Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:
© 2002, © 2013 by Paul Freeman. Revised 4/2/13.
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Crissey Airport (revised 8/16/12) - Oregon City Airpark (revised 8/16/12) - Springfield Airport (revised 6/25/09)
Sutherlin Airport (revised 8/11/09) - Willamette Airpark / T-Bird Airport (revised 4/2/13)
Crissey Airport, Brookings, OR
42 North / 124.21 West (Southwest of Portland, OR)
An official 1952 sketch of the “Crissey State Line Airstrip” (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling).
Photo of the airport has not been located.
Jonathan Westerling reported, “The Crissey State Line Airstrip was, for over a decade the southernmost airport in Oregon,
and unique for being the only airport on the west coast to have its access road in another state!
The beginnings of the Crissey State Line airstrip are clouded by local folklore.
Brookings, OR was one of the few locations in the continental U.S. to be bombed by the Japanese during World War II.
According to some, it is due to these attacks that Crissey Airfield was established.
The airfield was supposedly used as a base for submarine-seeking airplanes towards the end of World War II.”
The website www.traveloregon.com states, “The area served as a coastal air strip & refueling station
for reconnaissance flights patrolling the northern CA & southern OR beaches searching for Japanese submarines.”
Unfortunately, the airfield wasn’t depicted in any WWII airport directories.
The first reference to the Crissey State Line airstrip which has been located
was an article in the 10/4/51 Currey County Reporter (courtesy of the OR Department of Aviation, via Jonathan Westerling).
The article details the construction of the airstrip: ”A hard-surfaced airstrip has been put into service about 4 miles south of here & 10 miles from the one at Crescent City [CA].
Known as the Crissey State Line Airport, the north/south runway is 60' by 2,000'.
Parker Schram, road contractors, surfaced & rolled the strip with clay & shale, the latter being donated by L.W. Johnson.
The directors of the Brookings Chamber of Commerce are the sponsors & the CAA has been petitioned for certification.
The field is on a high back beach between Highway 101 & the sea.”
Jonathan Westerling reported, “However, it turns out there was debate within the Chamber of Commerce
as to their ability to fund & maintain operation of the airport.
An article in the December 1951 Brookings Harbor-Pilot newspaper (courtesy of the Oregon Department of Aviation) detailed a 12/5/51 meeting
where the Chamber board finally created a committee to re-open their plans to run the airfield.
However, in the end, they decided not to follow through – leaving State-Line airport a private airfield.”
Jonathan continued, “The trepidation on the part of the Chamber led the landowner, Mr. W.L Crissey,
to inquire whether the State wished to take over operation of his new airstrip.”
According to Sandi Larsen at the OR State Department of Aviation, “I’ve found more correspondence between W.L. Crissey & the State Board of Aeronautics.
In 1952 a lease agreement was entered into.”
This lease allowed the State to run the airstrip as a public airport for a 10 year period.
The earliest depiction of Crissey Airport which has been located was an official 1952 sketch (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling).
It depicted the “Crissey State Line Airstrip” as having a single 2,000' northwest/southeast runway.
The 1956 USGS topo chart depicted Crissey Airport as having a single northwest/southeast runway.
Jonathan Westerling reported, “According to Sandi Larsen of the OR State Department of Aviation, W.L. Crissey sold his land in 1961.”
The only aeronautical chart depiction of Crissey Airport which has been located was on the 1962 Klamath Falls Sectional Chart (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling).
It depicted the “Crissey State Line Airstrip” as having a, 1,800' unpaved runway.
Jonathan Westerling reported, “According to Sandi Larsen of the OR State Department of Aviation,
the airport lease was not renewed by the new owner when it was up in 1962.
Consequently, in 1963 the State & County began construction of a new Brookings airport a few miles to the north.”
According to an OR State Department of Aviation publication titled “Oregon State Airport Histories”, “[Today’s] airport was constructed in 1964.
This airport replaced Crissey State Line Air Strip, a facility leased by Aeronautics to serve the Brookings area.”
The 1964 OR Airport Directory Map (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling) continued to depict the airport, labeled as “Brookings”.
A 1964 sketch of Crissey Airport (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling), showing the proposed rerouting of Route 101 closer to the airport.
Jonathan reported, “Curiously, when the U.S. Department of Commerce sought to reorient Route 101 closer to the Crissey State Line Airstrip in 1964,
they were required to obtain approval from both the FAA & the State (according to a letter to the OR Department of Aeronautics).
It may be presumed that the airport was still in operation at that time, even though its lease had expired 2 years prior.”
According to Jonathan Westerling, “No record of airport operations at Crissey State-Line airstrip exist after 1964.
The Crissey State-Line airport was not listed in the 1967 AOPA Airports USA guide, even as a private airfield.”
A 1972 aerial view looking east at the south end of the Crissey Airport site (Copyright 2002-2009 Kenneth & Gabrielle Adelman, California Coastal Records Project)
showed the foundations of several hangars at the site, however, no aviation use was evident.
The 1989 USGS topo map still depicted Crissey Airport, with a single runway, even though it had not been in operation for many years.
According to the OR State website, “OPRD [Oregon Parks & Recreation Department] acquired Crissey Field in a 1993 land exchange with a private timber firm.”
Jonathan Westerling reported, “In 1999, Senate Bill 1102 was passed & funded the establishment of a new state park welcome center on the site.
The construction of the Welcome center removed any remaining traces of the airport.”
A 2009 photo by Jonathan Westerling looking north along the location of the runway at Crissey Airfield.
Jonathan reported, “The pavement is new, though the roadway is aligned with the runway orientation.
The area was recently graded to install an access road to the State Park Welcome Center recently constructed on the property.”
As of 2011, road maps label the airport site as Crissey Field State Park.
Sutherlin Airport (3S3), Sutherlin, OR
43.38 North / 123.33 West (Southwest of Portland, OR)
Sutherlin Airport, as depicted on the March 1949 Klamath Falls Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
This general aviation airport was apparently built at some point between 1945-46,
as it was not listed among active airfields in the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).
The earliest reference to Sutherlin Valley Airport which has been located
comes from a 1998 Douglas County Transportation Systems report (according to Jonathan Westerling),
which said that the airport started operations in 1946.
The earliest depiction of Sutherlin Valley Airport which has been located
was on the March 1949 Klamath Falls Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
It depicted Sutherlin Valley Airport as having a 2,500' unpaved runway.
The 1949 OR Airport Directory (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling)
depicted the “Sutherlin Valley Airways Airport” as having 2 turf runways:
2,500' north/south & 2,200' northwest/southeast (with gravel strip down the middle),
and 2 small hangars were depicted on the northwest side.
The manager was listed as A.L. Koleno.
Sutherlin's second runway was evidently abandoned at some point between 1949-51,
as the 1951 Airman's Guide (according to Jonathan Westerling) only listed a single runway.
The earliest photo which has been located of Sutherlin Airport
was an undated aerial view looking north from the 1964 OR Airport Directory (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling).
It described Sutherlin as having a 2,200' north/south turf runway, and the photo also depicted a 2nd runway.
The operator was listed as the City of Sutherlin, and the manager was listed as John Knapp.
The 1967 AOPA Airport Directory (according to Jonathan Westerling) described Sutherlin as having a single turf Runway 13/31.
The 1977 AOPA Airport Directory (according to Jonathan Westerling) revised Sutherlin's runway configuration to a gravel Runway 15/33.
According to Jonathan Westerling, “The small field was for over 40 years, home to many private aviation & agricultural planes.
There was an FBO on field beginning in 1978 with Sutherlin Air Service.
The runway was paved in the early 1980s.
The 1987 USGS topo map showed that Sutherlin had a single northwest/southeast runway,
with a ramp & several small buildings on the northwest side.
An undated aerial view from the 1988 OR Airport Directory (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling)
depicted Sutherlin Airport as having a single 2,600' paved Runway 14/32.
A paved ramp was at the northwest corner, with a few small buildings,
and two single-engine aircraft were visible.
According to Jonathan Westerling, Sutherlin's FBO “changed to Western Oregon Aviation which operated there until the airports closure in 1991.”
According to a 1998 Douglas County Transportation Systems report (according to Jonathan Westerling), Sutherlin Airport “was closed in 1991.
Closure was based on the realization that the airport could not be expanded for commercial aviation use.
It served primarily as a crop dusting base & had a variable level of based aircraft.
The city realized it could gain more economic benefit by using the land for [commercial & industrial buildings].
The City has designated the former airport park area as an industrial park.
There are 3 tenants in the industrial park, and further development is anticipated.
There are no plans to re-open the Sutherlin airport in the future.”
Unfortunately this is a very typical story – closing a municipal airport to realize short-term benefits by selling off the land to developers.
Regardless of whether the airport represents a long-term transportation & business asset the community.
With that kind of mentality, why not sell off parks to be “redeveloped”?
The Sutherlin Airport was evidently closed (for reasons unknown) at some point between 1988-94,
as a May 7, 1994 USGS aerial view looking south showed closed runway “X” symbols painted on the runway,
and a large building having been built very close to the northwest end of the runway.
A March 9, 2005 aerial view showed that the Sutherlin runway & hangars remained intact,
but several other large buildings had been built at some point between 1994-2005 on either side of the north end of the runway.
A May 2009 photo by Jonathan Westerling looking south along the former Sutherlin runway.
Jonathan reported in May 2009, “If you are driving up I-5, the old airport is less than 5 minutes off the highway,
and easily accessible by public roads.
I found there is still ample evidence of the airfield.”
Much of the runway still remains, and is easily viewable off of Airway Avenue.
In fact, you can legally drive right onto the original runway which intersects with Page Avenue.
Walking down a runway is a neat experience for youngsters interested in aviation.”
A May 2009 photo by Jonathan Westerling of the larger of the two remaining hangars at Sutherlin,
along with a Cessna fuselage, and a fine example of 1970s American station wagon design.
A May 2009 photo by Jonathan Westerling of two fuselages (Beech?) next to a former Sutherlin maintenance hangar.
The site of Sutherlin Airport is located south of the intersection of Landing Street & Airway Avenue, appropriately enough.
Oregon City Airpark (0S2), Oregon City, OR
45.28 North / 122.59 West (South of Portland, OR)
Oregon City Airpark, as depicted on the October 1964 USAF Operational Navigation Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
This general aviation airport was apparently built at some point between 1963-64,
as it was not depicted on the 1961 USGS topo map,
nor listed in the 1963 AOPA Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy).
The earliest reference to the airfield which has been located
was on the October 1964 USAF Operational Navigation Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
The July 1969 Portland Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)
depicted Oregon City as having a single 2,500' paved east/west runway.
The 1970 USGS topo map depicted Oregon City Airpark as a single unpaved east/west runway with a few small buildings on the southeast side.
The 1976 AOPA Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy) described the Oregon City Airpark
as being operated by the Keystone Aircraft Company.
The 1993 Flight Guide (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)
depicted Oregon City Airpark as having a single 2,485' paved Runway 7/25 (which was described as "Ruf").
A parallel taxiway was located on the south side,
and several hangars & small buildings were located south of the taxiway.
Ultralights were said to operate from the field.
The Oregon City Airpark was evidently closed (for reasons unknown) at some point between 1993-98,
as it was no longer depicted at all on the 1998 World Aeronautical Chart.
As seen in the 2001 USGS aerial photo, the former paved runway was still visible,
but it had been reused as a street (South MacDonalds Place) for several houses which have been built along it.
A 2004 aerial view looking southwest at Oregon City Airpark.
The site of Oregon City Airpark is located on the north side of South Carus Road,
one mile west of Route 213.
Willamette Airpark / T-Bird Airport, Eugene, OR
44.05 North / 123.18 West (South of Portland, OR)
Willamette Airpark, as depicted in the 1947 OR Airport Directory (courtesy of David Brooks).
Photo of the airport while open has not been located.
This general aviation airport was evidently established at some point between 1945-47,
as it was not yet depicted on the April 1945 Portland Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).
The earliest reference to the field which has been located
was in the 1947 OR Airport Directory (courtesy of David Brooks).
It described Willamette as being managed by a Robert Bevans,
who operated Bevan’s Flying Service from the field.
The runway configuration consisted of a 2,500' northwest/southeast gravel strip & a 1,900' north/south sod strip.
The 1951 Klamath Falls Sectional Chart (courtesy of David Brooks)
depicted Willamette Airpark as having a 2,500' unpaved runway.
The 1953 Klamath Falls Sectional Chart (courtesy of David Brooks)
depicted Willamette Airpark in an unchanged fashion.
Willamette Airpark gained a paved runway at some point between 1953-59,
as the 1959 Klamath Falls Sectional Chart (courtesy of David Brooks)
depicted the field as having a 2,500' hard surface runway.
The runway length at Willamette had been reduced by 400' within the next year,
as the 1960 Jeppesen Airway Manual (according to Chris Kennedy)
described the field as having a single 2,100' hard surface runway.
Jay Flitton recalled, “Between 1962-1964 Willamette Airpark went by the name 'T-Bird' Airport.
My dad, while going to graduate school at the University of OR flew out of 'T-Bird' a lot.
My mom started her private pilot lessons there.
That is where I had my first airplane ride! A Cherokee 140.
It had a beautiful log terminal building with a 'Control Room' that had a giant picture window overlooking the airport, there was no tower.
The whole terminal looked more like a ski lodge or maybe something that should be in Yellowstone National Park.
It was a beautiful little airport with a lot of activity. Too bad it is gone.”
A 1963 logo of T-Bird Airpark (courtesy of Jim Allen).
According to Jim, “It appears that each one may have been numbered. I can't imagine why.”
An August 1964 photo by Jim Allen of the T-Bird Airpark maintenance hangar, with a variety of general aviation aircraft.
An August 1964 photo by Jim Allen of the T-Bird Airpark administration & operations building.
An undated aerial view looking north at T-Bird Airpark from the 1964 OR Airport Directory (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling).
It described T-Bird as having a 2,000' paved Runway 12/30.
The operator was listed as T-Birds Inc., and the manager listed as Robert Litten,
and the T-Bird Flying Club was also listed.
John Tucker recalled, “I learned to fly at T-Bird in the 1960s.
It was a wonderful place for a young boy to learn to fly.
My dad started to fly & I took lessons too.
I was offered a job (which I took) mowing the grass around the airport.
Then I progressed to fuel & line boy.
I also helped the mechanic in the shop with small jobs.
Of course I traded every hour against flying time.
They had a couple of Champs, one N81967, two Piper Colts, a Cherokee 140 & 180, the latter being N7432W.
Other planes were Champion 7402B, a Shinn, and a few others.
They also had a Link Trainer in which we airport kids had our first exposure to instrument flight.
We would take turns flying, then we would become controllers.
Great fun with all of the encouragement that could be given.
Although this Link Trainer was in the mechanic's hangar
and sometimes he did not enjoy the enjoyment that we were having as much as we were.
Some of the instructors were Harry Powell & Gary McCaulley.
Robert Litton was the Airport Manager & I think the business owner was Robert Evans.
I flew roughly 80 hours between 1965-68, most of which were in the basic trainers.”
John Tucker recalled, “I think in 1967 they started running drag races there. I worked these races.
Looking back I believe they did not charge enough for their [aviation] services & that's why they quit business.
The drag races were a way to bring in more revenue.
I really do not think they liked having all of that noise & crowds.
I cannot think any business could have made it with those extremely low aircraft charges.
They did have leased a Martin 202 that they hoped would bring some activity to their flying club.
Reno & Las Vegas trips for the flying club people were scheduled & I think they did fly some of these.
I had the great experience of flying the copilot seat on a couple of short hops.”
Willamette / T-Bird Airport was evidently closed by 1967,
as it was no longer listed among active airports in the 1967 Flight Guide(according to Chris Kennedy).
By 1975 the former northwest/southeast runway of the abandoned airport had been reused as a drag strip,
as the 1975 USGS topo map depicted the characteristic layout of a single runway with a parallel taxiway,
labeled as the "Balboa Park Drag Strip".
In the 9/3/75 USGS aerial photo, the remains of both runways were still quite recognizable.
In the 1994 USGS aerial photo, the remains of the northwest/southeast runway & its parallel taxiway were still quite recognizable,
while the outline of the shorter north/south crosswind runway was still barely perceptible.
A 4/1/13 photo by Dan Pimentel “of Willamette Airpark / T-Bird Airport...
looking northwest, down the clearing that should have been right where Runway 30 was positioned.”
The site of Willamette Airpark is located northwest of the intersection of South Danebo Avenue & West 11th Avenue.
Springfield Airport, Springfield, OR
44.06 North / 122.99 West (South of Portland, OR)
Springfield Airport, as depicted on the 1949 Crater Lake World Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Donald Felton).
This 30-acre airport was located in the middle of downtown Springfield.
Springfield Airport was evidently established at some point between 1945-48,
as it was not depicted on the 1945 Klamath Falls Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss).
The earliest reference to the field which has been located
was on the 1948 Portland Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy),
which described Springfield Airport as having a 2,000' unpaved runway.
Springfield was described in the same fashion
on the 1949 Crater Lake World Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Donald Felton).
The 1949 OR Airport Directory (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling)
depicted Springfield Airport as having a single 2,000 east/west runway.
The manager was listed as Milt Ruberg.
The 1950 USGS topo map depicted Springfield Airport as having a single east/west runway.
William Greenlee recalled, “I remember hearing stores from my grandpa about him flying his airplane out of Springfield to Portland to go to work.”
Bob Litten recalled, "Both Georgia Pacific & Weyerhauser flew in & out to visit their mills East of town
and it was a hugely popular gathering spot with many locally owned private planes parked there.
I learned to fly there in 1957 when it was still a gravel strip,
and kept flying out of there until about 1963."
Springfield's runway was evidently paved at some point between 1949-60,
as the 1960 OR Airport Directory (courtesy of Ron Dupas) depicted the field
as having a single 2,000' asphalt east/west runway.
Several hangars were depicted on the northeast & southeast side of the field,
as well as an office & a restaurant.
The operator was listed as the McKenzie Flying Service.
The 1962 AOPA Airport Directory described the "Springfield (McKenzie Flying Service)" Airport
as having a single 2,500' asphalt Runway 7/25.
It listed the operator as H.M. Ruberg.
An undated aerial view looking north at Springfield Airport from the 1964 OR Airport Directory (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling).
It described Springfield as having a 2,000' paved Runway 7/25,
and listed the operator as McKenzie Flying Service.
The 1967 Klamath Falls Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss)
described Springfield as having a 2,000' runway.
Mark Fryburg recalled, “The old Springfield Airport... I learned to fly there 1967-68.
It was originally owned by Milt Ruberg, of DBA McKenzie Flying Service.
He was also local FAA Examiner.
Milt owned an Aerocar that was mostly hangared & often had its engine quit after landing.
The airport flourished under two GI Bills, post WW-II and post VietNam.
Thousands of people found their love of flying there with its east/west 2,000' runway with cottonwoods to the east
and power lines to the west & an almost constant crosswind from the northwest.
They said, 'If you learn to fly at Springfield, you can fly just about anywhere.'”
Springfield Airport, as depicted on the 1968 Portland Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss).
Terry Liittschwager recalled, “I learned to fly at the old Springfield Airport in 1969.
Many fond memories of a much better time for general aviation.”
Springfield Airport had a long history as a center for crop-dusting planes & helicopters.
During much of that time, the main insecticide used was the now-banned DDT.
The helicopters would come in & dump on the ground whatever was left in their tanks.
Nobody really thought twice about it because DDT was legal at the time.
A 1970 photo by Stephen Schneider, taken in front of the cafe on the southeast side of the Springfield Airport,
looking west at unidentified biplane in front of the Mckenzie Flying Service.
According to Mark Fryburg, “I think it closed to public around 1971-72.
It was used for skydiving shortly thereafter.”
According to Jesse Litten (who learned to fly at the old Springfield Airport),
"When the airport was closed,
Milt Ruberg took his McKenzie Flying Service over to the Eugene Municipal Airport."
Bob Litten recalled, "Springfield's business district was moving too close to the West end of the runway
and as is frequently the case there was inadequate zoning to protect the airport.
Short cited on the city's part, in my opinion."
After the Springfield Airport closed down, the site (which was owned by a trust) was found to be contaminated.
According to Blake Hasting (who ultimately redeveloped the site),
"It looked as if it would cost millions of dollars to clean it up, so it basically sat vacant for decades.
Every broker & developer knew about the site, and a lot of deals were proposed.
At one point, the trust tried to give the land away to the city.
But ultimately everybody walked away because of the liability issues."
Gradually, the land became something of a dump.
"There must have been 20 abandoned cars on the site in addition to a homeless camp," says Hastings.
The field was still labeled "Springfield Airport" on the 1986 USGS topo map,
and the runway & hangars were still depicted,
even though the field had apparently been abandoned for more than a decade.
According to Mark Fryburg, the “runway was still visible as late as 1990
running directly into the wall of the K-Mart.”
In the 1994 USGS aerial photo, the remains of the runway & paved ramp area were still visible.
Hastings & his partners bought the property for $700,000 in 1996 & began a two-year cleanup program.
The property was eventually sold to Wal-Mart for $5.8 million.
How many small airports have befallen the fate of becoming a Wal-Mart?
According to William Greenlee, “Some time between 1994-2004 Walmart built a Super Center.
Also during that time Jerrys Home Improvements built a store in between what was K-Mart (now Wilco Farm Store) & Walmart.
In 2010 Jerrys added a second building.
There is no trace of the old Springfield Airport.”
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