Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:
Maryland: Frederick area
© 2002, © 2012 by Paul Freeman. Revised 12/6/12.
Fort Detrick Army Airfield (revised 12/19/03) - Stevens Airport (revised 10/6/12) - Taneytown Airport (revised 12/6/12)
Taneytown Airport, Taneytown, MD
39.68 North / 77.21 West (Northeast of Frederick, MD)
Taneytown Airport, as depicted on a circa 1942-43 aerial view looking west
from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).
This short-lived general aviation airport was evidently established at some point between 1935-41,
as it was not yet depicted on the August 1935 Washington Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy),
and it was not listed among active airfields in The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airport Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo)
nor listed among active airfields in The Airport Directory Company's 1941 Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy).
The earliest depiction which has been located of Taneytown Airport
was on the November 1941 Washington Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).
Sheldon Shealer reported that he had a picture of his father in front of a Piper J-3 Cub,
“in front of a hangar at Taneytown Airport dated September 1942.”
The earliest photo which has been located of Taneytown Airport
was a circa 1942-43 aerial view looking west from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).
It depicted Taneytown as having a open grass landing area with a hangar on the southwest side.
The 1944 USGS topo map depicted Taneytown Airport as an irregularly-shaped outline with a small building on the southwest side.
The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described Taneytown Airport
as a 110 acre irregularly-shaped property within which were 2 sod runways, measuring 2,000' northeast/southwest & 1,600' northwest/southeast.
The field was said to have 2 hangars: 60' square wood & metal, and 45' x 35' cinder block.
The field was said to be privately owned & operated.
The 1945 Washington Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss)
depicted Taneytown Airport as a commercial/municipal airport.
The last aeronautical chart earliest depiction which has been located of Taneytown Airport
was on the October 1948 Washington Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).
The Taneytown Airport was evidently closed (for reasons unknown) at some point between 1948-50,
as it was labeled as “Closed” in the 1950 MD Airport Directory (courtesy of Steven Mahaley).
The field was depicted as having 2 turf runways:
a 2,300' northeast/southwest strip & a 1,600' northwest/southeast strip.
An office & hangar were depicted on the west side of the field.
Taneytown Airport was no longer depicted at all
on the 1953 USGS topo map nor on the January 1954 Washington Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).
According to a 12/6/12 Carroll County Times article, “Chaz Walls’ father bought the space on Taneytown Pike in 1986, and it was called Martell’s Used Auto Parts.
In July 1995, Walls took over, hence the name change [Chaz's Used Auto Parts & Towing] of the business.”
A circa 2008 aerial view looking southwest at the site of Taneytown Airport
shows that the 60+ year old arch-roof hangar remains standing.
The majority of the property has been reused as an auto junkyard.
A 12/5/12 photo of the fire that destroyed the former Taneytown Airport hangar, caused by an accident at Chaz's Used Auto Parts & Towing which occupied the building.
Owner Chaz Walls said, “It’s really a shame to lose that building because it was a really a big icon.
It has a lot of good history behind it. My whole family’s upset about it.”
The site of Taneytown Airport is located northwest of the intersection of Taneytown Pike & Frenchmans Drive.
Stevens Airport, Hansonville, MD
39.51 North / 77.41 West (North of Frederick, MD)
A 5/13/41 photo of a Waco with a 165 Continental engine at Stevens Airport (courtesy of Howard Stevens).
According to Howard Stevens, Stevens Airport was started & operated by his father, Howard L. Stevens.
Stevens had previously (circa 1938) operated a flight school at Rutherford Field in Baltimore.
According to the fantastic book "Maryland Aloft" by Preston, Lanman, and Breilhan,
Howard Stevens acquired the farm property in 1942 & built the airfield the same year.
"He operated the Stevens Flying Service,
offering charter service, aircraft sales, fuel, repairs, and a lunch room."
Stevens Airport was not yet depicted on the November 1942 Regional Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
A circa 1942-43 aerial view looking southwest at Stevens Airport from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock)
depicted the field as an open grass landing area.
A 1943 photo from the Library of Congress of 2 unidentified aircraft at Stevens Airport.
The monoplane in the foreground is the plane in which flight student Walter Spangenberg
had made his first solo flight at Stevens Airport.
A 1943 photo from the Library of Congress of 2 aircraft (note the Civil Air Patrol insignia on the wingtip at the right)
inside the hangar at Stevens Airport.
Outside the hangar is Walter Spangenberg, two was taking flying lessons at Stevens Airport.
A 1943 photo by Esther Bubley (Office of War Information) of Greaseball, a mascot at Stevens Airport, with a Piper Cub in the background.
Stevens Airport was in fact Frederick County's only airport from the period of 1943-49
(after Detrick Field was closed in 1943 until Frederick Municipal Airport was opened in 1949).
A 1943 aerial view of Stevens Airport (courtesy of Howard Stevens)
depicted the field as having 2 grass runways
and a single hangar on the northeast corner of the field (with "Stevens" painted on the roof).
A close-up of Stevens airport's hangar from the above 1943 aerial view (courtesy of Howard Stevens).
A total of at least 7 aircraft (including one biplane) were depicted parked around the hangar.
The earliest chart depiction of Stevens Airport which has been located
was on the May 1943 Washington Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
It depicted Stevens as a commercial/municipal airport.
The earliest topo map depiction of Stevens Airport which has been located was on the 1943 USGS topo map.
It depicted “Stevens Landing Field” as a rectangular property outline with a few buildings on the north side.
The 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)
described Stevens Airport as having a 2,800' unpaved runway,
and indicated that Navy flight operations were conducted from the field.
The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described Stevens Airport
as a 140 acre irregularly-shaped property within which were 2 sod runways, measuring 2,800' northeast/southwest & 2,400' NNW/SSE.
The field was said to have a single 80' square concrete block hangar,
and to be privately owned & operated.
Stevens Airport, as depicted on the 1947 Washington Sectional Chart.
A 9/9/48 photo of a silver & red Stearman (used for stunts, with a Lycoming 300 engine)
in front of the north side of Stevens Airport's hangar (courtesy of Howard Stevens).
Stevens Airport was still depicted as a commercial airport on the July 1949 Washington Sectional Chart.
However, the field was apparently closed (for reasons unknown) at some point later in 1949,
as it was not depicted on a later 1949 Washington Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).
Strangely, Stevens Airport was still depicted in the 1950 MD Airport Directory (courtesy of Steven Mahaley), but was labeled "closed".
The field was depicted as having 2 turf runways: a 2,800' northeast/southwest strip & a 2,350' northwest/southeast strip.
An office & two other buildings sat on the north side of the field, along the west side of Route 15.
Curiously, a large swimming pool was depicted directly under the southwest end of the primary runway.
Stevens Airport was no longer depicted at all on the 1951 Washington Sectional Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe)
or the 1953 USGS topo map.
According to the book "Maryland Aloft",
historic sites surveyor Janet Davis reported that the office building attached to the east side of the hangar
was most likely added in the 1960s.
Brian Fisher recalled, “Stevens Airport... my father worked here for a good portion of his career
when it was Sire Power now known as Select Sires.
After the sale of the airport it was converted into cow barns for use by a company called Sire Power
which is an artificial insemination facility based out of Tunkanock PA.
That is what it remained up until about 1990 when the property was sold to the Lynfields who turned it in to what it is now.
The shorter office portions of the main hangar where added on as offices
and the small portion that has 2 large doors on it was added on as a sawdust storage area.
When my father worked there, the inside of the hangar was largely unchanged
as the original roof & floor where still there with the addition of individual cow pens & slide open doors to allow outside grazing.
The large swimming pool that is depicted in the map is actually not a swimming pool
but is a very large pond that I used to fish in quite a bit as a kid.
I know this because I remember stories that I was told of how someone drowned in it
many years ago from swimming after working at the airport.
The person cramped up & drowned as a result.
You can still see the pond in one of the overhead maps. It is shrinking & is quite overgrown.”
By 1992, Janet Davis reported that the former hangar had been adapted for use as a cow barn.
A circa 2000 aerial photo of the site of Stevens Airport.
The former hangar at the top-center,
and the 2 former grass runways were still clear & undeveloped.
According to John Clifford, a bar called "Mel's Airport Inn" operated for some period of time
in a building along the west side of Route 15,
along the eastern side of the former airport property.
He said that "There is a large what looks like a barn/hangar with a tower attached behind the restaurant."
Just to the northwest of the hangar is a new-construction building, the Lynfield Event Complex,
which hosts weddings, meetings, etc.
A 2003 aerial view by Paul Freeman, looking west at the site of Stevens Airport.
A 2003 close-up by Paul Freeman of the former hangar (center of photo) of Stevens Airport.
A 2003 photo by Paul Freeman of the back of the former hangar of Stevens Airport.
A 2003 photo by Paul Freeman of the front of the former hangar of Stevens Airport.
Paul Freeman flew over the site of Stevens Airport
and visited the site at ground-level in 2003.
Although the former runways are no longer recognizable as a airport from the air,
a closer inspection does reveal the former hangar,
which has an arched roofline quite indicative of a hangar.
An employee of the Lynfield Event Complex confirmed that the site was an airport "in the 1940s",
and added that the hangar was later reused to hold cattle.
It is presently being used to store supplies for the event complex,
and the hangar appears to be well maintained.
Even though the site is no longer an airport,
it is nice to see that the business using the property
has found a use for the hangar which will justify its continued upkeep.
The 3-story masonry "control tower" on the corner of the former hangar
is somewhat more elaborate than what would be expected for a fairly small civil airport of the 1940s.
Patrick Benda reported in 2004 that "someone is building a church right on the field where the runways were.
I guess a church might be better than a Wal-Mart.
I was nursing a dream of buying the property one day & bringing the old airfield to life.
Sad to say it became another victim of the sprawling of the City of Frederick; it breaks my heart.
The hangar is still there & well maintained (I love to visit it as the architecture is quite beautiful)."
Paul Freeman drove by the site of Stevens Airport in 2005,
to find that the former hangar still existed, maintained in very good condition.
A large new building (part of the Lynfield Event Complex, and used by a church)
has been built to the south of the hangar, over the northeast end of the former northeast/southwest runway.
A circa 2007 aerial view looking north at the former Stevens Airport hangar.
Brian Tetter reported in 2009 that “Frederick Christain Fellowship Church purchased the property from the Lynfield Event Complex earlier this year.
We are using the 2 new buildings on the property as our church.
We would very much like to renovate the hangar at some time; it is not in the best shape anymore.”
The site of Stevens Airport is located on the west side of Route 15,
south of Mountaindale Road, five miles north of Frederick.
Fort Detrick Army Airfield, Frederick, MD
39.43 North / 77.43 West (Northwest of Frederick Municipal Airport, MD)
An aerial view of the original grass runway of the Fort Detrick airfield, date unknown.
According to the book "Maryland Aloft",
"On July 29, 1929, Frederick municipal authorities purchased 92 acres at this site,
then on the northwestern edge of their city.
Three days later, they leased it to the federal government to become an Intermediate Landing Field,
one of several such facilities that the Department of Commerce
was establishing along the Washington-Cleveland Airway.
Officially, these fields were for use in case of emergencies between airports,
rather than for regular operations.
Communities were eager to see them built, however,
seeing the program as a chance to create an airport."
Among the first landings at Intermediate Field 5A was made by a biplane dubbed the 'Queen of Frederick County',
and the facility continued to be used by local aviators.
The airfield had 2 sod runways, configured as a 'L'.
The northeast/southwest runway was 2,650', while the northwest/southeast strip measured 1,900'."
In 1931, Maryland Adjutant General Reckord obtained permission to have the 104th Aero Squadron
of the 29th Division (Maryland National Guard) hold its 2-week encampments at the Frederick airport.
The airport had 3 stone block buildings, which served as the tower, a snack bar & latrine.
The grass runway was situated almost west to east with a dogleg north.
West 4th Street (now Rosemont Avenue) marked the western boundary.
West 7th Street was the eastern boundary, where a tree-lined entrance greeted the National Guardsmen.
The 104th came equipped with its American-made DeHaviland O-38 Observation biplanes, JN-4 "Jennies".
The squadron surgeon, then Capt. Frederick Louis Detrick,
a distinguished teaching surgeon at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, suffered 3 heart attacks & died in 1931.
So great was the respect & admiration for Dr. Detrick that the unit unanimously voted
to name the air field "Detrick Field" during that 1931 encampment.
The ramp & buildings at the Fort Detrick airfield, date unknown.
JN-4 Jenny biplanes at the Fort Detrick airfield, date unknown.
The earliest aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of Intermediate Field 5A
was on the May 1932 J-18 Washington D. C. Airway Map (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
The 1932 Frederick Yearbook highlighted the first encampment:
"Plane from Frederick airport is ‘shot down' in mimic battle over Hagerstown."
An airshow would be staged for the city at the conclusion of each encampment.
Many residents have recounted how they flew for the first time in one of the 104th Aero Squadron's observation aircraft.
The squadron supported infantry maneuvers from Pennsylvania to Virginia,
and took photographs, which later became the basis for maps, and other land-use documents.
The Fort Detrick airfield was labeled "Frederick" on the 1935 Washington Sectional Chart.
Three bombers are known to have landed at Detrick Field.
A Ford Tri-Motor was on display & gave rides in the late 1930s.
An eight-engine Barling Bomber was photographed on the grass tarmac in 1933.
On May 25, 1939, a B-17 bomber being shuttled from the West Coast was forced down due to engine trouble.
It stopped nose up in the ditch adjacent to the trolley tracks on West 4th Street.
Pulled from the ditch & refueled, it took off without incident the next morning.
A week earlier on May 19, the first Air Mail was received & dispatched
from Detrick Field in conjunction with National Air Mail Week.
The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo)
listed the Frederick Airport as the "Department of Commerce Intermediate Site 5A" airport, along the Washington-Cleveland Airway.
It was described as having 2 sod runways, with the longest being a 2,650' northeast/southwest strip.
In 1938, Detrick Field was removed from the list of emergency air fields,
but in 1939 the Federal Government renewed its lease.
With WW2 looming, Detrick Field became home for a Cadet Pilot Training Program.
It built a large hangar (Building S-201)
and a series of wooden, pre-fabricated cantonment structures for barracks & administrative buildings.
Among those buildings still standing are the former Noncommissioned Officers Club (Building T-115),
the former infant care center (Building T-116), Strough Auditorium (T-611), Post Exchange complex (T-713),
Post Library & other support offices including Inspector General & Equal Employment Opportunity offices (T-501),
Community Activities Center (Building S-718),
and Building 719, which now houses Company B, 4th Light Armored Infantry Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
Construction also included the concrete tarmac.
Now called Hamilton Street, it runs parallel to Military Road across from Buildings S-10, 11 & 12, the control tower complex.
Steel bars embedded in the concrete tarmac allowed the pilots to secure their aircraft with ropes each night.
Hamilton Street still runs directly to the old hangar, where it is covered in asphalt, but most of it remains as it was.
It is used primarily for parking.
Quartermaster Corps soldiers from Fort Ritchie, some 26 miles north near Sabillasville, MD,
were assigned to Detrick Field & kept the facilities operating in the years immediately preceding the onset of WW2.
It was depicted as "Frederick" Airport on the 1940 Washington Sectional Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe),
and as "Detrick" on the 1942 Washington Sectional Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe).
The last airplanes departed Detrick Field in January 1942 after the Pearl Harbor attack.
All aircraft & pilots in the 104th & Cadet Pilot Training Program were reassigned after the Declaration of War
to conduct anti-submarine patrols off the Atlantic Coast.
But that wasn't the end of Detrick Field's aviation history.
Irving Shuffler, a resident of Chambersburg, PA wrote a letter to the editor of the Frederick News-Post in 1981
and asked why no one ever talked about the 2nd Bombardment Wing being at Detrick Field.
He provided extensive information that was verified by the Office of the Chief of Military History.
The 2nd Bombardment Squadron, U.S. Army Air Corps, was reestablished in February 1942 & its colors brought to Detrick Field,
which had been virtually abandoned save for the skeleton crew from the Quartermaster Corps.
Between February & September 1942, a cadre of soldiers with the squadron completely organized the reconstituted unit,
ordering all supplies, equipment & personnel.
It had no organic aircraft assigned to Detrick Field.
It was later equipped with B-17 Bombers, which were flown to several air bases in the British Isles by women.
"Detrick" Airfield, as depicted on the November 1942 Regional Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
According to the book "Maryland Aloft",
"In 1943, the federal government acquired Detrick Field for $50,000,
and the city began plans to establish an airport at a different location
[the present-day Frederick municipal airport, which opened in 1949].
Adding additional property, the Army converted the former airfield into a Chemical Warfare Service base
that was designated Camp (later Fort) Detrick."
By 1944, the airfield at Detrick was no longer listed among active airfields
in the 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer),
and it was not depicted at all on the 1944 USGS topo map,
the May 1944 Regional Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy), or later Sectional Charts.
The only remnants of Detrick Field's role in aviation are the Blockhouse Tower,
the hangar now used by the Directorate of Engineering & Housing, Hamilton Street,
and the wooden buildings, the latter destined to be razed in the near future.
The grass runway is only visible on Blue & Gray Field.
The parade field was dedicated in 1985 to the memory of the 29th (Blue & Gray) Division soldiers from Frederick
who died during & immediately after the Normandy Invasion on D-Day.
As seen in the 1988 USGS aerial photo,
the site of Fort Detrick no longer has any recognizable traces as a former airfield.
Today, Fort Detrick is designated as an emergency landing site for the Presidential helicopter
should an on-board health emergency be experienced en route to nearby Camp David.
During the 1992 Armed Forces Day Open House, a 1940s-vintage North American T-6 Texan trainer
became the first fixed-wing aircraft to land at Fort Detrick since WW2.
It flew in over the helipad & quickly touched down in the grass behind the supply warehouse.
There was just enough room for the landing & subsequent takeoff.
Fort Detrick's web site.
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