Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:

Virginia: Eastern Richmond area

© 2002, © 2017 by Paul Freeman. Revised 9/9/17.

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Central Airport (revised 9/8/17) - Elko Decoy Airfield (revised 11/26/13) - Thompson Field / Lee Field (revised 9/9/17) - Waverly Airport (revised 10/30/16)

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Central Airport, Richmond, VA

37.555, -77.403 (East of Downtown Richmond, VA)

Two hangars (northeast of the intersection at the bottom-left)

and an open field were depicted at the site of Central Airport on the 1939 USGS topo map,

but the field was otherwise not labeled (for reasons unknown).



This general aviation airport was evidently established at some point between 1937-38,

as it was not yet listed among active airports in the 1934 Department of Commerce Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy),

nor depicted on the 1935 Norfolk Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy),

nor listed in The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airport Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo).

The earliest dated reference to Central Airport which has been located

was its listing in The Airport Directory Company's 1938 Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy).



According to Claude Beck, “Central Airport was located on Route 360 (Mechanicsville Pike)

and was operated by Floyd Clark & Aubrey Loving during the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's.

It was next to the old Glen Lea School.

I had my first ride when I was 12 years old in a Tri-Motor in 1938.”



Claude continued, “The East/West runway was 5,000' +.

It ran from Highway 360 east toward Glenwood golf course.

The diagonal runway ran Southeast/Northwest - it was 5,000' +.

The short North/South runway/tie-down was approximately 1,800-2,000'.

The main hangar was located at the junction of the East/West runway & the short North/South runway.

This was the maintenance hangar adjacent to Highway 360.

The Northeast/Southwest diagonal runway was approximately 3,000' over trees with a drop-in approach.

Floyd liked it & I liked it but not many used it.

There were T-hangars behind the main hangar & next to Glen Lea School.

There was a long bench next to the office door facing east.

This was populated with weekend hangar pilots who would critique the take off & landings of any victim they could harass.

I was told that my landings sounded like 'A garbage can falling off a truck on a city street at 2:00 AM in the morning'.

Floyd Clark told me that any airplane I could walk away from after it had made ground contact was a good landing.

He also said 'The two most useless things you can have while flying an airplane were, runway behind and altitude above'.

It was a great hang-out in the 1930's for a farm boy who loved airplanes.”



An undated (circa 1930s?) aerial view of Central Airport, showing 3 high-wing monoplanes & a biplane.

This picture of a picture was taken by Kenneth Keeton,

who reported, “I attended the VA ANG last F-16 training mission on 6/20/07, and in the Operations Building there it was!”



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

was on the August 1940 Norfolk Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

It depicted Central as a commercial/municipal airport.



A circa 1940 photo of a Piper Cub in front of a hangar at Central Airport.



A circa 1942-43 aerial view looking north at Central Airport from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock)

depicted the field as having 3 runways.

The directory Central as a 168 acre irregularly-shaped property within which were 3 sod & gravel runways, with the longest being the 4,500' WNW/ESE strip.

The field was said to have a total of 15 wood & metal hangars, with the largest being a 60' square structure.

The field was said to be privately owned & operated.



The April 1946 Norfolk Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

continued to depict Central as a commercial/municipal airport.



Central Airport, as depicted on a 1946 USGS map.



An undated photo of a large number of Piper Cubs at Central Airport.



An undated photo of Floyd Clark, Aubrey Loving, and a police officer in front of an unidentified police monoplane,

with a Central Airport hangar in the background.



A late-1940s photo of a hangar & several monoplanes at Central Airport.



Claude Beck recalled of Central Airport, “I learned to fly there in 1948.”



A 1952 aerial view showed Central Airport as having 3 grass runways,

with 3 hangars & 6 light aircraft on the west side.



Gordon Gallison recalled, “Central Airport: When I was about 3 years old, my Dad would take me to Central airport to see the airplanes.

Sometimes a Navy blimp was there to refuel & get some food.

I still remember when he asked the blimp commander if he could lift me into the gondola as the wind moved it around the mooring mast.

That was my first blimp 'ride'.”



An August 9, 1953 photo by Carlton McGinley (courtesy of Dianne Gardner) of a Central Airport hangar.

According to Diane Gardner, “My father, Carlton 'Mac' McGinley housed his plane, a Ryan PT low-wing trainer, at Central Airport.

He owned & rented many planes from Central & knew many of the men that congregated at the airport.”



The last aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of Central Airport

was on the July 1954 Norfolk Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

It depicted Central as having a 4,900' unpaved runway.



The last aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of Central Airport was on the 1955 USGS topo map.



Central Airport was evidently closed (for reasons unknown) at some point between 1954-56,

as it was no longer depicted at all on the January 1956 Norfolk Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy)

or the 1956 USGS topo map.



A 1968 aerial view no longer showed any trace of Central Airport, with the site having been covered by housing,

and it was no longer depicted on the 1969 USGS topo map.



The name of Central Airport apparently lived on,

as the 1984 USGS topo map labeled the property as “Central Gardens”.



The layout of Central Airport's 4 runways, annotated by Claude Beck over the 1994 USGS aerial photo of the property.

There were no visible traces of the former airport remaining at the site.



A 2017 aerial view showed no trace remaining of Central Airport.



The site of Central Airport is located east of the intersection of Interstate 64 & Mechanicsville Turnpike.

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Thompson Field / Lee Field / Port Richmond Airport, Port Richmond, VA

37.56, -76.85 (East of Richmond, VA)

A postmark commemorating the 10/11/28 Dedication of Thompson Field, along with an Air Derby.



This short-lived small airport was located along the banks of the Pamunkey River.



The origins of Thompson Field were described in an article by Frances Hubbard in the 3/16/05 issue of the Tidewater Review.

According to the article, Thompson Field was named after Port Richmond's Mayor, Crosby Thompson.



The 8/3/28 issue of the Tidewater Review reported that work was progressing on the new Thompson Field,

which was said to have 2 graded runways: 3,000' & 2,000' long.

Several visits & inspections were made by military leaders from the Army's nearby Langley Field.



A postmark commemorated the 10/11/28 Dedication of Thompson Field, along with an Air Derby.



A December 10, 1928 photo of Thompson Field (courtesy of Frances Hubbard),

depicting what appeared to be several Army twin-engine biplane bombers along with a smaller single-engine biplane.



An undated (but presumably 1928) photo of Thompson Field,

showing several Army biplane fighters (courtesy of Frances Hubbard).



An undated (but presumably 1928) photo of Thompson Field,

showing several Army biplane fighters (courtesy of Frances Hubbard).



An undated (but presumably 1928) photo of Thompson Field,

of a Army single-engine biplane (courtesy of Frances Hubbard).



Elis Olsson also reported that the field was known by a local name - Lee Field,

a reference to the fact that the property was once owned by the family of Robert E. Lee.

But “the official name for this airport was Thompson Field.”



A 1/10/29 Department of Commerce Airway Bulletin described Thompson Field

as a municipal airport, owned by Crosby Thompson, and operated by the City of Port Richmond.

The field was said to consist of an irregularly-shaped 88-acre sandy clay parcel,

on which were depicted two 3,000' runways, oriented east/west & northwest/southeast.

The field was said to not have any lighting or hangars.



The 8/29/29 issue of the Tidewater Review reported that “Thompson Field... is said by the U.S. Army Air Corps

to be the best field in this part of the country & is in use by military & commercial planes.”



The 12/12/29 issue of the Tidewater Review reported of aerial combat manueavers stages at Thompson Field

using 24 aircraft from the Army's Langley Field & the Marines' Quantico Field.

It said that “aside from Langley Field & Byrd Field,

Thompson Field has more visiting planes than all other fields in VA.

Landings for the last 9 months total 1,058.”



Strangely, Thompson Field was not depicted at all on the 1930 USGS topo map.



The 6/23/32 issue of the Tidewater Review reported that a flying school had been estalished at Thompson Field.



A night airshow was held on 7/18/32 to celebrate the installation of Thompson Field's lighting system,

according to the 7/21/32 issue of the Tidewater Review.

A total of 1,500 enthusiasts were in attendance.



Thompson Field was described by the The Airport Directory Company's 1933 Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy)

as consisting of an irregularly-shaped 120 acre sod field,

with two 3,000' runways, oriented northwest/southeast & east/west.

The field was said to offer a hangar, fuel, and limited repairs.



The June 1934 U.S. Navy Aviation Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted the field as “Port Richmond” Airport.



The 1935 Norfolk Sectional Chart depicted “Thompson” Field as a commercial or municipal airport.



The 1/1/36 Department of Commerce Airway Bulletin

described Thompson Field as a municipal field, consisting of an irregularly-shaped sod field.

It was said to have 2 graded 3,000' runways, oriented northwest/southeast & east/west.

The field was said to offer facilities for servicing aircraft, day only.



Thompson Field was evidently abandoned at some point between 1936-37,

as it was no longer listed among active airfields

in The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy)

nor depicted at at all on the August 1940 Norfolk Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).



By 1944, a much larger West Point Airport with paved runways had been built by the federal government

5 miles to the southeast in nearby West Point.



A 1963 aerial view showed that the outline of Thompson Field was still recognizable,

but there were no other specific remains of the airfield.



An undated (circa 1990s?) aerial photo by David Robinson looking northeast at the site of historic Thompson Field (dark area in center),

with the new planned runway highlighted in red on the left.



In an interesting development, the property adjacent to this long-dormant airfield may see aviation activity again.

Elis Olsson reported in 2005, “David Robinson & I are working on permitting a grass strip on my parents' farm.

My planned sod airstrip will be in the barley field, which may be 1/2 mile west of the original Thompson Field. It will be 2,000' x 75'.”



A 2015 aerial photo showed remarkably after 86 years the outline of Thompson Field is still recognizable, although the area of the airfield is now wooded.

By comparing with the airfield layout as depicted on the 1929 Airway Bulletin, the original shape of the airfield is still easily discernible.



The site of Thompson Field is located on the north side of West Euclid Boulevard.

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Elko Decoy Airfield, Elko, VA

37.478, -77.23 (Southeast of Richmond International Airport, VA)

A circa 1942 photo (courtesy of Kenneth Keeton) of the Elko Decoy Airfield under construction by the 936th Camouflage Battalion.



According to a Henrico County history book (courtesy of Kenneth Keeton),

Early in World War II, the Federal Government seized the land west of White Oak Road & south of Portugee Road, some 2,400 acres.

Landowners were given 30 days to move so construction could start on a decoy airfield.

The purpose of the field was to fool any enemy bomber pilots.

The men of the 936th Camouflage Battalion spent a few months in late 1942 creating dummy landing runways that would look real from 20,000 feet.”



The decoy airfield was constructed 5 miles southeast of Richmond's Byrd Field,

and it was arranged in an identical fashion, with 3 'runways' in the same orientation as Byrd Field.

It was intended to protect Byrd Field by confusing enemy aircraft & drawing them away from their real target.

According to James "Slim" Wilberger, the decoy airfield was equipped with working lights,

as well as decoy airplanes, buildings and trucks constructed of plywood.



As constructed during the war, the decoy reportedly consisted of a network of roads in addition to the runways,

which were carved out of the dense woods to the southeast of Byrd Field.



A circa 1942 photo (courtesy of Kenneth Keeton) of a dummy aircraft constructed out of lumber & camouflage netting at the Elko Decoy Airfield.



A circa 1942 photo (courtesy of Kenneth Keeton) of a dummy truck at the Elko Decoy Airfield,

positioned at the edge of the treeline so as to give the impression of being one of a number of vehicles parked within the trees.



A remarkable 3/9/43 aerial view (from the National Archives, courtesy of Lyle Browning)

showed the Elko Decoy Airfield as having 3 runways (perhaps still in the process of being cleared)

along with an extensive network of taxiways & aircraft dispersal pads.

According to Lyle Browning, “Supposedly a pilot landed on one of the runways with a fairly large plane (I've heard a B-17 or a large civilian aircraft).

It would appear that the nort4hwest/southwest runway was in the best shape for landing so it was probably that one that was landed upon.”



According to a Henrico County history book (courtesy of Kenneth Keeton),

In September 1943 the 1896th Engineer Aviation Battalion moved from Byrd Field into camouflaged plywood Quonset huts at the decoy field.

They stayed until March 1944.”



It has been reported that the decoy airfield was located beyond the eastern terminus of Portugee Road,

beyond which the road turned to dirt.

At this point an unlocked gate sat at the western edge of the decoy airfield site.



The 1944 USGS topo map did not depict any trace of the Elko Decoy Airfield.



The 1946 Commerce Department Airman's Guide (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

described the “Elko Auxiliary Field” as being located “5 miles east of Richmond AAB,

is similar in design & layout to the Richmond AAB,

but runways are unsuitable for landing by aircraft of any type.

Care should be taken not to confuse this field with the Richmond AAB.”



The Elko decoy airfield was not depicted at all on the 1946 USGS topo map.



At the end of WW2, the federal government transferred the 2,400-acre Elko tract

to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

It was zoned M-1 & M-3 (Industrial) from the 1950s, but it sat abandoned for years.



According to James "Slim" Wilberger, the Elko tract was used after WW2 for occasional infantry training.



The only official depiction of the decoy airfield which has been located

was on a 1955 approach plate for Byrd Field.

The 3 runways of "Elko Dummy Airfield" were depicted on the approach plate

(which would make sense, as you wouldn't have wanted a pilot to mistake it for the 'real' airport).

The decoy airfield was apparently used as a bombing target by the National Guard fighter unit based at Byrd Field,

as the approach plate included the remark of "For bombing practice only" on the decoy airfield.



The 1957 USGS topo map depicted the outline of a portion of 3 runways of the Elko Decoy Airfield.



The Elko Decoy Airfield was not depicted at all on the 1965 Norfolk Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss),

or subsequent Sectionals.



A 3/20/63 USGS aerial view showed the very recognizable outline of 3 runways mimicking the layout of Richmond Byrd Field.



The 1994 USGS aerial photo showed the faintest trace of the triangular outline of the 3 decoy 'runways' in the center of the photograph.

The area was otherwise densely wooded.



When Interstates 64, 95, and 295 were constructed nearby,

the Elko Tract became more desirable for redevelopment.

In 1994, Henrico County officials commissioned a study: The Elko Tract, an Industrial Evaluation Report.



Lyle Browning recalled, “I did some archaeological survey of the Elko Tract in the 1990s.

I grew up in the area & was familiar with the Elko Tract.

When I did my archaeological survey there, Runway 2/20 was still virtually intact.

The runway surface was clay & it simply wouldn't grow anything.

It was wide & long enough as well as dense enough in dry weather to support aircraft.

Extrapolating back to WWII would make it a really convincing effort.”



A 1996 aerial view of the site of the Elko Decoy Airfield,

in which the alignment of the former decoy runways has been annotated.



On May 20, 1996, Henrico County, the Commonwealth of Virginia,

and the partnership of Motorola & Siemens Corporation announced their agreement

for development of a semiconductor DRAM manufacturing plant on the site of the Elko Tract,

now renamed the White Oak Technology Park.

Any traces of the former decoy airfield would presumably be removed in the course of the property's redevelopment.



However, James "Slim" Wilberger reported in 2004 that "So far the old airfield has not been affected."

He also reported that "this past fall the Virginia National Guard were holding field exercises in the woods."



The site of the Elko Decoy Airfield is located east of the intersection of Portugee Road & Technology Boulevard.

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Waverly Airport, Waverly, VA

37.06, -77.12 (Southeast of Richmond, VA)

A 1938 aerial view of Waverly Airport.



The Waverly Airport was evidently established at some point between 1935-36,

as it was not yet depicted on the 1935 Norfolk Sectional Chart.

The earliest reference to the field which has been located

was in the 1/1/36 Department of Commerce Airway Bulletin.

It described Waverly Airport as an auxiliary airfield, consisting of a rectangular sod field,

with two 1,800' runways.

The field was said to offer no servicing.



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

described Waverly as a municipal airport having two 1,800' sod runways in an "L" shape,

oriented east/west & north/south.



The earliest depiction of Wavery Airport which has been located was a 1938 aerial photo.

It depicted the field as having 2 unpaved runways, oriented in an “L” shape.



According to the book "Virginia Airports" by Vera Rollo & Norman Crabill (published by the VAHS),

a 5/20/38 article noted that this was the date of the first airmail pickup at Waverly.



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

was on the July 1941 Norfolk Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

It depicted Waverly as an auxiliary airfield.



A circa 1942-45 aerial view looking east at Waverly Airport from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock)

depicted the field as having 2 grass runways.

The directory described Waverly Airport as a 164 acre rectangular property

within which were 2 sod runways, measuring 1,670' northeast/southwest & 1,500' northwest/southeast.

The field was said to have 4 wooden hangars, each measuring 40' x 24'.

The airport was said to be owned by the City of Waverly, and privately operated.



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

described Waverly as having a 1,700' unpaved runway.



The 1944 USGS topo map depicted Waverly Airport as having 2 perpendicular runways.



The April 1945 Norfolk Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Waverly as a commercial or municipal field.



Two 1949 photos of Waverly Airport,

depicted a single taildragger at the field, along with a row of 5 wooden hangars along one of Waverly's grass runways.



The runway at Waverly had been apparently been significantly lengthened at some point between 1944-65,

as the Aerodromes table on the 1965 Norfolk Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss)

described Waverly Municipal as having 2 runways, with the longest being a 4,400' turf strip.



The last photo which has been located showing aircraft at Waverly Airport was a 1966 aerial view,

which showed a single light aircraft along with 2 small hangars to the west of the runway intersection.



Waverly was still depicted as an active airport on the 1972 Washington Sectional Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe),

and described as having a 4,100' unpaved runway.



The Waverly Airport was evidently closed (for reasons unknown) at some point between 1972-75,

as it was no longer depicted at all (even as an abandoned airfield)

on the 1975 Washington Sectional Chart (courtesy of Ed Drury).



The 2 abandoned runways of the former Waverly Airport were still depicted on the 1989 USGS topo map,

but it was labeled simply as "Landing Strip".



A 1989 USGS aerial view looking northwest showed the 2 grass runways of Waverly Airport still remained remarkably cleared,

but there was not sign of the hangars depicted in the 1949 photos.



An aerial photo by Paul Freeman, taken 6/04 from a Diamond Eclipse,

looking north at the remains of the 2 runways at Waverly.

The outline of the 2 former runways were still recognizable,

but you wouldn't necessarily recognize it as a former airfield unless you knew where to look.

Thus, this former airfield is rapidly slipping away into obscurity.

The primary reason is, contrast to the 1989 aerial photo,

the main runway (oriented northeast/southwest) had been filled in with trees.

The rectangular outline of the former runway was still recognizable,

as the trees within the former runway area were uniformly shorter than those trees in the surrounding forest.



A 6/04 aerial photo by Paul Freeman of the remains of the former crosswind runway at Waverly.

The area of the shorter crosswind runway had remained cleared (for reasons unknown),

with several vehicles stored in the area (including what appeared to be a former school bus).

There was no sign of any former airport buildings.



A 2014 aerial view looking northwest at the site of Waverly Airport showed the outlines of the 2 former runways were still recognizable,

but land had been cleared adjacent to the 2 runways for some unknown purpose.



The site of Waverly Airport is located on the northeast side of Route 460, one mile northwest of Waverly, VA.

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