Monday, May 6, 2019
Palmyra (Cooper) Airport-- Part 1: Paved With Coral
Is an unattended airport on Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. It was originally built during World War II and is now owned by The Nature Conservancy. It has one 5,000 foot long runway. The name Cooper comes from Henry Ernest Cooper Sr. who owned Palmyra from 1911 to 1921.
When built, the airfield was called Palmyra Atoll Airfield and later Palmyra Naval Air Station as it was a naval airfield in the Line islands of the Central Pacific area.
The Navy made preliminary surveys of the site in 1938 and construction began in 1939. The runway was made from crushed coral. During the war, the U.S. Naval Construction Battalion dredged a channel so that ships could enter the protected lagoons. They bulldozed coral rubble into a long, unpaved landing strip for refueling transpacific supply planes.