Empty airports in warzones, little known airfields and airplane boneyards: welcome to the strange world of abandoned airports. For whatever reason, these 17 airports, some suggested by you in places like Spain and the US were left to wither, leaving little-known military bases and wasted aircraft debris behind.
Check out the creepy photos and find out where exactly you could go and pay your respects to these run-down runways.
1. 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.
What else to see near Nicosia International Airport: Olive groves, Cyprus’s churches and Mount Olympus.
2. 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.
What else to see near Johnston Atoll Airport: Hawaii’s beaches and the incredible surf.
3. Castellón–Costa Azahar Airport, Spain
Officially declared ‘open’ in March 2011, no commercial flight had actually left from or landed at Castellón-Costa Azahar Airport until very recently – Ryanair now operate out of here. So while not technically abandoned, this €150 million airport near Valencia has been loved for many years and its enduring feature 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.
What else to see near Castellón–Costa Azahar Airport: To the south, Valencia, but if you travel further north you’ll come across a little town called Peniscola. This is a white-washed secret town where the locals are heading for buckets of mussels and chips – join them.
4. Don Quijote Airport, Spain
If you thought €150 million 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.
What else to see near Don Quijote Airport: The Alzacazar of San Juan and Toledo, an ancient city just an hour’s drive between the airport and Madrid.
5. 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.
What else to see near Berlin Templehof: Berlin itself, the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and of course the Wall.
6. Croydon Airport, UK
Said to be one of three, iconic, pre-World War II airports in Europe (along with Le Bourget in Paris and Templehof in Berlin) Croydon was redolent of the romance of early aviation. Several famous figures, from 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.
What else to see near Croydon Airport: London city centre, art galleries and cool cafés in Shoreditch.
7. RAF Binbrook, UK
The UK has a number of old disused airfields just waiting to be turned into the next ‘regional hub’ or Heathrow’s eleventh 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 that it was the film set for 1990 flick Memphis Belle.
What else to see near Binbrook: Lincoln Cathedral and Lincoln University’s Student Union for cheap food and drinks.
8. 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.
What else to see near Gaza International Airport: Travel is not advised for international visitors, which is a shame because Palestine is a truly beautiful place.
9. 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.
What else to see near Stapleton International Airport: Denver, Union Station, the Rocky Mountains
10. 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).
What else to see near El Toro: Disney Land and Universal Studios, the Pacific Coast Highway to San Diego.
11. Galeville, Shawangunk, USA
The small military airfield in upstate New York was built during World War II 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.
What else to see near Galeville: Grab that cream cheese bagel without going into NYC at Lox of Bagels (3103 Route 9W, Saugerties, NY 12477).
12. Floyd Bennett Field, New York, USA
Formerly one of New York’s major airports, Floyd Bennett Field is synonymous 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.
What else to see near Floyd Bennett Field: Eat $1 pizza slices, go vintage shopping and see contemporary art at the New Museum.
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.
What else to see near Robert Mueller Municipal Airport: Head into Austin for live music on 6th Street or a night at the rodeo.
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.
What else to see near Kai Tak: Lantau Island and Disney World Hong Kong.
Discovered by you
You told us which creepy abandoned airports were your favourite, and we listened…
15. Montreal Mirabel Airport, Canada
Montreal Mirabel was supposed to be a hub for commercial flights, but after opening in 1975, it became increasing difficult to get passengers to fork over the fare for the out of town location – thus, it became a white elephant for the current Trudeau government. Since then it’s been used as a testing ground, and starred in The Terminal (2004).
What else to see near Montreal Mirabel Airport: Montreal and St Joseph’s Oratory, plus a ride on a Bixi bike.
16. RAF Upper Heyford Airport, UK
This started off as an RFC Airbase in 1915, and in the 20s and 30s it evolved to become an RAF bomber base. After World War II, the airbase was leased by the US Air Force as part of NATO. The airfield was handed back to the UK in 1994, but now, it’s unused.
What else to see near Heyford: Oxford, the nearby city and its university. Bicester Village shopping outlet for designer goods at low prices.
17. David Monthan Airfield, Arizona, USA
This is the world’s largest airplane boneyard, where the previous aircraft bodies from the Marines, the Navy, the US Army and the Coast Guard now ‘lay to rest’. The David Monthan Air Force Base, directly opposite the boneyard, is still in use from the US Navy.
What else to see near David Monthan Airfield: The Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson. The Saguaro National Park.
Not spooked enough?
Whether it’s derelict hotels or entire villages which have been deserted, there’s something strangely creepy about the following abandoned tourist attractions.
Guests are certainly few and far between at the following abandoned – and strangely beautiful – resorts.
Abandoned houses, roofless and wind-whipped. Rusting railway lines, stretching off to nowhere. From Australia to the UK, check out these eerie ghost towns and villages around the world.
Translated from the original article by Patricia Cuni.