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Biggs Army Airfield
Biggsaaf-28jan1996.jpg
USGS aerial image as of 28 January 1997
IATA: BIFICAO: KBIFFAA: BIF
Summary
Airport type Military
Owner U.S. Army ATCA-ASO
Location Fort Bliss / El Paso, Texas
Built 1942
In use 1942 - 1968
Elevation AMSL 3,946 ft / 1,203 m
Coordinates 31°50′58″N 106°22′48″W / 31.84944°N 106.38°W / 31.84944; -106.38
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
3/21 13,554 4,131 PEM
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[1]

Biggs Army Airfield or Biggs AAF (IATA: BIFICAO: KBIFFAA LID: BIF) is a military airport located at Fort Bliss in El Paso, El Paso County, United States. The airfield was previously Biggs Air Force Base, a Strategic Air Command installation, between 1947 and 1966. The U.S. Army began operations supporting Ft. Bliss and its mission in 1973.

Contents

Biggs Field

The original Ft. Bliss airfield was located a mile to the southwest and was created in 1916 for the 1st Aero Squadron. On January 25, 1925, the field was named for Lt. James Berthes "Buster" Biggs, an Air Service officer from El Paso killed in World War I. In 1920 Camp Owen Bierne opened on the site of the current airbase as a base for airship operations but the units were soon disbanded and on July 1, 1926, Biggs Field was moved to the former Camp Bierne location and the older field closed.

Biggs Field served primarily as a refueling site until World War II, when it became a primary heavy bomber Operational Training Unit location for the U.S. Army Air Forces. The field itself was moved north and east of the old balloon hangar to its present location. Huge hangars and longer concrete runways were built to accommodate Army Air Corps bombers and other aircraft.

During the war, the following fighter and bombardment groups trained at Biggs Field:

  • 20th Fighter
  • 94th Bombardment (Heavy)
  • 303rd Bombardment (Heavy)
  • 330th Bombardment (Very Heavy)
  • 351st Bombardment (Heavy)
  • 380th Bombardment (Heavy)
  • 389th Bombardment (Heavy)
  • 392nd Bombardment (Heavy)

Biggs Air Force Base

After World War II the OTU was inactivated and the base housed fighter operations for two years. On February 1, 1948 the base was re-dedicated as Biggs Air Force Base, serving as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) installation for B-29, B-50, B-36, B-47, B-57 and B-52 bombers and KC-97 and KC-135 air refueling aircraft of the 95th Bombardment Wing from 1952 to 1966 and the 97th Bombardment Wing from 1948 to 1959. The main runway at Biggs ranks as the nation’s third largest runway.

Biggs Army Airfield

In 1966, the USAF closed Biggs AFB in a budgetary move and released the base for Army use. In 1973, Biggs was reactivated as a permanent US Army Airfield, making it the largest active Army Airfield in the world as part of Fort Bliss. Biggs Army Airfield is the site of the annual "Amigo Airsho", held in October. The airfield is usually packed with spectators, as the attractions and army equipment encourage people to attend. A popular performer is the United States Navy Blue Angels, who make special appearances to perform acrobatic maneuvers for the crowd.

The airfield is used by NASA as a layover point for the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft in flights transporting the Space Shuttle from Edwards Air Force Base in California to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.[2]

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Operational characteristics

  • Runway. 13,554 feet (4,131 m) long, 300 feet (91 m) wide, asphalt concrete (PEM or Porous European Mix) surface, capable of handling B-52, C-5, traffic. 1,000 feet (300 m) asphalt overrun on the "21" end of the runway.
  • Taxiways. Approximately 9.7 miles (15.6 km) of taxiways.
  • Parking (Hardstand): West ramp (near DAACG) can park 12 heavy aircraft, the hot cargo ramp can park 3 heavy aircraft, the heavy load can park 6 heavy aircraft, and the Main ramp has 18 (20' X 20') concrete pads.
  • Parking (Aprons): 3,600,000 square feet (334,000 m2), asphalt surface with numerous 50' X 120' concrete pads.

See also

References

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for BIF (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2009-07-02.
  2. ^ Malik, Tariq (June 01, 2009). "Shuttle Atlantis Being Flown Back to Florida". Space.com (Fox News). http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,523799,00.html?test=latestnews.  

External links


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