© 2002, © 2021 by PaulFreeman. Revised 10/5/21.
HarrisonMunicipal Airport / Skyranch Airport (added2/4/20) -McCook AAF (revised10/5/21) -Sioux Army Depot Airfield / Western NebraskaTechnical College Airfield (revised9/3/16)
ThedfordAirport / (Original) Thomas County Airport(added11/23/19) -Trenton Municipal Airport(revised5/5/21)
Harrison MunicipalAirport / Skyranch Airport, Harrison, NE
42.694, -103.875 (Southwest of Rapid City, SD)
Harrison Airport, as depicted on the October 1949 Casper SectionalChart.
This small general aviation airport was evidentlyestablished at some point in 1949,
as it was not yet depicted on the April 1949Casper Sectional Chart.
The earliest depiction which has been located ofHarrison Airport was on the October 1949 Casper Sectional Chart,
which depicted Harrison Airport as having a 2,900'unpaved runway.
The 1950 NE Airport Directory(courtesy of Lee Corbin) depicted Harrison Municipal Airport ashaving 2 bare runways, measuring 2,850' northwest/southeast &2,250' north/south.
A hangar & another smallbuilding were depicted on the south side.
The operator was listed as a BarQ Aircraft, and the manager as R. Quintard.
Harrison Municipal Airport wasevidently renamed Harrison Skyranch at some point between 1950-70,
as that is how it was labeled onthe April 1970 Casper Sectional Chart.
It depicted Harrison Skyranch as having a 2,900' unpaved runway.
The 1978 USGS topo map (courtesyof Lee Corbin) depicted Skyranch Airport as having 2 unpaved runways,with a few small buildings on the south side.
Skyranch Airport evidently wasimproved with a paved runway at some point between 1978-93,
as a 1993 USGS aerial viewlooking northeast (courtesy of Lee Corbin) depicted it as having apaved Runway 12/30,
with a single small Quonset hutbuilding on the south side.
One small single-engine aircraftwas visible parked in between the runway & the building.
A 1999 aerial view still showedSkyranch's runway marked as an active runway.
Skyranch Airport was evidently closed(for reasons unknown) at some point between 1999-2003,
as a 2003 aerial view showed therunway pavement had been removed,
and it was no longer depicted on theJuly 2009 Cheyenne Sectional Chart.
A 2013 aerial view lookingnortheast at the site of Skyranch Airport showed the former pavedrunway alignment was still recognizable,
and the airport Quonset hut /hangar remained on the south side.
Thanks to Lee Corbin for pointing out thisairport.
Thedford Airport /(Original) Thomas County Airport, Thedford, NE
41.98, -100.532 (West of Lincoln, NE)
Thedford Airport, as depicted on the June 1960 Sioux City SectionalChart (courtesy of Lee Corbin).
Thedford Airport was evidently established at somepoint between 1959-60,
as it was not yet depicted on the June 1959 SiouxCity Sectional Chart.
The earliest depiction which has been located ofThedford Airport was on the June 1960 Sioux City Sectional Chart,
which depicted Thedford as having a 2,800' unpavedrunway.
The earliest photo which has been located ofThedford Airport was a 1981 aerial view.
It depicted Thedford Airport as having an asphalteast/west runway,
with an asphalt taxiway leading to an asphalt ramp& 5 small buildings on the northeast side.
A total of 4 light single-engine aircraft werevisible outside.
The 1986 USGS topo map (courtesyof Lee Corbin) depicted Thomas “County Airport” as havinga paved east/west runway,
with a paved taxiway leading to apaved ramp & 4 small buildings on the northeast side.
The earliest photo which isavailable of Thedford Airport was a 1993 USGS aerial view lookingsouthwest.
It depicted Thedford Airport ashaving paved Runway 8/28, with a paved taxiway leading to a pavedramp & 4 small buildings on the northeast side.
There were no aircraft visibleparked outside.
In March 1998 a larger Thomas CountyAirport was opened 2 miles to the southwest, at which point ThedfordAirport was presumably closed.
A 2016 aerial view lookingsouthwest at Thedford Airport showed the runway & buildings toremain intact, though deteriorated.
The site of Thedford Airport is located southeastof the intersection of Route 2 & Route 83.
Thanks to Lee Corbin for pointing out thisairport.
Trenton Municipal Airport(9V2), Trenton, NE
40.19, -101.03 (Northeast of Denver, CO)
Trenton Municipal Airport, as depicted on the May 1947 LincolnSectional Chart.
Yet another one of America's disappearing generalaviation airports.
According to its FAA Airport/Facility Directorydata, Trenton Municipal Airport was activated in April 1946
(along with hundreds of other airports in thepost-WW2 American general aviation boom).
Trenton Municipal Airport was not yet depicted onthe December 1946 Lincoln Sectional Chart.
The earliest depiction which has been located ofTrenton Municipal Airport was on the May 1947 Lincoln SectionalChart,
which depicted Trenton as a commercial/municipalairport.
The May 1951 Lincoln SectionalChart depicted Trenton Municipal Airport as having a 2,700' unpavedrunway.
The 1962 USGS topo map depictedTrenton Airport as having 2 unpaved runways, with a few smallbuildings & a beacon on the east side.
The earliest photo which has beenlocated of Trenton Municipal Airport was a 1993 USGS aerial viewlooking southwest.
It depicted Trenton as having 2unpaved runways, with a few small hangars on the east side.
There were no aircraft visibleparked outside.
An undated aerial view of TrentonMunicipal Airport from the 2009 NE Airport Directory.
It depicted Trenton as having 2turf runways: 2,360' Runway 14/32 & 2.260' Runway 1/19.
A few small hangars were depictedon the east side. The manager was listed as Marvin Harms.
Note the 2 skeet/trap ranges justnorth of the hangars – an odd thing to have on an airportproperty.
According to its FAA Airport/Facility Directorydata, for the year ending in 6/21/12,
Trenton Municipal Airport conducted an average of72 takeoffs or landings per week.
A 2014 aerial view lookingsouthwest showed Trenton Municipal Airport to remain intact, but withtrucks parked in front of the hangars,
surely a sign that its was nolonger being actively being used for aviation.
Note the 2 skeet/trap ranges justnorth of the hangars – an odd thing to have on an airportproperty.
As of 2015, Trenton Municipal Airport's FAAAirport/Facility Directory data said it had a total of 2 basedaircraft, both single-engine.
The owner was listed as the Village of Trenton,and the manager as John Rundel.
Trenton was said to have 2 turf runways: 2,360'Runway 14/32 (“in fair condition”) & and 2,260'Runway 1/19 (“in poor condition”).
The 2015 Cheyenne Sectional Chartdepicted Trenton Municipal Airport as having a 2,300' unpaved runway.
An AssociatedPress Article in the 10/2/15 Lincoln JournalStar(courtesy of Chris Kennedy)
was entitled “Lack of activity cited forclosure of Nebraska airport”.
It read, “So few pilots have been using theTrenton Municipal Airport in southwest Nebraska that it's been closeddown.
The Village Board voted last month to take theairport out of service.
The airport has been costing the village about$2,000/year - a sizable chunk of the village's $60,000 property taxrevenue.
Board chairman John Rundel said it's been severalyears since regular crop-dusters used the airport & more than 10years since an airplane was based in a hangar there.
The Hitchcock County community has about 560residents.”
Trenton Municipal Airport is located northwest ofthe intersection of Route 34 & Route 364.
Thanks to Chris Kennedy for pointing out thisairport.
Sioux Army Depot Airfield/ Western Nebraska Technical College Airfield (7NE8), Brownson, NE
41.23, -103.1 (East of Cheyenne, WY)
The Sioux Army Depot airfield was labeled simply as "LandingStrip" on the 1972 USGS topo map.
Photo of the airfield while open has not been located.
According to the text of a NebraskaState Historical Society historical marker,
the Army's Sioux Ordnance Depot was established on3/23/42.
It was the only Army Ammunition Depot in Nebraskaduring WW2, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
The depot was initially under the command of theArmy Ordnance Department
and later the U.S. Army Material Command.
Sioux Army Depot's mission during its entirehistory was the receipt, storage, and issue
of all types of ammunition from small arms to10,000 pound bombs,
all types of general supplies from smallautomobile parts to jeeps, and various strategic & criticalmaterials.
The vast depot occupied 19,771 acres &included 801 ammunition storage igloos,
22 general supply warehouses, 392 supportbuildings, 225 family living quarters,
51 miles of railroad tracks, and 203 miles ofroads.
Personnel assigned to the Dept ranged up to aheight of 2,161 civilian employees & 57 military personnel.
Although histories of the Depot make no mention ofan airfield, a small airfield was constructed at some point,
adjacent to a complex of warehouses on thesouthwest side of the Depot.
Although the date of construction of the airfieldhas not been established,
many other Army Depots had their own airfields forlogistical support of their operations,
so it is presumed that the airfield wasconstructed for the use of the Depot.
No airfield at the Sioux Army Depot was depictedon 1942-69 Cheyenne Sectional Charts.
According to Richard Osborne's "WW2 Sites inthe US", several ICBM missiles were emplaced on the Depot'sgrounds during the Cold War.
These were evidently Minuteman missiles, under thecontrol of FrancisE. Warren AFB.
In 1965, WesternNebraska Vocational Technical School wasfounded at the Sioux Army Depot.
In October 1966, classes began at the technicalvocational school.
The Sioux Army Depot was completely deactivated on6/30/67.
Robert Kudlauskas recalled, "When I was inthe USAF, working the missile fields in Nebraska,
one of our home sites was right next door to acollege that used to be a military installation.
It was being used as a college & most of thebuildings were still in use.
I also think that one of the buildings was used asa mini museum.
I have seen the farmer that owns the land aroundthe storage bunkers use them as storage, mostly equipment.
The runway extended northward from the maincomplex.
There was also an older jet fighter sitting at thesouth end of the old airstrip like it was on display."
Stephen Osborn recalled, “I lived in thestudent housing across the street from the airstrip from spring tofall of 1970.
I remember watching plane after plane land &take off from that airstrip. They were all private aircraft.
At the beginning of the school year in the fall of1970 the college was having a celebration
and they were giving airplane rides so I talked mymother into letting me go.
When we got over to the building that was stagingthe aviation they were offering airplane rides for a penny a pound.
My sister & I combined only cost about $1.That was the first time ever that I got to fly in a plane.
We took off to the south flew out for a couplemiles, turned around, flew back, and landed.”
In 1971, the Western Nebraska Vocational TechnicalSchool changed its name to Western Nebraska Technical College.
Roy Rempe recalled, “I flew from 7NE8(Vocair Flying Club member) while at WNTC in 1971, and lived 'onbase'.
Snow balls could fly through the 'walls' then.
As for the 'rough RR tracks', a fellow studentroutinely taxied his Stinson up to the classroom when commuting,thought the Navion too,
but I remember more than one 'fly-in' parked nextto the cars across from 'Airframe & Powerplants' (by the staticHelio, thought that was a F-86).
My 1971 Sectional Chart didn't depict the tower orthe active missile silo adjacent to Runway 17/35.
I thought real sure the latter was a tinyrestricted area, but then maybe we just wisely treated it as such!”
A single 4,400' north/south runway was depicted onthe 1972 USGS topo map, labeled simply as "Landing Strip".
No airfield at this location was listed in the1972 Flight Guide (according to Chris Kennedy).
A circa early 1970s aerial viewlooking northwest at the Western Nebraska Technical College Airfield(courtesy of Derrick Hahn).
A DC-3, and helicopter, andseveral other aircraft are visible on the field.
A 4/24/72 USGS aerial view of the3 unpaved runways of the Western Nebraska Technical College Airfield.
Note the static display aircraftat bottom-right.
At some point between 1972-76, the former ArmyDepot airfield was apparently reopened by the Western NebraskaTechnical College.
An undated aerial photo of theWestern Nebraska Technical College Airfield, from a state booklet(courtesy of Derrick Hahn).
It depicted the field as having 3runways, with the 4,400' Runway 17/35 being the longest.
Derrick Hahn recalled, “I attended WNTC from1976-78 in the Aviation Program.
I was also a pilot & used the strip there manytimes.
The school had an arrangement with the Civil AirPatrol to do heavy maintenance & modifications on their aircraft.
We took several surplus Beavers & convertedthem to civilian use.”
Several 1976-78 photos by DerrickHahn of several aircraft at the Western Nebraska Technical CollegeAirfield,
including a DC-3, F-84, and H-19.
The 1979 Flight Guide (accordingto Chris Kennedy) described the"Western Nebraska Technical College" airfield
as having a single 3,700' unpaved Runway 17/35.
The College operated an Aviation MaintenanceProgram, which presumably was a user of the airfield.
Two runways at Western NE Community College were depicted on the 1986USGS topo map, labeled simply as "Landing Strip".
Michael Beckhoff recalled, “My Dad went toA&P school there from January 1986 to April 1987,
and we lived in student housing at the college,which was of course, the old barracks.
My older sister also attended the A&P schoolas well from September 1986 to December 1987.
In June of 1986 I was 12 years old, and I had myfirst airplane ride in a 1960 Cessna 172 that the college flying clubkept at the field.
The flying club also had a Cessna 150.
The college owned many airplanes, some of whichwere used to train student mechanics;
they included an early 310, an O-2A, several DeHaviland Beavers (in pieces) several Beech 18’s (in pieces),several old helicopters,
and a very nice Cessna 206 that the college usedto use for business and to give rides in on open house day.
Most of these aircraft were kept in thenorthern-most warehouse building that was closest to the runway.
I can remember there being a few airplanes inthere that didn’t belong to the college as well:
a Maule M-5, and a super nice 47 Bonanza.
One of my Dad’s classmates had a Cessna 140that the college let him keep there while he was attending.”
Michael continued, “The A&P school wasactually in a building that was at the opposite end of the campus,
airplanes were taxied down the street & acrossthe area leading to the runway.
To the best of my knowledge, the runway was neverpaved.
It was a grass strip back in the day when it wasbeing used all of the time.
The jet fighter that used to sit up near the Northend of the runway next to the warehouse was an F-84.
It now resides as a gate guardian at the airportin Cheyenne, WY, off of Del Range Boulevard near the Air NationalGuard Facility.
The airplane was airlifted out by a Skycrane in1988, I do believe.
The Beavers & the Beech 18’s as well asa lot of parts that were stashed in the warehouse were sold off toDuff Aviation in Denver.
The WNCC Flying Club still had the 150 & the172 last I knew,
however I am not sure what became of the 206.”
A 1993 USGS aerial view looking southeast at the remains of the 2runways at the site of the Western Nebraska Technical CollegeAirfield.
In 1995 the College's Sidney Center vacated itsfacilities at the former Depot,
which were sold in August 1996 to a privateenterprise.
A 2005 photo by Keith Wood of the area of the former Sioux airfield.
Keith reported, “Nothingremains of the runway except a raised area and a bit of the gravelunderbase.
There is no indication of anybuildings near the airstrip, certainly no hangars.
The big buildings seen there arewarehouses & light industry.
You can't tell, but there is arail line between the runway & the rest of the base.
In my experience, this means thatthe planes never left the airstrip (too much chance for damagecrossing rail lines).
The only indication that therewere every any aviation activities was an old sign for the 'AviationShop',
which is on a warehouse a longway from the runway.”
A 2015 aerial view lookingsoutheast showed the a new railroad line having been constructed overthe alignment of the 2 former runways of the Western NebraskaTechnical College Airfield.
The site of the Western Nebraska Technical CollegeAirfield is located northwest of the intersection of IndustrialAvenue & Douglas Street.
McCook Army Airfield /McCook State Airport, McCook, NE
40.31, -100.7 (Southwest of Lincoln, NE)
An “early” (circa1943) aerial view looking east along the McCook flightline (courtesyof Floyd Mellon).
McCook Army Airfield was not yet depicted on theJuly 1942 Lincoln Sectional Chart.
Floyd Mellon recalled, “My father, Major LeoMellon was a member of a group of officers
that flew far & wide in a B-17 to locateproper places for new air bases.
McCook was one that they selected to be built.
Low and behold, he was then made the firstcommanding officer of McCook Army Airbase.”
McCook AAF was activated in 1943 as one of 11 WW2Army Air Force training bases in Nebraska.
The base provided final training of heavy bombercrews for the B-17, B-24 & B-29.
The 2,100 acre base originally included three7,500' concrete runways, five hangars & barracks for 5,000 men.
Some 15,000 servicemen and 500 civilians werestationed at the base.
A circa 1943-44 photo of B-24Liberator bombers on the ramp at McCook (courtesy of Floyd Mellon).
A 1943 Army plan of McCook AAF, courtesy of John Voss.
Floyd Mellon recalled, “My mother & Ilived in McCook with dad, and I, as a 4th grader, had therun of the base:
gun turrets, both Martin upper turrets &Sperry ball turrets, Link Trainers, gymnasium, Officers Club,
bombing practice towers in a big hangar, with thebombsight no less.
I actually got to drop a virtual bomb.”
A circa 1943-44 aerial photolooking northeast at McCook AAF (courtesy of Floyd Mellon).
A circa 1943-44 aerial photolooking northwest at McCook AAF (courtesy of Floyd Mellon).
An undated (circa 1940s?) aerialview looking southeast at McCook, with the ramp on the left
(from the Air Force HistoricalResearch Agency, Maxwell AFB).
An undated (circa 1940s?) aerialview of 4 Link Celestial Navigation Training Towers behind a McCookhangar.
The following USAAF Groups werestationed at McCook:
454th Bombardment Group(Heavy), July-October 1943,
736th, 737th,738th, and 739th Bombardment Squadrons,
486th Bombardment Group(Heavy), September-November 1943,
832nd, 833rd,834th, and 835th Bombardment Squadrons,
465th Bombardment Group(Heavy), October 1943 - February 1944,
780th, 781st,782nd, and 783rd Bombardment Squadrons,
493rd Bombardment Group(Heavy), November 1943 - January 1944,
860th, 861st,862nd, and 863rd Bombardment Squadrons,
9th Bombardment Group (VeryHeavy), May-November 1944,
1st, 5th, 99th,and 430th Bombardment Squadrons,
331st Bombardment Group(Very Heavy), November 1944 - April 1945,
355th, 356th,and 357th Bombardment Squadrons (B-29 Superfortress),
98th BombardmentGroup(Very Heavy), June-November 1945,
343rd, 344th,345th, and 415th Bombardment Squadrons (B-29Superfortress), inactivated 11/18/45,
448th BombardmentGroup(Very Heavy), September-December 1945,
712th, 713th,714th, and 715th Bombardment Squadrons,inactivated 12/4/45.
The earliest aeronautical chart depiction which has been located ofMcCook Army Air Field was on the March 1944 Lincoln Sectional Chart.
The base closed in 1945, and the property wastransferred to the State of Nebraska in 1947,
who operated it as a civil field named McCookState Airfield.
"McCook State" Airport was depicted onthe November 1948 Lincoln Sectional Chart (courtesy ofChris Kennedy)
as having a 7,500' hard surface runway.
McCook State Airport was listed among activeairports in the 1962 AOPA Airport Directory,
with 3 concrete runways: 8/26, 12/30, and 3/21.
The 1950 NE Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy) depictedMcCook as having 3 paved runways, of which 2 were still active
(all of the 7,520' Runway 12/30, but only a 3,000' portion of Runway3/21).
A 1/3/57 USGS aerial view depicted the massive airfield of McCookState Airport, but did not show a single aircraft on the field.
"McCook State" Airport wasdepicted on the October 1968 Lincoln Sectional Chart (courtesyof Chris Kennedy) as having 3 runways,
with the longest being a 7,520'concrete strip,
but the remarks in the Aerodromestable said "Runway 3/21 closed."
The last aeronautical chart depiction which has been located ofMcCook State Airport was on the April 1969 Lincoln Sectional Chart.
It depicted McCook as having 3 paved runways, with the longest being7,500'.
McCook State Airport was subsequently closed in1969,
as it was labeled "Abandoned airport" onthe October 1969 Lincoln Sectional Chart.
The 1981 USGS topo map depicted “McCook State Airport(Abandoned)” as having 3 paved runways, taxiways, ramps, and 5hangars on the southwest side.
In the 1993 USGS aerial photo, the majority of the McCook AAF runwaypavement had been removed,
but the outlines of the east/west & northwest/southeast runwayswere still plainly apparent.
By the time of the 1999 USGS aerial photo, the runways were even lessrecognizable,
with only a narrow strip of pavement remaining along the formeralignment
of the east/west & northeast/southwest runways.
The majority of the ramp area was still paved, and 4 hangars remainedstanding.
Today the land is owned primarily by farmers andthe Nebraska Bureau of Land Management.
A 2004 photo by Robert Pearson of all 5 remaining WW2-era hangars atMcCook.
A 2004 photo by Robert Pearson of the front of the former transientaircraft hangar at McCook.
According to Keith Wood, 3 other hangars of identical design arestill standing (and in better condition) at WendoverUT.
A 2004 photo by Robert Pearson of the rafters inside the formertransient aircraft hangar at McCook.
A 2004 photo by Robert Pearson of the former sub-depot hangar atMcCook.
Robert Pearson visited McCook in 2004.
He reported: "This is the only mid-west B-29base I know of that all 5 hangars have survived.
The runways have not done as well with only a 30'wide strip left for the farmer to access his irrigation equipment.
The back extension from the hangar has 2 restlounges,
the smaller for officers and the larger for theenlisted, I assume.
The barracks for the visitors (enlisted I'm sure)is right behind the hangar.
McCook also has its engine servicing buildingstill standing.
It is just to the left of the sub-depot hangar.
The other 3 hangars are of the typical mid-westB-29 style.
There are 2 warehouses left & several smallbuildings."
A February 2005 photo by Phil Brooks looking south at McCook.
A 7/23/10 photo of a former McCook AAF hangar, reused for farmstorage.
A 2014 aerial view of the remains of the massive McCook AAF airfield.
A still looking west from a 9/26/21 video by Kevin Brown of the rowof former hangars at McCook Field.
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