Exploring Abandoned Airports Lost To Time

By Jack Ripley | April 26, 2024

An Airport With a View of the Black Sea: Sukhumi Babushara Airport in Abkhazia

Embark on a journey through the forgotten corridors and runways of abandoned airports, where echoes of the past whisper stories waiting to be discovered. Once bustling hubs of travel and connection, these silent spaces now stand as poignant reminders of a different era. From the haunting remnants of Nicosia International Airport, frozen in time amidst conflict, to the storied grounds of Tempelhof Airport, witness to the resilience of a city, each abandoned airport offers a window into history's mysteries.

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Sukhumi Babushara Airport is located in Abkhazia, which is a disputed territory on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. Originally established during the Soviet era, the airport was an important transportation center for the Abkhazian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. The airport boasted a picturesque coastline of the Black Sea, offering travelers breathtaking views during takeoff and landing.

The last commercial flight from Sukhumi Babushara Airport was in 1993, during the outbreak of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. This conflict, which resulted in Abkhazia's gaining independence from Georgia, led to the airport's abandonment. It closed due to damage sustained during the conflict. Efforts to reopen or renovate the airport have stalled because of ongoing tensions between Abkhazian separatists and the Georgian government as well as limited international recognition of Abkhazia's independence.

The Airport With an Underground Complex: the Željava Airbase in Croatia and Bosnia/Herzegovina

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The Željava Airbase is on the border between Croatia and Bosnia/Herzegovina, and it opened in the 1950s. Originally built by the Yugoslav People's Army, Željava was one of the largest and most secretive military airbases in Europe during the Cold War. The airport also had an underground complex, which consisted of tunnels, hangars, and living quarters hidden beneath the surface of the mountain. This complex was designed to withstand nuclear attacks and housed aircraft, weapons, and supplies in the event of a conflict.

The last flight from Željava Airbase was in 1992, during the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Bosnian War. The airbase was abandoned due to the conflict, which led to the dissolution of the Yugoslav People's Army and the division of military assets among successor states.

Despite its abandonment, the underground complex is largely untouched, attracting curiosity seekers and urban explorers. Efforts to repurpose the site have been limited due to its remote location, however.