Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:
Switzerland, region Southeast
This collection of airfields is ©
2010-2012 by RonaldV
Lodrino Added 16 Jan 2012 - San Vittore Added 17 Jan 2012 - Ascona Added 21 Jul 2012
runway: 16/34 - 881x40m/2890x130ft - asphalt
highway/runway: 17/34 - 1800x..m - asphalt
(estimated length, exercise/wartime use only)
Lodrino airfield (German: Flugplatz Lodrino, italian: Aeroporto di Lodrino, ICAO: LSML) is a small airfield 140 kilometer southeast of Berne.
The airfield was built in the 1920s.
In July 1930 it was the starting place for Italian anti-fascist Giovanni Bassanesi, who flew to Italy to drop 150,000 anti-fascit leaflets.
He was arrested when he broke a leg during an emergency landing in the St. Gothard pass and expelled from Switzerland.
No photos of the airfield while in use with the Swiss Air Force have been located
The airfield became a millitary airfield in 1940 and received the necessary installations to make it function from 1941 onwards.
A 800x40m paved runway was built in 1943.
By 1944 the airfield had grown to 238,000m. sq and featured 4 type U-43 shelters and an aircraft repair shop.
1949 brought the airfield an additional hangar.
In 1973 the airfield received a helicopter landing spot.
A dedicated helicopter hangar was added in 1977.
During the 1980s Lodrino became an important logistics base.
It began supporting components of the F-5 Tiger in 1980.
In 1988 it became the testing airfield for the Pilatus PC-9.
A year later the engine overhaul center for the Hawk Mk66s Adour engine was opened at the airfield, along with the center for the engines of the Super Puma.
In November 1991 Lodrino used the A-2 highway next to the airfield as a reserve runway for the first time.
Hawker Hunters and F-5 Tigers landed and took off from the improvised airstrip for several hours..
Two minute video of Strada 91, when the Swiss Air Force used the A-2 highway next to the airbase as a runway for its fighters (YouTube)
Although it is still formally a millitary airfield, it only serves as an alternate landing ground for training flights.
RUAG Aerospace still holds facilities at the airfield, but does not fly from it.
Only model aircraft enthousiasts and a single helicopter operator make regular use of the runway.
Additionally it was used for two airshows between 2000 and 2009.
The tower was emptied by the Luftwaffe in 2010.
2002 Aerodrome Chart (experimental.ch)
Lodrino in 2010 (avianna.ch).
Lodrino and the Highway/runway in 2003. The parking area served as a dispersal (Google Earth)
Runway: 08/26 - 800x25meters - asphalt (?)
San Vittore airfield name was an airfield 150 kilometers southeast of Berne.
Construction of the airfield began in January 1941.
Set up as a satellite for Locarno and a training airfield, it was completed at the end of October 1941.
4 shelters for light aircraft and a repair shop were built in 1942.
The airfield served throughout the war, but at some point it was closed and put on a caretaker status.
It was reactivated in 1978, when the grass runway, taxiway and parkings were covered with metal plates.
Until 1995 two U-43 shelters remained in use at the airfield for Alouette-II and -II helicopters.
A civilian helicopter base was built on the southwest point of the airfield.
In 2005 the base was still being used for training with PC7 aircraft and Alouette III helicopters.
No photos of the airfield while in use by the Swiss Air Force have been located
Sometime after 2005 the airfield was struck off by the Swiss Luftwaffe.
It was used as an airfield until at least 2007.
While it continues to be used by helicopters, gliders and model aircraft, plans are discussed to change the airfield into a industrial estate.
Overview of the airfield in 2003 (Google Earth)
This Boeing Stearman was photographed at the airfield on 21 April 2007 (Flickr).
San Vittore visible just above the wingtip of a glider on 31 March 2009 (Roland Henz, via Flickr).
runway: 17/35 - 0000x00m - asphalt
Ascona airfield (It: Aerodroma di Ascona, ICAO: LSZD) was a small airfield in the city of Ascona, 135kilometers southeast of Berne.
The airfield opened in 1947 when Lello (Emanuele) Bianda converted his home and chicken shed into a hotel, and the back yard into a grass airfield.
With all private flying being banned in Germany by the Allied powers, flying in Switzerland became quite popular with Germans.
One of the most popular destinations was Ascona, with the combination of hotel restaurant and airfield proving an irresistable combination.
Amongst the pilots were the director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan, and legendary German actor Heinz Rühmann.
Bianda and his airfield attracted attention nationwide and multi-page articles appeared in nationally published magazines.
He even managed to draw attention from the German edition of Playboy Magazine.
They published an article about the airfield, the air taxi service, the restaurant, the rumours about smuggling and the Lello-bar
The guest book of the establishment lists illustrious names like Lyss Assia, Paulette Goddard and Nadja Tiller.
The establishment became a hotspot for the European jet-set.
The airfield with its original grass runway, ca. 1950. The photo gives a good impression of how far away it was from town when it was opened (ticinarte.ch (PDF)).
Ascona airfield, ca. 1950 (on Flickr).
Aerodromo Ascona, probably 1954. Visible (2nd from left, in shorts) is instructor Edmond Dougoud, who died in a plane crash
later in 1954, leaving a wife and 3 y/o daughter (ticinarte.ch (PDF)).
For years Lello wanted to build a hardened runway, but in spite of running a succesful business he was lacking funds to do so.
That changed when Hamburger businessman Richard Gruner bought a villa nearby.
For his private aircraft he wanted a 'proper' runway, and so the runway became hardened.
The 'German era' ended when the Allies lifted the restrictions on private flying in Germany in 1955.
The airfield continued to exist, even though the town of Ascona kept creeping closer, until finally it was completely surrounded.
Photo of Ascona airfield, presumably shot in the 1980s, as the A13 highway is not built yet (Panoramio).
On 31 December 1997 the airfield was forced to close due to noise complaints from its neighbours.
Also, the existence of another airfield (Locarno) nearby did not help its chances of survival.
Although the tower was taken down almost immediately after its closure, the remaining airfield is still complete.
Only a small section on the north side of the airfield was cut off during the construction of the A13 motorway around 1991.
Around 2000 plans were published to turn it into a golf course, but even for a nine hole course there is not enough land.
The 'Aerodromo' restaurant still exists and holds a small museum about the airfield.
It contains memorabilia of the airfield, all original.
The restaurant holds good ratings on several pages (in German) on the internet, doing justice to its legacy.
Ascona airfield on a tourist map of the city, presumably ca. 1990 (epfl.ch).
Photo of the RWY 35 threshold, taken in 2008 (Panoramio).
Overview of Ascona airfield in 2008 (Google Earth)
Short (1 min) German spoken video shot on the threshold of runway 35 of the old Ascona airfield in 2012
If you have any information about airfields (listed and unlisted) in Switzerland, email RonaldV.