Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:he

Alabama, Birmingham area

© 2002, © 2014 by Paul Freeman. Revised 2/24/14.

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Please consider a financial contribution to support the continued growth & operation of this site.



Anniston AAF / Talladega Airport (revised 2/24/14) - Camp Hill Tallapoosa County (revised 6/5/13) - Centre Municipal Airport (added 11/29/12)

Coosa County Airport (revised 6/5/13) - Durham Airport / (Original) Bessemer Airport (revised 6/3/13)

Ft. McClellan AAF / Reilly AAF (revised 2/24/14) - Lee Brothers Airfield (revised 2/24/14) - McMinn Airport (added 8/25/13)

Messer Field / Central Park Field (revised 1/18/14) - Roberts Field (revised 1/18/14)

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Messer Field / Central Park Field, Birmingham, AL

33.48 North / 86.89 West (Southwest of Downtown Binmingham, AL)

An undated map depicting early airfields in Birgmingham, including Messer Field at the bottom-left.



Messer Field was constructed by pioneering aviator Glenn Messer in 1926-27.



According to Walter Wells, “Phoebe Fairgrave Omlie operated a flying circus with Glenn Messer out of this airfield; she was friends with Amelia Earhart.”



A 1929 photo of a Ford Tri-Motor visiting Messer Field.



A 1933 photo (restored by Bill Grasha) of a Waco 10 biplane at Messer Field.



An undated photo (restored by Bill Grasha) of a Messer Field hangar.



An undated photo (restored by Bill Grasha) of 3 biplanes in front of a hangar at Messer Field.



Glenn Messer continued to operate Messer Field until 1935, when it became Central Park Field.



According to Walter Wells, Central Park Field operated “up to about 1946.”



A 9/22/12 aerial view did not show any remaining trace of Messer Field.



According to Walter Wells, the site of Messer Airport “lies within Avenue O, 57th Street, Pineview Road, and Village Creek.”



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Roberts Field, Birmingham, AL

33.52 North / 86.87 West (West of Downtown Binmingham, AL)

A circa 1922-30 photo of 2 hangars at Roberts Field.



Roberts Field was built in 1922, and initially served as Birmingham's municipal airport.



The earliest depiction which has been located of Roberts Field was a circa 1922-30 photo of 2 wooden hangars next to a grass field.



A 1924 photo (restored by Bill Grasha) of Navy Zeppelin ZR-1 “Shenandoah” & its crew at Roberts Field.



The first commercial air service to Birmingham began in 1928 by St. Tammy & Gulf Coast Airways,

operating through Roberts Field on a route from Atlanta to New Orleans,

Delta Air Service began service to Birmingham in late 1929 with 6-seat Travel Air airplanes along a route stretching from Dallas to Birmingham.

When American Airways began their Atlanta to Fort Worth route,

Birmingham was not included in the route because their Ford Tri-Motor aircraft could not land at Roberts Field.

As a result of this development, Birmingham began construction of a new airport, Birmingham Municipal Airport,

which opened in 1931, but Roberts Field continued in operation at a reduced level for several more years.



The earliest aerial photo which has been located of Roberts Field was a 1937 aerial view.

It depicted Roberts Field as an irregularly-shaped grass field measuring 3,200' northeast/southwest,

with one checkerboard-roofed hangar on the southeast side.



The last photo which has been located of Roberts Field was a 2/22/47 aerial view.

The main hangar on the southeast side had evidently been removed at some point between 1937-47 (with only its foundation remaining),

but over a dozen individual T-hangars had been added along the southeast edge of the airfield,

near which were also parked a dozen light aircraft.



Walter recalled, “My dad said there was an old hangar still present in 1958 with airplane parts still hanging on the wall.”



Roberts Field was presumably closed at some point between 1947-61,

as it was no longer depicted on the 1961 USGS topo map.



The 1967 USGS topo map depicted an open area at the site of Roberts Field.



The 1971 USGS topo map showed several large industrial buildings had covered the site of Roberts Field.



A 9/22/12 aerial view shows that the overall property outline is the only recognizable remaining trace of Roberts Field.



The site of Roberts Field is located north of the intersection of 13th Street & Roberts Industrial Drive, appropriately enough.

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Lee Brothers Airfield, Anniston, AL

33.74 North / 85.83 West (Northeast of Binmingham, AL)

Lee Brothers Airfield, as depicted on the 1953 USGS topo map (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).



This airfield adjacent to an industrial facility was evidently established at some point between 1951-53,

as it was not yet depicted on a 3/31/51 USGS aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).

The earliest depiction which has been located of Lee Brothers Airfield was on the 1953 USGS topo map (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).



The only aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of Lee Brothers Airfield

was on the 1963 Birmingham Sectional Chart,

which depicted Lee Brothers as having a single paved northwest/southeast 2,200' runway.



The earliest photo which has been located of Lee Brothers Airfield was a 3/16/65 USGS aerial view (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).

It showed the field as having a single paved northwest/southeast runway, with a ramp & a hangar on the east side.

A road led to an adjacent industrial facility, which the airfield was presumably built to support.



A 1/7/72 USGS aerial view (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) still showed the Lee Brothers Airfield intact.



A 1975 USGS aerial view (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) showed that several small buildings had been built over the southeastern end of the runway,

presumably spelling the end of aviation use of Lee Brothers Airfield.



The 1983 USGS topo map (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) depicted Lee Brothers Airfield

as having a single paved northwest/southeast runway.



A 7/31/11 USDA aerial view (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) still showed the Lee Brothers Airfield hangar remained standing.



An 11/28/12 aerial view shows that the Lee Brothers hangar had been removed at some point between 2011-2012.



Lee Brothers Airfield is located northwest of the intersection of Golden Springs Road & Route 78.



Thanks to Dallam Oliver-Lee for pointing out this airport.

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McMinn Airport, Anniston, AL

33.74 North / 85.83 West (Northeast of Binmingham, AL)

McMinn Airfield, as depicted on the 1972 USGS topo map (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).



This small general aviation airport was evidently established at some point between 1965-72,

as it was not yet depicted on a 1965 AL DOT map (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).

The earliest depiction which has been located of McMinn Airfield was on the 1972 USGS topo map (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).

It depicted McMinn Airfield as having a single east/west runway, with an elongated building on the northwest side.



The earliest photo which has been located of McMinn Airport was a 1/8/72 USGS aerial view (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).

It showed the field as having a single asphalt east/west runway, with 10 light planes parked around an elongated hangar on the north side.



McMinn Airport was still labeled on the 1996 AL DOT map (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).



McMinn Airport was depicted in the same configuration on a 1/16/92 USGS aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).



A row of 5 individual hangars to the north of the original hangar was evidently added at some point between 1992-97,

as shown on a 3/7/97 USGS aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).



McMinn's Runway 8/26 was still marked as an active runway on a 6/14/06 aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee),

but only 1 single-engine aircraft was visible on the field.



A circa 2010 aerial view looking north showed at least 6 light aircraft at McMinn Airport.



Closed-runway “X” symbols had been painted on McMinn's runway by the time of a 10/10/10 aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee),

but 3 single-engine aircraft were still visible on the field.



The last photo which has been located showing aircraft at McMinn Airport was a 7/31/11 aerial view (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).

Although the runway had been marked closed for a few years, there was still 1 single-engine aircraft parked on the field.



An 11/28/12 aerial view shows that McMinn Airport remains intact – what a shame for this nice little general aviation facility to go unused.



McMinn Airport is located southwest of the intersection of McMinn Road & Airport Road – tricky, huh?



Thanks to Dallam Oliver-Lee for pointing out this airport.

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Centre Municipal Airport, Centre, AL

34.16 North / 85.64 West (Northeast of Binmingham, AL)

Centre Municipal Airport, as depicted on the 1967 USGS topo map.



According to its FAA Airport/Facility Directory data, Centre Municipal Airport was activated in August 1962.



The earliest depiction of Centre Municipal Airport which has been located was on the 1967 USGS topo map.

It depicted Centre Municipal as having a single paved east/west runway,

with 2 small buildings on the northwest side & a single small building on the southeast side.



The earliest photo which has been located of Centre Municipal Airport was a 2/18/97 USGS aerial view looking southeast.

It showed the field as having a single paved Runway 9/27, with some small buildings on the northwest & southeast sides.

A total of 10 light aircraft were visible parked on the northwest side of the field.



A total of 5 single-engine aircraft were visible at Centre Municipal Airport in a 6/15/06 aerial photo.



In September 2007, a larger & less-constrained Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport opened only 5 miles to the southeast.

It would eventually replace Centre Municipal Airport.



Centre Municipal Airport was evidently closed at some point between 2006-2011,

as an 8/11/11 aerial view looking southeast showed the runway marked with multiple closed-runway “X” symbols.

The airport appeared to remain otherwise completely intact,

and one single-engine aircraft remained parked on the northwest side of the field, apparently stranded at a closed airport.



As of 2012, the FAA Airport/Facility Directory described Centre Municipal Airport as having a single 3,401' asphalt Runway 9/27,

in fair condition”, with “no centerline markings”.

The field was said to have a total of 8 single-engine based aircraft,

and to conduct an average of 83 takeoffs or landings / week.



The 2012 Sectional Chart depicted Centre Municipal Airport as having a single paved east/west 3,400' runway.

It also depicted the nearby Centre-Piedmont Cherokee County Regional Airport which replaced Centre Municipal.



As of November 2012, although the FAA Airport/Facility Directory still listed Centre Municipal Airport as an active airport,

it described its sole Runway 9/27 as “closed indefinitely”.



Centre Municipal Airport is located south of the terminus of Woodland Drive.



Thanks to Gullopix for pointing out the closure of this airport.

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Ft. McClellan Army Airfield / Henry J. Reilly Army Airfield, Anniston, AL

33.75 North / 85.78 West (West of Atlanta, GA)

A 1930 AL Map (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) depicted an “Aviation Field” with 2 perpendicular runways on the north side of Ft. McClellan.



This former airfield was located on the grounds of Fort McClellan,

which conducted infantry & Military Police training.



The date of construction of Ft. McClellan's airfield has not been determined.



The earliest depiction which has been located of the Ft. McClellan Airfield was a 1930 AL Map (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee),

which depicted an “Aviation Field” with 2 perpendicular runways on the north side of Ft. McClellan.



The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airport Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo)

described the Ft. McClellan Army Airfield as a 44 acre T-shaped field,

measuring 2,600' east/west by 1,800' north/south.



An undated colorized postcard photo of the “Airport at Ft. McClellan” (courtesy of Mark Hess), showing 3 unidentified Army observation/liaison aircraft).



At some point between 1937-41, the airfield was renamed Henry J. Reilly AAF,

as that is how it was labeled on the June 1941 Birmingham Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



Reilly AAF was evidently abandoned (for reasons unknown) at some point between 1941-43,

as it was not depicted on the March 1943 14M Regional Aeronautical Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).



A 1944 map (courtesy of Rex Ricks) depicted Reilly Field as having 2 perpendicular runways.



Reilly AAF was not depicted on the 1944 or 1945 Birmingham Sectional Charts (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

nor in the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).



The 1947 USGS topo map (courtesy of the University of Alabama Map Library)

depicted “Reilly Airfield” as having two runways & a taxiway leading to a few small buildings on the north side of the field,

but it was also labeled “Abandoned”.



Reilly (Army) was described on the Aerodromes table of the August 1954 Birmingham Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

as being "Inactive", with "no facilities."

It was depicted as having a 2,300' hard surface runway.

 

Reilly's runway was apparently somewhat lengthened at some point between 1954-61,

as the 1961 Great Smoky Mountains World Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted the field as having a 3,000' hard-surface runway.

 

Two paved runways were depicted for "Reilly AAF"

on the January 1962 Birmingham Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy),

but the remarks in the Aerodromes table said "North/South runway closed."

 

A 1961 Soil Conservation Service Photo,

courtesy of Thomas Kallsen of the University of Alabama Map Library.



The 1963 Birmingham Sectional Chart depicted Reilly AAF as having 2 paved runways, with the longest being 3,000'.



Jeff Morgan recalled, “I lived at Fort McClellan from 1969-72.

As a child, I remember my father, an Army officer, taking me to the airfield many times

and seeing several UH-1 Hueys on a flight line.



John Sabol recalled, “I was stationed at Ft. McClellan between the years 1970-73.

I was an Army Aviator & the operations officer of Reilly Army Airfield.

We had an aviation detachment of about 20 pilots, plus a maintenance group.

The aircraft we had were 4 or 5 UH-1 Hueys, and a T-41, U-6, and U-8 fixed-wing aircraft.

At the time, Ft. McClellan was the home of the Women’s Army Corps & the Army Chemical Corps.

We flew in support of both of the above. Great job at the time.

Additionally, Reilly frequently hosted training flights of the CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

They came from Ft. Benning to use our facilities.”



Reilly AAF was still listed as an active airfield in the 1971 Flight Guide (according to Chris Kennedy).



The 1972 USGS topo map depicted the 2 runways of “Reilly Airfield”.

 

The status of the airfield had been downgraded to that of a heliport by 1980,

as "Reilly AHP" was depicted as "Heliport Only" on the April 1980 Atlanta Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



Reilly was apparently closed (again) at some point between 1980-86,

as it was not listed among active airfields in the 1986 Flight Guide (according to Chris Kennedy).



According to a Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Statement (courtesy of Rex Ricks),

The airfield, which was closed prior to 1988 by the Federal Aviation Administration because of inadequate glide ratio,

is currently used for defensive driving training by the Military Police School.”



Jeff Morgan recalled, “It was somewhat surprising to me, when in 1990-91, as a military police lieutenant,

I stumbled on to the airfield by accident & learned it had been inactive for some time & was now a vehicle driving range.”



Fort McClellan was closed during the 1990s,

and the property containing the airfield became a National Guard installation.



Reilly AAF was depicted on late 1990s aeronautical charts as an abandoned airfield.



 

As seen in the 1998 USGS aerial photo,

the airfield consists of two paved runways (the largest is 3,700’ long) and a taxiway.

According to retired Infantry Officer Gary Waters,

a serpentine driving course (used for Military Police driver training) has been overlaid on the primary runway.



A circa 1990s view looking east at Reilly Field by Gary Waters.

The mountain due east of the airfield is Choccolocco Mountain.



A circa 2006 aerial view looking north at Reilly Field, showing several buildings & foundations along the southeast side of the north/south runway.



A 11/28/12 aerial view (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) showed Reilly Field to remain intact though deteriorated.



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33.57 North / 86.06 West (East of Birmingham, AL)

Anniston AAF, as depicted on the November 1944 Birmingham Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



How many auto racing fans know that the Talladega Superspeedway

was built on the remains of an abandoned WW2-era Army Airfield?



Anniston was opened on October 19, 1942 as a sub-field of Courtland AAF, with a 5,300' hard-surfaced runway.



However, Anniston Army Airfield was not yet depicted at all

on the March 1943 14M Regional Aeronautical Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).



Anniston was used as part of the Basic Flying School headquartered at Courtland

which utilized Vultee BT-13s for the Air Cadets

as well as a specialized 4-engine flying school that flew B-24s,

and a school for transition from B-24s to B-29s school opened up in early 1945.

The airfield was also used by the Army Airways Communication System with the 108th AACS Squadron being assigned to the airfield.



The March 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)

described Anniston AAF as having a 5,300' hard-surfaced runway.



The earliest depiction of Anniston AAF which has been located

was on the November 1944 Birmingham Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



The earliest photo of Anniston AAF which has been located

was a circa 1943-45 aerial view looking northeast from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).

It depicted “Maxwell Field Auxiliary #3 (Anniston AAF)” as having 3 concrete runways with a concrete ramp on the east side.



Anniston AAF was still depicted as an active military airfield

on the 1945 Birmingham Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



Anniston AAF was closed on August 16, 1945 & was placed on standby status.



The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) descrbied “Maxwell Field Auxiliary #3 (Anniston AAF)”

as a 1,863 acre irregularly-shaped property having 3 concrete 5,300' runways,

and a single 160' x 120' steel hangar.

The field was said to be owned by the U.S. Government, and operated by the Army Air Forces, but to be “Inactive”.



At some point between 1945-47, Anniston was apparently closed by the military.

as it was labeled "Anniston Air Force Base (Inactive)" on a 1947 USGS topo map

(courtesy of Thomas Kallsen of the University of Alabama Map Library).



A February 1949 USGS aerial photo (courtesy of John Cross) depicted Anniston AFB as having three 5,300' concrete runways, taxiways,

and a ramp & building complex on the northeast side of the field.



Anniston was reopened by the Air Force Air Training Command on July 1, 1949 as Anniston AFB

and conducted contract flying training until August 1, 1950

when it was transferred to Air Materiel Command as a support airfield to support the Anniston Army Depot.



Anniston AFB was closed for the final time on June 30, 1952.



The former Anniston AFB was eventually reused as the Talladega Airport.

It was described on the Aerodromes table of the August 1954 Birmingham Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

as a jointly operated (civil & Air Force) airfield.



The 1959 Jeppesen Airway Manual (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Talladega Airport as having three 5,300' paved runways.

Taxiways led to a ramp on the north side of the field.

Only a single building was depicted.



The 1961 Great Smoky Mountains World Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Talladega Airport as having a 5,300' paved runway.



The 1962 AOPA Airport Directory described Talladega Municipal Airport as having three 5,300' concrete runways,

and listed the operator as Vinson Flying Service.



The 1963 Birmingham Sectional Chart depicted Talladega Airport as having 3 paved runways, with the longest being 5,300'.



The former Anniston AAF was selected as the site for a new auto racing track by NASCAR founder Bill France & Bill Ward,

and the track was opened in 1969.

It "was built to be the biggest, fastest, and most competitive speedway in the world."

The date of closure of the Talladega Municipal Airport has not been determined.



At an unknown date,

a new airport, the Talladega Municipal Airport, was built to the east of the Speedway & former military airfield.

A new 6,000' paved runway was constructed for the new airport -

it did not reuse any runways from the former military airfield.



The majority of the length of the three runways of the former military airfield

were still clearly recognizable in the 1997 aerial photo.

Most of the former military building area also still existed, northeast of the former airfield.



A 2006 aerial view by Robert Morris looking northeast at the Talladega Superspeedway,

with the former military airfield just behind it, and the current Talladega Regional Airport at the top.

Robert observed, “The old runways are used as roadways & RV/camper parking at the Talladega Superspeedway.”



A 5/31/09 aerial view looking north at the remains of 2 former runways within the Talladega Superspeedway.



The site of Talladega AAF is located

southeast of the intersection of Superspeedway Boulevard & Jackson Trace Road.



Thanks to Peter Kodis for pointing out this former airfield.

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Coosa County Airport (69A), Goodwater, AL

33.09 North / 86.06 West (North of Montgomery, AL)

Coosa County Airport, as depicted on a 2/19/66 USGS aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).



Coosa County Airport was evidently built at some point between 1945-66,

as it was not yet listed among active airfields in the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).

The earliest depiction which has been located of Coosa County Airport was a 2/19/66 USGS aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee),

in which it appeared to still be an unpaved runway.



A 3/23/67 USGS aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) still showed Coosa County to have an unpaved runway.



Nothing at the site of the Coosa County Airport was depicted on the 1969 USGS topo map

(even though the above 1966 aerial photo showed that the airfield already existed by that point).



According to Jim Hamil (a native & son of a City Councilman of Goodwater),

"The runway was built in the 1960s with Federal grant monies.

Goodwater is sandwiched in between what was at that time 2 larger & growing cities (Sylacauga & Alexander City)

which both had limited small runways / airports that were unable to expand because of land issues.

Goodwater's growth had leveled off & started to show signs of remission.

The county applied for the grant monies hoping that a longer airstrip would move growth towards Goodwater,

especially since it would be the only airstrip in the rural area that would be able to handle jets."



An 11/17/75 USGS aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) appeared to show that the runway had been paved at some point between 1967-75.



According to Jim Hamil, "The strip had no bearings on Goodwater's growth & couldn't save the town.

During the 1970s, over half of the retail stores closed.

During the 1980s, Wal-Marts in Sylacauga & Alexander City killed all but 3 retail stores.

Even though the strip was never used,

the city was held responsible for maintaining the runway lights, which was rather expensive.

Even when the strip was open & operational, the gate portion of the fence around it was padlocked

(I remember climbing over it many times as a kid).

Also, I-65 (which connects Birmingham to Montgomery) didn't exist when the strip was built."



Coosa County Airport was depicted on the October 1975 Atlanta Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

as having a single 4,600' paved runway.



The airfield was depicted (labeled simply "Landing Strip") on the 1981 USGS topo map.



Coosa County Airport was listed among active airfields in the 1982 AOPA Airport Directory (courtesy of Ed Drury),

which described the field as having a single 4,600' asphalt Runway 18/36.



According to Jim Hamil, "The Airport was actually closed to normal traffic circa 1988,

but remained available for daytime emergency landings of planes & small jets

because of its fairly long runway.

Any attempts to land were met with a deputy or Goodwater Policeman.

The reasons for closing the runway were primarily monetary & lack of use:

Resurfacing Costs - Costs & upkeep of the runway Lights

(which apparently were continually being destroyed by the city's mowers

and by hunters who didn't like them burning).

Security - The police would patrol occasionally,

but because of its remote & secluded location it needed a fulltime watchman.

Lack of use - No planes were kept on the premises.

Madix & other local plane owners used the Alexander City Airport (15 minutes driving time)

which had hangers, was a manned airport, and was actually easier to access by car.

The Goodwater / Coosa County Airport is literally in a remote, very rural area with a difficult drive.

Someone would occasionally land on the strip when it was open, but rarely."



In the 1997 USGS aerial photo, the airfield still consisted of a single 4,600' runway,

along with a small parking apron (possibly with a trailer) on the east side of the runway.



It was still labeled "County Airport" on the 1997 USGS topo map.



Coosa County Airport was completely closed at some point between 1997-2002,

as it was depicted as an abandoned airfield on 2002 aeronautical charts.



Jim Hamil recalled, "I remember one of my friends trying to land on it

after they painted the big "X" [closed runway symbol] on the runway.

He was probably 19 or so at the time.

He was met by a Deputy who threatened to jail him & impound his plane!

After they closed it, the city began to use the area North of the runway

for the City Dump allowing the garbage & trash trucks to use the strip as a road

along with private & commercial vehicles who would bring trash to be dumped."



According to George Jones, this abandoned airport is used by Harley Davidson to test motorcycles.



A 9/23/12 aerial view looking north showed Coosa County Airport's pavement to be seriously deteriorated.



The site of Coosa County Airport is located west of Route 11, two miles north-northwest of Goodwater.

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Durham Airport / (Original) Bessemer Airport, Bessemer, AL

33.37 North / 86.98 West (Southwest of Birmingham, AL)

Durham Airport, as depicted on a 3/26/47 USGS aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).



This airport was apparently built at some point between 1945-47 (like hundreds of other American general aviation airports in the post-WW2 boom),

as it was not yet depicted on the 1945 Birmingham Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).

The earliest depiction which has been located of Durham Airport was on a 3/26/47 USGS aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).

It depicted Durham as having a single unpaved northeast/southwest runway, with 2 buildings on the northwest side.



The earliest aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of Durham Airport

was on the August 1954 Birmingham USAF Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

It depicted Durham Airport as having a 2,300' unpaved runway.



A 1956 Soil Conservation Service aerial photo (courtesy of Thomas Kallsen of the University of Alabama Map Library)

depicted Durham Airport as having a single northeast/southwest runway, with 3 small buildings (hangars?) along the northwest side.

A total of 5 light aircraft were visible on the field.



At some point between 1954-59, the field was apparently renamed "Bessemer Airport"

as that is how it was labeled on the 1959 USGS topo map (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

 

The August 1962 Birmingham Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted the original Bessemer Airport as having a 3,000' unpaved runway.



Robert Boutwell recalled, “The 'old' Bessemer Airport... the airfield was paved around 1962.

At that time the airport was purchased by L. R. Clark who also owned Clark Bros Truck Lines in Birmingham.

The paving was done by 'Red' Stewart of Stewart Construction, also located in Birmingham.

The paving was done at Clark’s expense as a measure to bring in more traffic.

Both L.R. & Red kept their personal planes there.

L.R.’s wife was the manager & ran the operation along with a resident instructor pilot, Ronnie Little.”



Robert continued, “The airport had 2 completely enclosed hangars.

One was directly next to the operations building directly north of the gas island

and the other was in the northeast corner of the airfield.

The latter belonged to a fellow named 'Shorty' who was an A&P&I.

Folks from all over the south brought their airplanes to Shorty for annuals & repair.

In the 1960s Shorty employed 2-3 A&P mechanics there.

The remainder of the hangars were wooden T-hangars.

Basically pole construction with tin roofs, no sides. They did keep the sun off the fabric aircraft.

I recall that they stayed occupied most of the time along with the 15 or so open tie-down spots.”



The 1963 Birmingham Sectional Chart continued to depict Bessemer Airport as having a 3,000' unpaved runway.



Robert Boutwell recalled, “I did my first solo flight there in August of 1963 & subsequently went to work for Mrs. Clark as a line boy.

During my last year & a half of high school, I worked there every afternoon & all day on Saturday & Sunday.

She paid me $25 & 2 hours of flight time in a Piper Colt every week.

Between that & flying with all the guys who used to hang out there on weekends, I amassed enough time to get my Commercial License in 1965.

I worked there until 1966.”



A 1967 Soil Conservation Service aerial photo of the original Bessemer Airport

(courtesy of Thomas Kallsen of the University of Alabama Map Library) depicted a paved runway

along with a few more hangars had been added to the field compared to the 1956 aerial photo.

A total of about a dozen light aircraft were visible on the field.



The last photo which has been located showing Bessemer Airport still open was a 2/21/70 USGS aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).

It depicted over 20 aircraft on the field.



The 1971 Flight Guide (courtesy of Chris Kennedy) depicted Bessemer Airport as having a single 3,000' paved Runway 3/21.

A taxiway led to a total of 6 buildings (hangars?) along the northwest side of the runway.



The original Bessemer Airport was apparently closed at some point between 1971-74,

as a 2/12/74 aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) showed all of the airfield buildings except one had been removed,

and no aircraft were visible on the field.

It had evidently been replaced by a new airport to the southeast.



A 1975 aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) still showed the airport property remaining without redevelopment.



By the time of the August 1976 Word Aeronautical Chart (according to Chris Kennedy),

the original Bessemer Airport was depicted as abandoned.



The Bessemer Airport was no longer depicted at all on the 1981 USGS topo map.



A 1981 USGS aerial photo showed several commercial buildings had been constructed over the site of the original Bessemer Airport.



A 9/12/12 aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) showed commercial buildings covering the site of the original Bessemer Airport.

Curiously, most of the runway lives on, reused as a street named Industrial Park Circle, which is anything but a circle.



The site of the original Bessemer Airport is located northeast of the intersection of Grant Street & Airport Lane Southwest.

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Camp Hill Tallapoosa County Airport (62A), Camp Hill, AL

32.78 North / 85.66 West (Southwest of Atlanta, GA)

Camp Hill Airport, as depicted on a 4/4/51 USGS aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).



Camp Hill Airport was evidently built at some point between 1945-51,

as it was not yet listed among active airfields in the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).

The earliest depiction which has been located of Camp Hill Airport was a 4/4/51 USGS aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee),

in which the field consisted of apparently not much more than a clearing, oriented north-northwest/south-southeast.



However, Camp Hill Airport was not listed among active airfields in the 1962 AOPA Airport Directory



A 10/10/67 USGS aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) showed a larger clearing having been made for the Camp Hill runway

along a somewhat different orientation (due north/south) compared to as depicted in the earlier photo,



Camp Hill Airport was still not listed among active airfields in the 1971 Flight Guide (according to Chris Kennedy).



The earliest labeled depiction of Camp Hill Airport which has been located was on the 1971 USGS topo map.

It depicted Camp Hill East Tallapoosa County Airport as having a single north/south runway, with a ramp on the east side.



The February 1976 Atlanta Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy

depicted Camp Hill Tallapoosa County Airport as having a single 2,800' paved runway.

 

Camp Hill Tallapoosa County Airport was described in the 1982 AOPA Airport Directory (courtesy of Ed Drury)

as having a single 2,780' asphalt Runway 18/36,

along with the comment "Use at own risk", which is kind of unusual for a "County Airport".



Camp Hill Airport was still listed (although in the "Low Use" section) of the 1986 Flight Guide (according to Chris Kennedy).



The 1986 USGS topo map depicted the Camp Hill East Tallaposa Airport as having a single north/south paved runway.



Ted Dasher recalled, “Camp Hill... was definitely open as of 1989

as the Auburn University Skydiving Club used it occasionally during that year.”



Brian Bostick reported, “Camp Hill was definitely open as late as 1991.

I landed there on May 30, 1991, in a Cessna 172 & saw another aircraft parked there.

I was told at the time I landed that the airport was scheduled to be closed.

It was a short runway completely surrounded by a wall of tall trees on all sides.

Even in a Cessna 172, all those trees were enough to make any pilot sweat during landing or takeoff.”



Coosa County Airport was apparently closed at some point between 1991-98,

as it was not longer depicted at all (even as an abandoned airfield) on 1998 World Aeronautical Charts.



According to Glen Boyd (manager of LaGrange-Callaway Airport),

"It was closed due to a lack of funds to keep it properly paved & safe.

I understand that it is now used for drag racing & the hangar is a city equipment barn."



In the 1998 USGS aerial photo, the runway still existed, but with a closed runway "X" symbol on the north end,

and evidence of being reused for drag racing on the south end.

Ted Dasher observed, “One thing the photo does not capture is the way in which this airport was literally cut out of a pine forest,

almost like a runway with walls on each side (and each end).”



A 6/14/06 aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) showed that a new divided highway (Route 280)

was built at some point between 1998-2006 right through the northern portion of the runway.



A 11/9/12 aerial view looking southeast showed the remains of the Camp Hill runway & the hangar.



The Camp Hill Airport is located on the west side of Route 89 at Airport Road,

one mile south of Camp Hill, AL.

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