Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:

Estonia, Maakond (county): Lääne-Viru

This collection of airfields is © 2010-2013 by RonaldV
(Disclaimer).

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Rutja Added 27 Mar 2011 - Tapa Added 27 Mar 2011

Rakvere Updated 10 Jan 2012 - airfield Added dd mmm yyyy

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Rutja (CLOSED)

 

59°32'12"N026°18'42"E

 

runway: 05/23 - 2500x..meters/8202x..feet - concrete (CLOSED)

 

Air field Rutja (Estonian: Rutja lennuväli, also known as Kunda air base, Rakvere/Vainupaa, or in Russian: Рутья, ICAO: n/a) was a military airfield on the northern Estonian coast, 13KM west of Kunda in Estonia

The airfield was built during the Soviet era.

Up to its closure in 1990 it was home to the 66th Soviet Attack Air Regiment, flying up to 45 Su-17 'Fitters'.

Since its closure the airfield lies abandoned.

 

Most of the buildings at the airfield have been stripped bare.

 

Rutja air Base in 2006

 

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Tapa

 

59°14'06"N025°57'06"E

 

Runway: 05/23 - 2500x..meters/8202x..feet - concrete

 

Air field Tapa (Estonian: Tapa lennuväli, Russian: Тапа, ICAO EETA) is an air base in Estonia located 3 km southwest of Tapa.

There has been an airfield on the southern edge of Tapa since 1932.

The Tapa Aerial Union (Estonian: Tapa Õhuasjanduse Ühing) held its first fly in on September 30, 1934.

The Russians began building a military airfield on the site in the fall of 1939.

On August 14, 1941, German troops took Tapa and its airfield.

After the end of World War II and the Soviet recapture of Estonia the base area was enlarged.

The Soviets began extensive construction of a military airfield in the spring of 1952, allowing MiG-17s top operate from the field by the end of the year.

 

At its peak, the base totalled around 9 square kilometers.

Later, Tapa Airfield became home to the Soviet 656IAP (Interceptor Aviation Regiment) which flew 40 MiG-23 'Flogger' aircraft.

In 1987, interceptor aircraft were dispatched from Tapa to intercept Mathias Rust's Cessna 172 in a famous Cold War incident.

In 1993, the Estonian Defence Ministry assumed control of the airfield.

On June 18, 1993 the first civilian plane touched down on the cement runway.

In October 1993, the Estonian Ministry of Environment issued a preliminary report describing the damage as having been done to Estonia's topsoil and underground water supply by the systematic dumping of jet fuel at six Soviet army air bases.

At Tapa air base, site of the worst damage, officials estimated that six square kilometers of land were covered by a layer of fuel and eleven square kilometers of underground water were said to be contaminated.

Effectively the water in the surrounding area was undrinkable.

Estonians refer to the pollution with the phrase "the burning water of Tapa" (Estonian: Tapa põlev vesi) which points to the fact that so much fuel from Soviet MiG-23 fighters has leaked into Tapa's ground water that one could actually light a glass of tap water on fire.

Today the Tapa military base, although still owned by the Estonian Air Force, is home to the North-Eastern Defence District of the Estonian Ground Force, 5 battalions and a training center of the Defence Forces.

It has no flying units assigned and is effectively closed for operations due to lack of traffic.

 

Tapa air base in May 2006 (NASA, via Google Earth)

 

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Rakvere

 

59°22'06"N026°21'29"E

 

runway: 15/33 - 250x25m - unk (estimated - CLOSED)

runway: 09/27 - 750x25m - grass

 

Air field Rakvere (Russian: Раквере, also known as 20 Отдельная Авиационная Эскадрилья, or 20th Independent Aviation Squadron, ICAO: EETE) was a helicopter airfield north of Rakvere, 90 kilometers east of Talinn, Estonia.

The airfield was built in the 1920s.

In 1925 it had a single squadron of DH-9 reconnaissance aircraft.

In 1932 the squadron received four Let S-228E reconnaissance aircraft.

Just before Estonia defacto lost its independence in 1939 the airfield received Hawker Harts.

 

Between 1941 and 1944 the Luftwaffe used the airfield with FW190s of JG54, and Stukas and FW-190Ts of 3.SG1 and 3./SG5 respectively.

In early 1944 the Soviets attacked the airfield several times, amongst others with Lavotchin La-5 light bombers.

The Germans were finally driven out in late 1944.

 

After the war the airfield was assigned to a Soviet airborne corps and it became home to an airborne division.

The division was relocated to Kirov in Azerbaidjan in the 1960s, however.

Together with the airbornes a Naval border guard unit was posted at the airfield.

They flew several helicopter types from the airfield.

It consisted of a short runway, and 14 concrete helicopter landing pads.

When Estonia regained independence the Soviet Navy left the airfield.

Like many of former Soviet military locations its soil is poluted, but not as severe as other airfields.

 

Undated overview of the airfield. Judging from its condition and the lack of helicopters it must have been taken around the time the Soviets left Estonia.

 

Two Kamov 25 "Hormone' helicopters at Rakvere, presumably late 1970s, early 1980s (Wikimapia)

 

The tower at the airfield covered in snow, presumably late 1970s, early 1980s (Fotki.com).

 

A border guard posing in front of a Mi-8 'Hip' helicopter, presumably late 1970s, early 1980s (Fotki.com)

 

The airfield was closed after Estonia became independent.

It was acquired by private pilots however, who intended to reopen the airfield in 2004.

They opened a new grass east-west runway just south of the former helicopter base, just across the road.

The airfield is still recognisable from aerial photography, although it is being used as a storage site.

To the southwest, immediately across the road lie revetments that seem to stem from an anti-air missile battery.

The runway, which was still recognisable in 2006 appeared to have been filled with some kind of debris only a year later.

 

2008 overview of the airstrip with the missile revetments to the southwest (Google Earth)

 

Aerial view of the new airstrip (looking east) with the missile revetments visible center right (pilots.ee)

 

The control tower, photographed in 2011 (Fotki.com).

 

The helicopter pads, photographed in 2011, looking like a dumping ground (Fotki.com)

 

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If you have any information about airfields (listed and unlisted) in Estonia, email RonaldV.

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