an airport, the Tempelhof has been put to use in other ways. It has been used as a place to film in Hollywood and as a shelter for refugees. It is now open to the public. Yes, it still draws a lot of people, but now it’s a huge park where people walk their dogs, ride bikes, and do other outdoor activities.
Size: 5,930 acres
Sperenberg was a large military town that once housed 5,000 people. It was much more than just an airfield. It was built for the Soviet Union, but in 1994 it was given to Germany, which didn’t do anything with it. Later, plans to build a second airport on the land were turned down.
Messed up tours
Even though Sperenberg looks like it’s been left behind, police still go through the town and the airfield. That doesn’t mean you can’t go, but going alone is too dangerous because the buildings aren’t stable and there are unattended explosives. Abandoned Spaces, a website for people who like to explore abandoned places, suggests that you make an appointment to tour the ruins instead.
Ronald Reagan and David Bowie are two famous flyers.
8,000 feet is how long the runway is.
In 1948, Joseph Stalin gave the order to build Tegel Airport so the country could get more supplies. And when it was built, the runway at Tegel was a big deal. It had a 2,500-meter-long landing strip, which made it the longest runway in Europe at the time.
Tomorrow will be technical.
But Tegel became less useful as technology improved and more people wanted to fly than it could handle. In 2019, it was used by 24 million people instead of the 2.5 million people it was meant for when it was built. Still, many people looked back on Tegel with fond memories until it closed in 2020. Plans are now in place to make it a center for tech-based business.
Sukhumi Babushara Airport
5,000 people per year use the service.
Closed: in the ’90s
In the 1960s, when the Soviet Union tried to take control of Abkhazia, it built the Sukhumi Babushara Airport. And because it was near the Black Sea, it used to be a busy hub that flew 5,000 people a year. But the political situation got worse, and fighting in the 1990s made the airport useless.
The airport was so badly damaged during the fighting that it could not be fixed. For the past 25 years, it has been untouched in ruins. Public access isn’t allowed, probably because the buildings aren’t stable, so don’t plan to go there. Even so, photographers were able to take pictures of an old, broken-down plane that was left to rust on the broken runway.
The airstrip at Buena Vista Disney
Nicknames: Buena Vista Disney Airport
Closed in: the 1980s
There are always rumors about Disney places, some of which have been about the Buena Vista Disney Airport. It is said that Disney’s Lake Buena Vista site opened an airport in 1971, but it has been closed ever since. That’s not completely true, but there is some truth to it.
Buena Vista didn’t have a full airport. Instead, it had a short takeoff and landing strip, or STOLport. It opened with a few Disney characters there, but it didn’t last very long. By the 1980s, it was gone. The strip was turned into a private road, and there aren’t many signs that it was ever there.