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Old airfield at Masafi, UAE?

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Old airfield at Masafi, UAE?

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Old 10th Feb 2011, 16:20
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Old airfield at Masafi, UAE?

I just returned from a brief visit to the United Arab Emirates. While there I was taken by a friend to a possible airfield site he had discovered. I wonder if any of out forumites might have known it in the 1950s or 1960s. Brakedwell? JW411?
The strip is just outside the village of Masafi and the north and south ends of the "runway" are at: N25 21 06.5, E56 10 52.9 and N25 20 38.8, E56 10 36.9 (visible on Google Earth). The surface is hard and stony, and seems to have been bulldozed so that there are obvious longitudinal piles of larger stones all along it. It is about 1000m long and 15m wide. I cannot see what else it could be but a runway. Could it have been built by the Trucial Scouts? If so, why? There is no junk lying around, and there are no buildings.
I have photos if they can be of use or interest.
Any takers? Thanks

Laurence
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Old 10th Feb 2011, 16:49
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Sorry Laurence but no bells are ringing! I've been to Dibba and Al Khatt but not that one.
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Old 10th Feb 2011, 17:46
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I am certain that there was a strip to serve the TOS camp at Masafi in the mid-late '60s, used by the Twin Pioneer flight and possibly the Andovers that replaced them.

I think I flew my Prentice there for a party, but if I did I omitted to log the trip. Memory fades.

Masafi is close enough to Sharjah to allow the Andovers to carry a modest payload, unlike the longer flights (like Mirfa) and 1,000m should have been enough to launch the beast. But I doubt that it would have been graded to 1,000m just for Twin Pins. Would Pembrokes (before my time) have used it? If so, did they need a longer strip?

What I can't remember is the exact location of the strip relative to the camp or to the village, but I'll see if anyone who was actually based there and is still extant can remember, if I can catch any of them while both conscious and sober enough to respond via his carer.
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Old 10th Feb 2011, 19:42
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It certainly existed in 1968. I was flying Wessex out of Sharjah and we went there to train the TOS troops, and it was also used for night training. I'll dig out a couple of pictures I may have, but they won't show much; it was really just a dirt strip. I don't think the shiny Andovers used it at all, but I'm prepared to be corrected.
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Old 10th Feb 2011, 20:04
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The only pictures I have.



http://i494.photobucket.com/albums/r...ssexMasafi.jpg
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Old 10th Feb 2011, 20:42
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The Andovers did use it Herod ... I was Wessexing there a little later than you (70-71) and can recall them (84) dropping off some fuel drums for us (78) on an exercise.

Somewhere in the loft I may even have pictures .... but that's yet another post-retirement project!

And of course it was on the route of the (in)famous Masafi-Bithna resupply run for the TOS .....

...... where the highest obstacle was the Stimm Bar
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Old 11th Feb 2011, 06:57
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Thanks to all who have already responded. So several of you remember the strip at Masafi. Thanks especially to Herod for the pictures. I add one of mine I took last Wednesday (9 February 2011). I think the mountains in the background clinch it.
Anyone care to guess when it was built and when last used? The trees that have grown on the runway are about 15-20 years old I would guess. But you could still get a Twin Pin down easily, and even an Andover.
I shall try to work out where the helicopter pad was in relation to my recent survey.

Laurence


Last edited by l.garey; 11th Feb 2011 at 08:04. Reason: corrected date!
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Old 11th Feb 2011, 07:17
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If I remember correctly a Twin Pin did a nose-over on landing/taxiing there in 67.
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Old 11th Feb 2011, 07:25
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Further to my post above, I think the helicopter pad was here, where our 4x4 is parked. It is just off to the east of the northern end of the runway, in a wide cleared area linked to the threshold by a very rough track, too rough to taxy but good enough for a Landrover.
By the way, at both ends of the runway the bulldozer has just left high piles of surface rock, as if it was not quite finished, and the northern end curves noticeably to the west. I wonder why? Anyone remember that?

Laurence

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Old 11th Feb 2011, 08:18
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I just found some more on Masafi at:
http://www.ncdr.ae/liwa/Liwa-En/Eng-...4-E-online.pdf

(on pages 55-56)

and Flickr: chrisk2009's Photostream

eg photo 25 of a Twin Pin

Laurence

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Old 11th Feb 2011, 09:11
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We used two TOS strips in that area, Manama and Al Khatt, which was a bit further north. Both camps only had tents supplemented by a few barasti huts and there were no signs of habitation nearby, but then there were no roads either. I suspect Masafi didn't exist in 1959/61. Somewhere I still have a photo of my TP parked at Manana. Will try and find it.

old, not bold - Our Twin Pioneers required 400 yard strips. The Pembrokes needed 800 yards with no soft sand because the nosewheels were prone to digging in. I once had to taxi 50 yards rotating eight cabin seat cushions under the nosewheels to stop them sinkng into the flour like sand.

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Old 11th Feb 2011, 09:16
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Thanks Brakedwell. This strip is a good 1000 yards. Have a look at photos 24 and 25 of the link I just gave
Flickr: chrisk2009's Photostream
(also nice photos of Jahili Fort of happy memories)

Laurence
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Old 11th Feb 2011, 09:35
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Buraimi fort looks very smart! According to Google Earth there is quite a large airstrip/airfield at Manama. I don't think it is the one we used, which was aligned more north-south. But then memory can do funny things.

I think this one was taken at Manana, rocky surface.



And this was Al Khatt, which was more sandy.


Last edited by brakedwell; 11th Feb 2011 at 11:18. Reason: Photos added
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Old 11th Feb 2011, 12:42
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As always very nice pictures, Brakedwell. But neither has the mountainous background of either my photos at Masafi, or chrisk2009's, perhaps also there. The surface at Masafi is more like your picture of Manama (as I think it is spelled now), but not at all sandy, like Al Khatt. By the way, from checking on Google Earth, I wonder if Al Khatt is the original site of what is now Ras al Khaima International Airport.

Yes indeed, what you call "Buraimi" fort (really Jahili Fort in Al Ain) has been very well restored recently. But the old tower, where I believe the officers' mess was, is still there, and looking down from it the other day I thought of you and the photos you took from it!

Laurence
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Old 11th Feb 2011, 12:56
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Both of the photos were taken with my back or shoulder to the mountains. I remember the foothills of the Massandem Penninsular were not far away.
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Old 11th Feb 2011, 15:20
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Laurence, the Officers' Mess was indeed the circular fort building featured in so many pictures. The top floor was one bedroom occupied by the resident Squadron commander. The next floor down comprised the anteroom and dining rooms, both quite small, and 2 (I think) other bedrooms. Outside, at that same level, was a walkway around the building and, on the north side , again at that level, there was a small pool for lying in with a beer, or three. The pool was usually a bit tepid and an alternative was one of the several falaj-fed pools aound the oasis of which the best was over in Muweiqi (pronounced Muweiji). They were always cool as the water flowed underground from the mountains to the East.
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Old 11th Feb 2011, 16:39
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Slight thread creep.
The Officers' Mess at Jahili Fort (in Al Ain, formerly known as Buraimi) today.
Changed a bit, hasn't it!

Laurence

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Old 11th Feb 2011, 16:45
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Al Khatt:

Laurence, when I was looking at Google Earth yesterday, I also came to the conclusion that it was probably underneath the new RAK international airport. I only went there twice with the Argosy and I remember it is a good flat strip which was plenty long enough and the only obstructions in the vicinity were camel thorn bushes.

Now I did say that I had been to Dibba and some clever b*gger is going to tell me in a minute that Dibba was too short for an Argosy. They would be quite right and something in the back of my dim and distant memory makes me think that it was a supply drop after flooding.
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Old 11th Feb 2011, 16:57
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Maybe, JW411, but Buraimi/Daudi was probably too short for an Argosy, but you proved them wrong! BTW I was staying at the Al Ain Hilton this week and often thought of you on finals watching them build that hotel perfectly aligned with the runway and going up level by level (in 1970). At least I think I recall it was you who told me that story.

Laurence
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Old 12th Feb 2011, 11:04
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Yes, it was me that told you about the brilliant sighting of the hotel. Daudi was plenty long enough for an Argosy but it did have some soft patches.
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