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Al Ain old airport

Old 27th Mar 2009, 07:32
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Al Ain old airport

Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates has become well known in the last few years as the venue for an international air show and air races. These take place at the "new" Al Ain Airport (AAN), but before it was built there existed an "old" Al Ain airport, just south of the town.

I explored what was left of it a couple of years ago. You could still make out the runway markers (white stones) and the lead-in arrow at one threshold (also white stones, and still visible in Google Earth). There were a few derelict buildings too.

Last year building work was encroaching on the site, and in the last few weeks the buildings have gone, and even the runway markers and the arrow.

I wonder if any of you who might have flown around there in the 1960s-1970s (or later) ever landed there. I recall that brakedwell once told me that he did not remember it, although he flew Twin Pioneers in the area. I once saw a photo of a Twin Pioneer on a medevac flight, probably at this old airport.

As this is yet another airfield under a housing estate, now is the time to try to remember.

Any takers?

Laurence

Last edited by l.garey; 27th Mar 2009 at 07:57.
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Old 27th Mar 2009, 07:45
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Further to my post above, here is a photo I took a couple of years ago of the "arrow". It is at 24 11'25.18 N, 55 49'16.73 E, at the SE end of the runway, of which the markers can be seen in Google Earth.

Maybe someone remembers it!



Laurence
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Old 27th Mar 2009, 09:37
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Me again. Looking through old posts, I see one from mhod in 2007, about operating the Argosy out there:

Sometimes we carried more than one ALM for para dropping or or a MAMs team when no movers were at a destination such as Buraimi Oasis (exciting when carrying 45 gallon drums of Avpin!).

Are you still around? Was this the Buraimi strip or the one I am talking about in Al Ain (they were not far away from each other). Which was the one that was called Daudi at one stage? JW411 referred to Daudi in a post in 2007 also. Are you there JW?
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Old 28th Mar 2009, 07:31
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Looks like I am the only one on this thread! A bit more gen:

I just looked at Google Earth again. There is an airfield sign "Buraimi" at 24 15'03 N, 55 47'17 E, under a cloud, but I see what could be a runway at 24 14'33 N, 55 47'06 E, oriented just about 12/30. I think brakedwell, or someone on a previous thread, said Buraimi was 12/30.
Brakedwell also said that the Buraimi airfield he used was about 500 yds outside the fort, which figures with the GE image. So I wonder if that is indeed the Buraimi of Twin Pioneer and Argosy etc days.
The "old" Al Ain airfield was further south (see the arrow at 24 11'25.18 N, 55 49'16.73 E, at the SE end of the runway, which was more like 15/33 -ish).

Laurence
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Old 28th Mar 2009, 13:51
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you are not alone

there is what looks like a VOR at 24.11.29.81N 55.52.58.12E.

Also, unless it has already been mentioned a "facility" at 24.11.03.05N 55.52.38.29E.

Very close to or over the border.?

I dont get to gfly to Al Ain very often, so no pics of the area, in its current guise, sorry.


glf
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Old 28th Mar 2009, 13:57
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Thanks Gulf: it was getting lonely!
I shall look at the 2 spots you mention.
I shall be over there in April so I shall check it out. I have been in touch "privately" with brakedwell, and he is sure that the runway I spotted in Buraimi is the one he used in 1960, just to the east of the fort.
Of course, the whole area is very different today.

Laurence
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Old 28th Mar 2009, 14:05
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Gulf: I checked the 2 sites you suggested on GE.
They are in the UAE, not far from the Oman border.
I know that road quite well and I do not think there is either a VOR or any other facility of aeronautical interest there. In fact, there is a chicken farm and a golf course ("sand course")!
Thanks for the input though

Laurence
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Old 28th Mar 2009, 16:36
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The original Al Ayn airfield was pretty much South-East of the Muraba'a fort, which was the Police station. I have a feeling it's been preserved. It was a mile or two into the scrub, and was used by GF DC3 and Heron scheduled services, at least it was when I lived in downtown Al Ayn in 1965-68, as well as the Twin Pins and then Andovers from RAF Sharjah in support of the TOS Squadron in Jahili fort..

There was also a strip for Buraimi, used by SOAF and Police Air Wing.

There were no navaids there; but there was a very nice windsock, provided by BP.

Edit...I've just been on Google Earth; maybe my estimate of "a mile or two" is slighlty under the truth.. There wasn't much built to the East of the Muraba'a, until the Hilton in 1973 or so (?) and it was only a short Landrover drive to the strip from the town. The orientation was more or less N-S, as I recall, and it was long enough for a DC3 on a hot day (+45C ++). The Andovers struggled at A Ayn though, but then they would do that at the N Pole. Beavers leapt into the air, of course, no matter what, as did the Twin Pins. A Prentice had to swerve to avoid the bushes at the far end on take-off, but that's the Prentice all over.

Last edited by Capot; 28th Mar 2009 at 17:15.
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Old 28th Mar 2009, 17:51
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Well, I've been looking at Google Earth until my eyes hurt and I have to say that it all looks a bit different nowadays.

I am pretty sure that the old strip marked with the arrow at 24 11'25.18N 55 49' 16.73E is what we knew as Buraimi/Daudi in my Argosy days. I remember it as being on darker sand orientated 30/12 and it had soft patches in places.

As best as I can recall, the old TOS fort was to the north of the strip about a mile away.
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Old 29th Mar 2009, 06:29
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Capot: Thanks for the information. Indeed what I call "Al Ain old airport" is just south of the Hilton, and seems to correspond to what you described. Buraimi airfield is north of it, 500m east of Buraimi fort. That is the one that brakedwell remembers using with his Twin Pins. He says there was no runway marked as such in 1960, but a choice of landing directions according to the wind, and where the Landrover with the beer was standing!
The runway at Al Ain was about 1800m before they dug it up in the last few weeks.

JW411: You are right. It is very different now, and it changes every day. I thought Daudi was what we now refer to as Buraimi, but I may be wrong. I hope to check it when I am there in April.

Thanks both

Laurence
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Old 29th Mar 2009, 06:50
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VR looking thingi

I do not think there is either a VOR or any other facility of aeronautical interest there. In fact, there is a chicken farm and a golf course ("sand course")!

When you are next passing the VOR thingi location, please check it out. I could be a storage tank. Just along that service road, is what looks like an apron, perhaps parade ground, but with intersting markings.


I might try to get down for a day or two, but my car is not suitable for off road, better on the track.

glf
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Old 29th Mar 2009, 06:54
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OK Gulfstream, I shall do that. I shall be in the Intercon, just nearby, from 18 April to 15 May. Let me know if you may stop by. PM me if you want.

Laurence
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Old 29th Mar 2009, 11:13
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l.garey:

I have sent you a PM requesting your email address so that I can send you a photograph.
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Old 29th Mar 2009, 11:51
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I have flown over Al Ain old airport, back in the late 70's and 80's, but never landed, as I am sure the aircrafts insurance wouldnt have covered it, as it was classed a 'military' landing strip.

One place I have landed at is 'Jebel Ali North', which was a satellite emergency field for RAF Sharjah. In 1977 it was still clearly visible from the air. Subsequently the Dubai Model Club, and occasionally microlights flew on the site. I have landed a Cessna 150 on the model club runway!
I am certain that nothing is visible now, all gone, like all the nice things in Dubai, the site was about 1km inland from the Abu Dhabi highway, near what was Mina Seyaha.
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Old 29th Mar 2009, 11:56
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Thanks Tony. It all adds to the growing picture of air activity in the "early" days of the Trucial States. Any pictures?

Laurence
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Old 29th Mar 2009, 14:46
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I just found a scan of a 1975 Ordnance Survey map of Al Ain/Buraimi. It clears up the problem. Indeed, Dau'di is my "old Al Ain" airfield, and the one to the east of Buraimi fort is Hamasa (with two runways marked).
Thanks to a friend in Al Ain for the map.



Laurence
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Old 30th Mar 2009, 09:21
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I've not got any pictures of Jebel Ali North from the air, only numerous pictures of the activities of the Dubai Model Club, which dont give any indication of the previous use of the area.

The whole area is salty sand, the runways had been oiled and rolled smooth. They were configured in a large cross.

The runways could accomodate types like the Hawker Hunter.

Close by near Jebel Ali, there was a disused British shooting/bombing range that was used by aircraft from Sharjah.
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Old 30th Mar 2009, 09:27
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I've not got any pictures of Jebel Ali North from the air, only numerous pictures of the activities of the Dubai Model Club, which dont give any indication of the previous use of the area.

The whole area is salty sand, the runways had been oiled and rolled smooth. They were configured in a large cross.

The runways could accomodate types like the Hawker Hunter.

Close by near Jebel Ali, there was a disused British shooting/bombing range that was used by aircraft from Sharjah.
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Old 30th Mar 2009, 10:13
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L Garey

On a small point of order; An RAF Twin Pioneer based in Sharjah would have needed the Sultan's permission to land at Bureimi airstrip, as opposed to Al Ayn, in the mid-late 1960's at least. There was some tension in that period, due to the upheavals of the time in Oman as well as in Abu Dhabi.

One of my roles was to act as a go-between, which was a great pleasure as the Wali (Sultan's representative) in Bureimi was a charming, cultivated and very clever man, who delighted in conversing about world affairs, history and Omani culture, all of which he was an expert in.
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Old 1st Apr 2009, 15:28
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I flew 152 Sqn Twin Pioneers and Pembrokes into Buraimi airstrip many times over a two year period from 1959 to 1961. At that time Buraimi Fort belonged to the Trucial Oman Scouts and the strip was most definitely inside Trucial Oman States territory. Landing permission would not have been required until 1972.
History
In September 1952 Turki bin Abdulla bin Utaishan took over the village of Hamasa with 40 armed Saudi Wahhabis after an overland drive from Al-Hasa, thus violating Abu Dhabi territory. He claimed the Buraimi Oasis for Saudi Arabia, and the ‘Buraimi Dispute’ made world wide headlines. A joint expedition of Trucial Oman Scouts from Abu Dhabi and the Sultan’s forces from Sohar began to advance on Buraimi but the Saudis withdrew due to international pressure to avert a war, after being blockaded for several months. As a result of arbitration a Saudi police post was permitted to be established in the Oasis in 1954, much to the disappointment of the local inhabitants. In 1955 arbitration broke down. Britain changed its position and encouraged the forces of Abu Dhabi and Oman to expel the Saudi police, which was effected without major incident.

In 1972, after the establishment of the new State of the UAE, the international border was delineated through the Buraimi Oasis, separating Al Ain (UAE) from Buraimi (Oman).
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