Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:

Southeastern Arizona

© 2002, © 2013 by Paul Freeman. Revised 11/29/13.

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Benson Intermediate Field / (Original) Benson Airport (revised 11/17/08) - Cochise Intermediate (revised 7/22/12)

Douglas Aux AAF #2 / Forrest Field (revised 2/7/12) - Douglas Aux AAF #3 / Webb Field (revised 7/28/05)

Douglas Aux AAF #5 / Hereford Field (revised 11/29/13) - Fort Grant Airport / Angel Field (revised 11/29/13)

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Benson Intermediate Field / (Original) Benson Airport (31AZ), Benson, AZ

31.96 North / 110.26 West (Southeast of Tucson, AZ)

Benson Intermediate Field, as depicted on the October 1935 Phoenix Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

Photo of the airfield while operational has not been located.



This little airport has been opened, closed, and reopened multiple times throughout its 70-year lifespan.

The original airport for the town of Benson was located southeast of the town.

It was originally established as one of the network of emergency landing fields

built by the Bureau of Air Commerce.



The Benson Intermediate Field was evidently built at some point between 1930-31,

as it was not yet listed in a 1930 Department of Commerce Airway Bulletin (courtesy of David Brooks).

The earliest reference which has been located of the Benson Intermediate Field

was in the 1931 Department of Commerce Airway Bulletin (courtesy of David Brooks).

It was described as being the Department of Commerce's Site 45B,

located 2 miles east of town, and having a 4,000' east/west runway.



The earliest depiction which has been located of the Benson Intermediate Field

was on the October 1935 Phoenix Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

It was depicted as Site 45B.



Benson continued to be listed as Site 45B up through the 1936 Department of Commerce Airway Bulletin (courtesy of David Brooks).



By the time of the 1938 Department of Commerce Airway Bulletin (courtesy of David Brooks),

Benson's designation had evidently changed to Site 14B.



It continued to be listed as Site 14B in the Airport Directory Company's 1939 Airport Directory (according to David Brooks).



Benson Airport was depicted on the 1941 12M Regional Aeronautical Chart (according to David Brooks).



Benson Airport may have been closed for a few years during WW2 (as was the case with many small civilian airports),

as it was not depicted at all on the September 1942 Douglas Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy)

or the March 1945 1942 Douglas Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).



Benson Airport was evidently reopened at some point between 1945-46.

Wes Stewart recalled of the original Benson Airport,

My late father learned to fly there from Skeet, who was the FBO of the airport.

I have my dad's logbook & his first entry was July 28, 1946.

Skeet also taught 'Ike' Russell, the subject of the book, 'Backcountry Pilot'.

Skeet was a real character.

He had a small 'club' next to the hangar where at times he had a few slot machines.

These of course were illegal, but somehow Skeet knew when it was safe to have them & when it was not.

I remember playing with one at home after my dad brought it back to Tucson to 'hide it out'

because of a tip that there was going to be a raid by the Cochise County Sheriff.

And yes, there really was a 'golf course', which of course was totally dirt, without a blade of grass.”



Benson Airport was once again depicted on the January 1949 Douglas Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy)

and the September 1952 Phoenix Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).



Benson Airport may have closed (once again) at some point between 1952-53,

as it was no longer depicted on the September 1953 Phoenix Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy)

or the March 1958 Phoenix Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).



The 1958 USGS topo map depicted the Benson Airport as having a single east/west runway,

with one small building on the southwest side of the field.



Benson Airport evidently reopened (again) at some point between 1958-61,

as the March 1961 Douglas Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Benson as having a 5,000' unpaved runway.



The 1962 AOPA Airport Directory described Benson Airport as having 3 dirt & silt runways,

with the longest being the 5,000' Runway 9/27 & the 5,000' Runway 4/22.

The field was described as offering major repairs, fuel, and hangars,

and the operator was listed as Neil Taylor.



The 1964 Jeppesen Airway Manual (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Benson as having 3 dirt runways,

with the longest being the 4,800' Runway 8/26,

and a single building on the northwest corner of the field.

Curiously, the triangle within the 3 runways was labeled as a “golf course”.



The 1983 USGS topo map depicted 3 runways at Benson, but labeled the field merely as “Landing Field”.

It also depicted a single small building at the northwest corner of the field.



In the 1992 USGS aerial photo, Benson's east/west runway still remained quite well cleared,

but there was no other obvious sign of use of the airfield – there were no aircraft evident on the field.

A single building was depicted at the northwest corner of the field.



In 1999 the larger Benson Municipal Airport (with a paved runway)

was opened 3 miles northwest of the town of Benson.

The status of the original Benson Airport may have been changed to a private field at that point.



The 2005 sectional chart depicted the original Benson Airport as a private field,

with a 4,800' unpaved runway.



In 2005 the original Benson Airport was still listed with the FAA as an active private airfield,

owned by Ben Taylor.

The field was described as having a single 4,800' dirt Runway 8/26,

but it was listed with the notes, “Use at pilots own risk - prior contact recommended. Gopher holes, slick & muddy when wet.”

The field was also described as being home to 8 single-engine aircraft,

and was said to conduct an average of 58 takeoffs or landings per month.



However, AirNikon visited the site of the original Benson Airport in 2005,

and found it to be very much abandoned, with no sign of any aircraft at the field,

or any other indication of recent airfield usage.



A 2005 photo by AirNikon of a knocked-down sign reading “Benson Airport for sale.”



A 2005 photo by AirNikon of an abandoned trailer at the site of Benson Airport.



A 2005 photo by AirNikon of what appears to have been a wind direction indicator at the site of Benson Airport.



A circa 2006 aerial view looking northeast at the remains of the 2 runways at the site of Benson Airport.



The original Benson Airport is located southeast of the intersection of Interstate 10 & East Benson Airport Road,

appropriately enough.

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Fort Grant Airport / Angel Field, Fort Grant, AZ

32.61 North / 109.95 West (Northeast of Tucson, AZ)

 

The Fort Grant Airport, as depicted on the January 1964 Phoenix Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



The date of construction of this small general aviation airport has not been determined.

Angel Field was apparently built at some point between 1958-62,

as it was not depicted on the March 1958 Phoenix Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).

The earliest reference to Angel Field which has been located

was in the 1962 AOPA Airport Directory.

It described Angel Field as having 3 dirt runways,

with the longest being the 2,500' Runway 1/19.



It was depicted as "Fort Grant" Airport on the January 1964 Phoenix Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy),

and described as having a 2,500' unpaved runway.



Fort Grant Airport was not yet depicted on the 1964 USGS topo map.



Angel Airport, as depicted on the August 1971 USAF Tactical Pilotage Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



The earliest photo that has been located of Angel Field was a 10/30/71 USGS aerial photo.

It depicted the field as having 3 runways.



Angel Field, as depicted in the 1972 Flight Guide (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



Angel Field was depicted as having 3 unpaved runways on the 1975 USGS topo map.



The last reference to Angel Field as an active airfield which has been located

was in the 1976 AOPA Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy).



The 1994 USGS topo map still depicted the 3 runways,

but it was labeled merely "Landing Strip",

which most likely indicates that it was closed as an airport by that point.

The reason for closure has not been determined.



As seen in the 1992 USGS aerial photo,

Runway 18/36 had apparently been lengthened to 4,000' at some point after 1972.

It also appears as if Route 266 (which leads to the town of Fort Grant)

had been relocated at some point in the past,

from the west side of the airfield to immediately adjacent to the east side of the runways.

This may have been a contributory factor in the airport's closure.



A circa 2001-2005 USGS aerial photo shows the former Angel Field remains in basically the same condition.



Angel Field is located west of Route 266, a half-mile south of the town of Fort Grant.

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Cochise Intermediate Field, Cochise, AZ

32.03 North / 109.91 West (East of Tucson, AZ)

Cochise Intermediate Field, as depicted on the September 1941 Phoenix Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



Cochise was one of the network of emergency landing fields

built by the Bureau of Air Commerce in the 1930s & 1940s.



The Cochise airfield was evidently established at some point between 1938-40,

as it was not listed among active airfields in The Airport Directory Company's 1938 Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy).



The earliest depiction of the Cochise airfield which has been located was on a 1940 aerial photo.

It depicted the airfield as consisting of an irregularly-shaped unpaved area,

in the same shape as that eventually depicted on the 1943 topo map.

Two small buildings were visible at the northeast corner of the field.



The earliest aeronautical chart depiction of the Cochise airfield which has been located

was on the September 1941 Phoenix Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).

It depicted Cochise as Site T-3.



The Airport Directory Company's 1941 Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy)

described Cochise as having 2 runways, measuring 3,620' north/south & 2,610' east/west.



Cochise was reportedly operated by the Army Air Force during WW2.



The 1943 USGS topo map (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted the Cochise “Landing Field” as having an irregularly-shaped outline,

with an airway beacon & 2 small buildings at the northeast corner of the field,

and a radio range beacon to the east.



The earliest photo which is available of the Cochise Intermediate Field

was a 6/16/43 aerial view looking west from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).

It depicted the field as consisting of an irregularly-shaped unpaved area.



Cochise was described by the 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)

as having a 4,600' runway,

and it was described as Site T-3 along the Phoenix – El Paso Airway.

The directory did not give any indication of military use of the airfield, however.

 

It was depicted as "Cochise T-3" on the 1945 Douglas Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss).



The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described the “Cochise Intermediate Field”

as a 154 acre T-shaped property having 2 sand & loam runways, measuring 4,160' east/west & 3,620' north/south.

Cochise was not said to have any hangars, to be owned by private interests, and operated by the Civil Aeronautics Administration.



The Cochise airfield was still depicted on the 1949 Phoenix Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).

 

However, the Cochise airfield was apparently abandoned at some point between 1949-52,

as it was not depicted at all on the September 1952 Phoenix Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).



The 1958 USGS topo map no longer depicted anything at the site of the Cochise Intermediate Field,

but it did still depict the “Radio Range Station” to the east.



No trace of the airfield was still recognizable on the 1992 USGS aerial photo.



Cochise was not depicted at all (even as an abandoned airfield) on 1998 aeronautical charts.



No trace of the airfield was still recognizable on a 6/12/11 aerial photo.



See also: http://www.airforcebase.net/aaf/if_list.html

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Douglas Auxiliary Army Airfield #2 / Forrest Field, West of Douglas, AZ

31.37 North / 109.67 West (SE of Tucson, AZ)

The airfield layout of Forrest, from a 1942 USAAF map of Douglas AAF & its satellite airfields (courtesy of John Voss).



This airfield was built during WW2 as one of 3 satellite fields for Douglas AAF,

which offered specialized night training in B-25 & B-26 bombers.

The other 2 satellite fields were

McNeal Aux #1 (east of McNeal, AZ), which is still used as a civil field as Tribal Air Airport,

and Webb Aux #3 (Elfrida, AZ).

 

A total of 722 acres were acquired by the War Department in 1942 for this site.

Improvements included three 6,000' runways, taxiways,

a stage house, crash station, barracks, latrine, and night lighting system.



The earliest photo which has been located of the Forrest Auxiliary Field

was a 6/16/43 aerial view looking north from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).

It depicted “Douglas AAF Auxiliary #2 (Forrest Field)” as having 3 paved runways.



"Forrest Aux #2, Army" was described by the 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)

as having a 6,000' hard-surface runway.

 

"Forest #2" was still depicted as an active military airfield

on the 1945 Douglas Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described “Douglas AAF Auxiliary #2 (Forrest Field)”

as a 709 acre irregularly-shaped property having 3 asphalt 6,000' runways.

Forrest was not said to have any hangars, to be owned by the U.S. Government, and operated by the Army Air Forces.



The Forrest Auxiliary Air Field site was declared surplus & transferred to the War Assets Administration in 1947 for disposal.

The majority of the property was sold back to private owners.

A portion was transferred to the Arizona State Board of Directors,

and was used as part of the present-day Cochise College Airport, adjacent to Forrest Airport to the west

(strange that they would build a brand-new airport right beside an already-built airport with multiple paved runways?)



The Forrest was not depicted at all on the 1949 Douglas Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).



The 1957 USGS topo map depicted "Forrest Airport" as having 3 paved runways.



Forrest was depicted as "Abandoned airport" on the 1966 Douglas Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).

 

 A 1982 USGS aerial photo of the "Forrest Airport (Abandoned)".

 

As of the 1996 USGS aerial photo,

the airfield layout is still completely recognizable,

but the majority of the site has deteriorated and is overgrown with range vegetation.



A circa 2001-2005 USGS aerial photo showed the airfield remained in basically the same condition.



Forrest Airfield is located northwest of the intersection of Route 80 & North Brooks Road,

only 2 miles north of the Mexican border.

 

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Douglas Auxiliary Army Airfield #3 / Webb Field, Elfrida, AZ

31.77 North / 109.7 West (SE of Tucson, AZ)

The airfield layout of Webb, from a 1942 USAAF map of Douglas AAF & its satellite airfields (courtesy of John Voss).

Photo of the airfield while operational has not been located.



This field was built as a WW2-era satellite airfield for Douglas AAF,

which offered specialized night training in B-25 & B-26 bombers.

 The other 2 satellite fields were

McNeal Aux #1 (east of McNeal, AZ), which is still used as a civil field as Tribal Air Airport,

and Forrest Aux #2 (Forrest, AZ).



As depicted on a 1942 AAF map, the airfield at Web Aux #3 consisted of 3 runways,

two asphalt & one oiled (the longest being 6,000') and a taxiway.



By 1945, the Webb airfield had apparently been abandoned by the military,

as it was not depicted at all on the 1945 Douglas Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

 

By 1949, it had apparently been reused as a civil airfield,

as it was labeled "Webb" on the 1949 Douglas Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy),

and described as having a 5,500' hard-surface runway.

 

The Aerodromes table on the 1956 Douglas Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss)

described Webb as having a single 5,000' bituminous runway.

 

Webb Airport was still depicted as an active civil airfield

on the October 1961 USAF Operational Navigational Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



Strangely, none of the Webb runways were depicted on the 1963 USGS topo map.



Webb Airport was apparently closed again at some point between 1961-65,

as it was labeled "Abandoned" on the December 1965 USAF Operational Navigational Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

 

Only a single east/west runway was depicted on the 1986 & 1990 USGS topo maps,

labeled simply "Landing Strip".

 

The 1996 USGS aerial photo showed the east/west runway to remain in better shape than the other 2 runways, which were noticeably more deteriorated.

There was no sign of any buildings.



The Webb airfield was not depicted at all (even as an abandoned airfield) on 2002 aeronautical charts.



A circa 2001-2005 USGS aerial photo showed the airfield remained in basically the same condition.



Webb Aux #3 is located northwest of the intersection of Route 191 & West Courtland Road.

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Douglas Auxiliary Army Airfield #5 / Hereford Field (01E), Hereford, AZ

31.42 North / 110.12 West (SE of Tucson, AZ)

A September 1942 plan of the “Ground Air Command Support Base, Hereford” (courtesy of Ron Plante).

Photo of the airfield while operational has not been located.

 

This field was used during WW as a satellite airfield for Douglas AAF,

which offered specialized night training in B-25 & B-26 bombers.

 

A total of 2,598 acres were acquired by the War Department in 1942.

Improvements included 3 bituminous runways, 3 bituminous taxiways,

a concrete parking apron, 38 buildings, and 18 miscellaneous structures.

Due to its mission of training bomber crews,

the longest runway at Hereford was 9,200’ long,

which was significantly larger than the typical runway of a WW2 era training field.



The earliest depiction which has been located of the Hereford airfield

was a September 1942 plan of the “Ground Air Command Support Base, Hereford” (courtesy of Ron Plante).

It depicted the field as having 3 paved runways.



Hereford AAF was described by the 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)

as having a 7,000' hard-surface runway.



The only aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of Hereford AAF

was on the 1945 Douglas Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



A 1945 plan of the “Douglas Army Air Field, Auxiliary Field #5, Hereford” (courtesy of Ron Plante).



Hereford AAF was declared surplus in 1945,

and custody was assumed by the War Assets Administration, which sold the property.



Hereford AAF was not depicted at all on the 1946 USGS topo map.



Hereford Aux AAF was still listed in a directory of AZ Airports

in the 5/47 issue of Arizona Highways (courtesy of George Miller),

which described the longest runway as 6,500',

but added the note, "Caution, some runways not usable."

 

Hereford was apparently abandoned by 1949,

as it was not depicted at all on the 1949 Douglas Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).



The 1955 USGS topo map depicted 3 paved runways, labeled “Airfield (abandoned)”.



The earliest photo which has been located of Hereford AAF was a 12/12/56 USGS aerial view.

It depicted the field as having 3 paved runways & the ramp area to the east of runways.

There were no hangars visible, but possibly one building remained standing to the southeast of the ramp.



It was labeled "Abandoned airport" on the 1966 Douglas Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).



No airfield at Hereford was listed in the 1980 Flight Guide (according to Jonathan Westerling).



The Hereford airfield was apparently reused for some period of time as a civil airport,

as the 1983 USGS topo map labeled the site as "Hereford Airport",

but only depicted the north/south runway.

The other 2 runways were not depicted at all. 



Unfortunately this rejuvenation of the field was evidently short lived

as Hereford was not listed in the 1987 Flight Guide (according to Jonathan Westerling).



According to an Army Corps of Engineers report,

one of the runways at Hereford was used by small private aircraft until about 1990.

 

In the 1992 USGS aerial photo,

the remains of 3 runways & the ramp area to the east of runways was still barely perceptible.



As of the late 1990s, the entire Hereford site was privately owned.

The site has been used for a ranching operation that included removal

of almost all military improvements & planting of grasses.

The only evidence of DoD improvements remaining was the deteriorating concrete parking apron,

deteriorating bituminous runways & taxiway, and a pile of concrete tower bases.

 

As of 1998, the Hereford field was apparently abandoned again,

as it was depicted as an abandoned airfield on 1998 aeronautical charts.



A 2005 composite photo by Jonathan Westerling “of the remains of the concrete apron at Hereford taken from the northeast corner.

The building visible on the far corner of the apron is a single-family house which uses the apron as its driveway.”



Jonathan Westerling visited the site of Hereford Aux AAF #5 in 2005, and reported:

The land occupied by Hereford Auxiliary Army Airfield #5

has now become part of the suburbs of fast-growing Sierra Vista.

Plots have been subdivided, and several houses ranging from simple to elaborate

have been built on the site with many more to come.

Not that there was much left of the 1940’s field,

but its reuse as a civil airstrip (attempted in the mid 1980’s) would today be impossible.

The north/south runway has been graded & reused as 'Airstrip Road'.

One lucky family gets to use the old 500’ x 500’ concrete apron as their driveway!

It does not appear that the 1980’s redevelopment (as an airport) resulted in any improvements to the site

aside from a single prefab hangar & equipment shed which were erected on the apron.

From what one can tell, the landing facilities were limited to a 50' wide swath

of the overgrown bituminous runway & taxiways which were plowed to remove the weeds.”



A 2005 photo by Jonathan Westerling of a street sign for “Airstrip Road”.

According to Jonathan, “The south end of the primary runway at Hereford Auxiliary Army Airfield #5

has been broken up & graded as 'Airstrip Road'.

Several houses such as the one in the background have been built along the old runway.”



A 2005 photo by Jonathan Westerling, “Looking south along the primary runway at Hereford.

This section of runway has not yet been broken up to become roadway

and is likely representative of the conditions elsewhere at the field before the developers arrived.”



A 2005 photo by Jonathan Westerling of “the only remaining painted aviation marking at Hereford” -

a segmented circle “located in the middle of the north side of the apron”.



A 2005 photo by Jonathan Westerling. “This hangar & equipment shed are located at the northeast corner of the apron

and probably were part of the field’s redevelopment as an airport in the 1980s.”



A circa 2006 aerial photo shows the former runways at Hereford are now sprinkled with houses.

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