White elephants, alien landing strips, and Croydon: welcome to the strange world of abandoned airports.
1. Castellón–Costa Azahar Airport, Spain
What's Spanish for White Elephant? Officially declared 'open' in March 2011, no commercial flight has actually left from or landed at Castellón-Costa Azahar Airport. Built at a cost of 150 million euros, the enduring feature of this freshly-deceased airport near Valencia is a statue in honour of Carlos Fabra, the local politician who was the driving force behind its construction. He is under investigation for tax evasion and corruption.
Original photo by Manuel Carballo on Flickr
2. Don Quijote Airport, Spain
If you thought 150 million euros was a waste of money, how about 1.1 billion? Don Quijote Airport (or Ciudad Real Central, to give it its official name) was conceived in the 1990s as an alternative to Madrid-Barajas. Fifty minutes from Madrid on a high-speed rail connection with Seville, it was Spain's first private international airport, and Spain's last - it went bust and closed in April 2012.
3. Berlin Templehof, Germany
Built in 1923, Berlin-Tempelhof closed to passengers on 31 October 2008. Until the construction of the Pentagon, it was the largest building in the world. It played a key role in the Berlin Airlift but over the years it became obsolete. Today 'Tempelhof Field' is the largest public park in the city and the airport buildings host events such as raves and fashion shows.
4. Croydon Airport, England
Said to be one of the three iconic pre-World War Two airports in Europe, along with Le Bourget in Paris and Templehof in Berlin (see above), Croydon was redolent of the romance of early aviation. Several famous figures, from Amy Johnson and Charles Lindbergh, to Winston Churchill, graced its runway, which crossed a road on which traffic had to be stopped by a man waving a red flag. It is also famous for being the first airport with air traffic control. Today, the old terminal Airport House still stands, decorated by a De Havilland Heron.
5. Nicosia International Airport, Cyprus
Nicosia International Airport was the most important airport in Cyprus but commercial activity stopped after the Turkish invasion of 1974. Today it is a no-man's land, a United Nations buffer zone from which both Greeks and Turks are barred.
6. RAF Binbrook, England
The UK has a number of old disused airfields just waiting to be turned into the next 'regional hub' or Mayor of London-named mega project mooted as an alternative to Heathrow's 11th runway. RAF Binbrook, near Brookenby in Lincolnshire was used by bombers during World War II and continued to be used by the Air Force until the 1980s. Its biggest claim to fame is as the set for 1990 flick Memphis Belle.
Original photo by Stevie58 on Flickr
7. Gaza International Airport, Gaza Strip
Also known as Yasser Arafat International Airport, this airport served the Gaza Strip. Opened in 1998, 700,000 passengers passed though it a year, but not for long. In December 2001 Israeli forces shelled its radar station and control tower, putting it out of action. A few weeks later, they bulldozed the runway.
Original photo by Mohamed Jabaly on Flickr
8. Stapleton International Airport, USA
Stapleton International Airport served Denver, Colorado between 1929 and 1995, when it was replaced by Denver International. In July 1997, a storm caused severe damage to its structure, so it had to get knocked down completely. All that remains today is one old control tower.
9. Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, USA
"Welcome to Earth!". So Will Smith greets an alien arrival in Independence Day. Scenes from the classic 1996 sci-fi blockbuster were filmed at the wonderfully-named Air Station Marine Corps El Toro airfield in the California desert, which looks exactly like the kind of place that an extra-terrestrial attack force would use as a rendezvous point on our planet. It closed in 1999 (not because of alien attack).
Original photo by PH2 Bruce Trombecky on Wikimedia Commons
10. Galeville, Shawangunk, USA
The small military airfield in upstate New York was built during World War Two for use as a military academy. It had two paved runways and for some years operated as a civilian airport. It's now part of the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge.
Original photo by rchrdcnnnghm on Flickr
11. Johnston Atoll Airport, USA
Imagine trying to land a plane here! Johnston Atoll Airport is, as the name suggests, a small atoll in the Pacific Ocean, several hundred miles south of Hawaii. It was a US military base for much of the 20th century but closed in 2005. Built on a small island, it housed 400 men and had an underground hospital. Attacked by Japanese submarines in During World War II, it now lies in ruins and abandoned.
Original photo by Ssgt. Val Gempis USAF / Wikimedia Commons
12. Floyd Bennett Field, New York, USA
Formerly one of New York's major airports, Floyd Bennett Field is synonomous with the exploits of Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes. Its glory days over, it was replaced by Newark Airport in New Jersey. Although these days is a public park, it retains some of the historic buildings that were part of the airport.
Original photo by Ad Meskens / Wikimedia Commons
13. Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, USA
Robert Mueller Municipal Airport served the city of Austin in Texas from 1928 to 1999 when it was officially closed and replaced by the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. Now built over, the only thing that reminds us that one day there was an airport here is the old control tower.
Original photo by WhisperToMe / Wikimedia Commons
14. Kai Tak International Airport , Hong Kong
Kai Tak International was Hong Kong's main airport from 1925 to 1998, when it closed and all traffic moved to the new Hong Kong International Airport, 30 miles to the west. Surrounded by mountains and buildings, it was one of the world's most notorious for take-offs and landings, especially on the famous track 13, since the aircraft had to make a turn of 90 or even 180 degrees.
Original photo by Noooob / Wikimedia Commons
Translated from the original article by Patricia Cuni.