Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:
© 2003, © 2013 by Paul Freeman. Revised 4/20/13.
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Brown Airport / St. Johnsbury Airport (revised 10/23/10) - Champlain Airport (revised 11/2/11)
Fort Ethan Allen AAF (revised 4/20/13)
Champlain Airport, Colchester, VT
44.54 North / 73.28 West (Northwest of Boston, MA)
Champlain Airport, as depicted on the 1947 USGS topo map.
“This little airstrip served the community known as Mallet’s Bay in Colchester just north of Burlington”, according to Jonathan Westerling.
“Mallets Bay started out as a collection of Summer cottages,
and many of its residents would fly into this little airport for their summer stays.”
The date of establishment of Champlain Airport has not been determined.
The earliest depiction of Champlain Airport which has been located was on the 1947 USGS topo map.
The 1956 USGS topo map depicted “Champlain Landing Field” as an open area, without any other details.
A 1961 photo of Champlain Airport by Doug Riach shows a typically snowy VT scene,
with 3 Pipers, a hangar, and the airport sign.
A 1961 photo (courtesy of Doug Riach) of Doug in front of a Piper Tri-Pacer at Chaplain Airport.
A 1964 aerial photo depicted Champlain Airport as having 2 perpendicular grass runways,
with 4 single-engine aircraft parked around a collection of hangars on the southeast side.
The 1967 AOPA Airport Directory (according to Jonathan Westerling)
described Champlain as having 2 sod runways: 2,000' Runway 2/20 & 1,475' Runway 11/29.
It was said to be attended daily, and had facilities for minor repairs.
The operator was listed as Vermont Aviation.
Bette Fineman remembered her days at the Champlain Airport:
“I kept my Tiger Moth there... The airport manager Charlie Brink & his wife Virginia
were quite the characters & I knew them between 1978 & whenever the town closed the airport in favor of the park.
The old wood hangar was full of bats as I recall,
and in the spring, Charlie sprayed bad stuff at the back & another fellow stood in the open door with 2 tennis racquets,
a grisly but interesting & effective operation.
Both runways were used... I used [the smaller crosswind runway] myself one day when the wind came up
and my biplane needed to land pretty directly into it.
That day I was flying rides to benefit the EAA chapter scholarship program
and raised over $500 in biplane rides by myself.
One of the rides I gave was to Gracie Pugh, who was over 70 at the time (about 1979 I think that was).
She & her husband started Burlington Airport in the 1920s
and Gracie was the first licensed woman pilot in Vermont.
After her flight in the Tiger Moth, she was in tears.”
The 1972 USGS topo map depicted “Champlain Landing Field” as having 2 unpaved runways,
with several buildings (hangars?) along the south side of the field.
Mitch Loiselle recalled, “Champlain was a great little airport back in its heyday!
I learned to fly off grass there, back in 1975 with a friend’s Cessna 150.”
A circa late-1970s picture of Jon Fineman in his homebuilt “Flybaby”
ready for takeoff at Champlain Airport (courtesy of William Schwittek).
The 1983 Montreal Sectional Chart (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling)
depicted Champlain as having a 1,900' unpaved runway.
According to the Vermont Historical Society website,
“A rare F2 tornado hit Colchester on August 8, 1983.
The storm capsized aircraft at the Champlain Airport & snapped trees 100 feet tall.”
A circa late-1980s aerial view of Champlain Airport by Joseph Melanson of www.skypic.com.
Champlain Airport was evidently closed (for reasons unknown) at some point between 1983-88,
as it was no longer listed at all in the 1988 AOPA Airport Directory (according to Jonathan Westerling).
According to Jonathan Westerling, “By the early 1990s
the airport had been converted into a park with baseball diamonds, and tennis courts.
Unfortunately for the community & the people that flew there,
other than its name 'Airport Park', there are no other references or plaques
commemorating the colorful aviation happenings that occurred there over prior decades.”
The 1999 USGS aerial photo showed how the site of the former Champlain Airport has been converted into Airport Park,
with the former airfield being converted into baseball fields.
At least one of the buildings along the southeast side of the property date from its days as an airport.
A nice January 2006 photo by Jonathan Westerling of the snow-covered scene
looking south along what used to be Champlain's Runway 20.
A January 2006 photo by Jonathan Westerling of the entrance to “Airport Park”,
showing the former Champlain Airport office building.
The site of Champlain Airport is located west of the intersection of Colchester Point Road & Pine Meadow Drive.
Thanks to Jonathan Westerling for pointing out this airfield.
Brown Airport / St. Johnsbury Airport, Lyndonville, VT
44.5 North / 72.01 West (Northwest of Boston, MA)
St. Johnsbury Municipal Airport, as depicted on the June 1939 Burlington Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
The date of construction of this former small general aviation airport has not been determined.
The earliest reference to the airfield which has been located
was in The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo).
It described the St. Johnsbury Municipal Airport as being located 4 miles north of the town.
The field was said to have 2 sod runways: a 2,000' north/south strip & a 1,700' east/west strip,
and the field was said to have a hangar.
The earliest depiction which has been located of St. Johnsbury Municipal Airport
was on the June 1939 Burlington Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
An aerial view looking southeast at the St. Johnsbury Municipal Airport
from the Airport Directory Company's 1941 Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
The directory described St. Johnsbury Municipal Airport as having 2 sod runways: 2,500' north/south & 1,700' east/west.
The field was said to have a hangar.
“Brown” Airport was depicted as a commercial/municipal airport
on the August 1942 Burlington Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
St. Johnsbury Airport, as depicted on the 1943 USGS topo map.
The April 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)
described St. Johnsbury's "Brown" Airport as having a 2,300' unpaved runway.
A 1945 photo (courtesy of Chris Landy) of his father (Frank Landry) in front of a taildragger & an “Airways Inc” hangar at the St. Johnsbury Airport.
Chris reported, “My Dad would have been 18 at the time.
He said a bunch of them went to the airport to meet a pilot there - someone they knew, I think - but did not go flying.”
A 1947 aerial photo depicted the St. Johnsbury Airport as having 2 unpaved runways,
with a hangar southeast of the runway intersection.
St. Johnsbury Airport, as depicted on the 1949 USGS topo map.
The 1962 AOPA Airport Directory described St. Johnsbury Municipal Airport
as having 2 turf runways: 2,300' Runway 18/36 & a 1,500' crosswind runway.
The field was said to offer fuel, repairs, hangars, and tiedowns,
and the operator was listed as Northeast Flying, Inc.
The St. Johnsbury Airport was still depicted on the 1972 USGS topo map
(and depicted with a symbol of a 4-engine swept-wing aircraft, which is quite ironic for such a tiny grass airfield).
The 1972 Flight Guide (courtesy of Chris Kennedy) depicted St. Johnsbury Municipal
as having a single 2,300' Runway 2/20, with a cluster of buildings (hangars?) east of the runway.
The 1976 AOPA Airports USA directory (according to Chris Kennedy)
listed Saint Johnsbury Municipal as having a single 2,300 turf Runway.
"St. Johnsbury" was depicted on the April 1978 Montreal Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)
as having a 2,000' unpaved runway.
The St. Johnsbury Airport was evidently closed (for reasons unknown) within the next year,
as it was no longer listed in the 1979 Flight Guide (according to Chris Kennedy).
By the time of the 1983 USGS topo map,
the St. Johnsbury Airport itself was no longer depicted,
although the distinctly-shaped clearing for the 2 former runways was still depicted.
As seen in the 1999 USGS aerial photo,
the clearing of the 2 former grass runways was still quite recognizable,
but several large industrial buildings have been constructed over portions of the former runways.
According to Mitch Fournier, "My faded memories tell me that the curved-roofed building in the middle of the image
might be the old hangar."
The former hangar was evidently removed at some point between 1999-2006,
as a 2006 aerial photo showed that it had been replaced by an industrial building,
removing the last trace of the former St. Johnsbury Airport.
The site of St. Johnsbury Airport is located west of the intersection of Route 5 & Airport Road,
Fort Ethan Allen AAF, Burlington, VT
44.5 North / 73.16 West (Northwest of Boston, MA)
An August 12, 1924 aerial view of Fort Ethan Allen AAF (courtesy of Terry Goggin).
The date of construction of this former small military airfield is unknown.
Fort Ethan Allen itself was established in 1892,
on land once owned by Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen.
The Fort served as an artillery training base during WW2.
The date of construction of Fort Ethan Allen's airfield is unknown.
The earliest depiction of the airfield which has been located
was on an August 12, 1924 aerial view (courtesy of Terry Goggin).
According to Russ Chmela, a Vermont PBS documentary in the 1980s
said that "the flying field at Ethan Allen was only used during the 1920s & 1930s,
for operating biplanes (types were not given on the program,
but they looked like Curtiss Jennies & similar rickety craft).
The highlight of this field's use was during the great flood of 1927
when the aircraft based at Ethan Allen were used to search for missing people lost in the disaster
and for aerial photo recon of the flooded areas,
since the areas affected had poor roads leading to them."
According to Brian Lindner, Vermont's first fatal military aircraft crash occurred after a takeoff from Ethan Allen on 11/14/27.
“They crashed in Montpelier soon thereafter & Herbert Hoover's personal assistant was killed.
The plane was a U.S. Army PT-1 #27-157.
They were attempting to land at the Montpelier Landing Field.”
The 1929 "Rand McNally Standard Map of VT with Air Trails" (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)
depicted Fort Ethan Allen as an auxiliary airfield, measuring 1,800' x 1,500'.
The location & layout of Ft. Ethan Allen Field,
as depicted on the June 3, 1930 Department of Commerce Airway Bulletin (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling).
The field was described as consisting of a 67.5 acre rectangular sod field,
without any hangars or other buildings directly associated with the airfield.
The 1936 Department of Commerce Airfield Directory (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling)
described “Fort Ethan Allen Field, Army” as consisting of a rectangular sod field, measuring 2,600' x 1,800'.
An undated view (circa 1930s?) of several unidentified biplanes at Fort Ethan Allen AAF (courtesy of Shirley Bergeron).
An aerial view looking east at Fort Ethan Allen AAF
from The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo).
The directory described Fort Ethan Allen AAF as consisting of a 2,600' x 1,800' sod landing area.
The aerial photo in the directory depicted a row of five hangars on the northwest portion of the field.
Fort Ethan Allen was depicted as a military airfield on the June 1939 Burlington Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
According to Russ Chmela, "All routine flying at Ethan Allen was finished before the 1940s."
Although it have been mostly inactive,
Fort Ethan Allen Army Airfield was still depicted on the 1942 Burlington Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
According to a history of Fort Ethan Allen, the Fort was declared inactive in 1944,
and was subsequently used as a storage depot for equipment.
USGS topo map 1948.
Forth Ethan Allen was reused as after WW2 by the National Guard.
The airfield was depicted on the 1948 Burlington Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy) as "Ft. Ethan Allen (NG)",
and described as having a 2,400' unpaved runway.
Strangely, "Ft. Ethan Allen (Army)" was depicted as an active airfield
on the 1951 Burlington Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy),
yet the remarks in the Aerodromes table on the chart said "Closed".
The field was described as consisting of a single 3,000' unpaved runway.
Fort Ethan Allen AFB was still depicted as an active airfield on the 1952 Burlington Sectional Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe).
In a potentially confusing development, the similarly-named Ethan Allen Air Force Base was established in the 1950s,
a few miles to the southwest at Burlington International Airport.
Saint Michael's College & the University of Vermont signed a contract in 1964
which gave them ownership to designated areas of the former Fort Ethan Allen base for educational purposes.
An 8/11/72 USGS aerial photo showed Ft. Ethan Allen's paved ramp still existed, and the grass runway area was still largely clear.
Russ lived near Fort Ethan Allen from 1980-95,
and reported that "I passed Ethan Allen many times a week
and did often see helicopters there, mostly UH-1s, Kiowas [OH-58s] and Loaches [OH-6s]."
The site of Fort Ethan Allen AAF was still labeled "Camp Johnson (Nat Guard)" on the 1981 USGS topo map.
The paved ramp of the airfield was still depicted on the 1987 USGS topo map.
However, the Fort Ethan Allen airfield was no longer depicted at all (even as an abandoned airfield)
on 1998 aeronautical charts.
As seen in the 1999 USGS aerial photo,
the former paved ramp still existed, and the grass runway area was still largely clear.
A January 2006 photo by Jonathan Westerling of an F-4 Phantom, UH-1 Huey,
and several tanks just within the entrance to Camp Johnson (as the Ft Ethan Allen airfield site is now known).
A January 2006 panorama by Jonathan Westerling taken from the northeast corner of the former airfield area at Ft Ethan Allen
shows that it remains relatively clear.
The site of Fort Ethan Allen AAF is located north of the intersection of Hercules Drive & Academy Lane.
Thanks to Chris Kennedy for pointing out this airfield.
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