Saipan International Airport
|Saipan International Airport
Francisco C. Ada Airport
|IATA: SPN – ICAO: PGSN – FAA LID: GSN|
|Owner||Commonwealth Ports Authority|
|Elevation AMSL||215 ft / 66 m|
|Source: Federal Aviation Administration|
Saipan International Airport (IATA: SPN, ICAO: PGSN, FAA LID: GSN), also known as Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport, is a public airport located on Saipan Island in the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The airport is owned by Commonwealth Ports Authority.
Although most U.S. airports use the same three-letter location identifier for the FAA and IATA, Saipan International Airport is assigned GSN by the FAA and SPN by the IATA (which assigned GSN to Mount Gunson, South Australia, Australia).  
SPN was a sugarcane field before the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (IJNAS) constructed a temporary landing field on the site in 1933. The landing field was used for training purposes and had two runways configured in an "L" pattern. In 1937, the Navy began upgrading the airfield for full military use, despite an international law ban on constructing military facilities within the South Pacific Mandate. Following the commencement of hostilities against the United States in 1941, the field was named Aslito Field (アスリート飛行場).
The IJNAS assigned two squadrons of Mitsubishi A6MT Zeros to the airfield in mid-June 1944. These squadrons took part in their defense of the Mariana Islands during the Battle of the Philippine Sea later that month, being almost wiped out by the American forces during the battle.
The airfield was seized by the United States Army 27th Infantry Division on June 18, 1944 during the Battle of Saipan. During the battle, a Zero from Guam actually landed at Aslito Airfield, the pilot being unaware that the field had fallen to the Americans. As it landed it was fired upon and it crashed at the end of the runway. The pilot survived and the plane was captured. The field was renamed Isely Field after United States Navy Commander Robert H. Isely who was killed on June 13, 1944, while strafing the base.
Once in American hands, Isely Field was expanded considerably to support Twentieth Air Force B-29 Superfortress operations. The XXI Bomber Command had been assigned the overall responsibility of the B-29 operations out of the Marianas bases, and Isely Field was to be used by the 73rd Bombardment Wing (which consisted of the 497th, 498th, 499th, and 500th Bombardment Groups).
On 12 October 1944 the first B-29 Joltin Josie The Pacific Pioneer piloted by Brigadier General Haywood S. Hansell commanding General of XXI Bomber Command and copiloted by Major Jack J Catton of the 873d Bombardment Squadron arrived at Isely Field. By November 22, over 100 B-29s were at Isely. The XXI Bomber Command was assigned the task of destroying the aircraft industry of Japan in a series of high-altitude, daylight precision attacks.
After several months of disappointing high level bombing attacks from Isely (and the other Twentieth Air Force airfields on Guam and Tinian), General Curtis LeMay, Commander of Twentieth Air Force issued a new directive that the high-altitude, daylight attacks be phased out and replaced by low-altitude, high-intensity incendiary raids at nighttime, being followed up with high explosive bombs once the targets were set ablaze. These nighttime attacks on Japan proved devastatingly effective, and the Superfortress missions from Isely Field led to massive destruction of industrial targets in Japan, with large industrial areas of Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka being repeatedly attacked by waves of American bombers flying from the Marianas until the war's end. In response to these attacks, most of the Japanese air attacks on the Mariana Islands between November 1944 and January 1945 targeted Isely Field.
With the end of the war the wing's four bomb groups were all returned to the United States, with their B-29s either being flown to Clark Air Base in the Philippines for scrapping, or were flown to storage facilities in Texas or Arizona. The 73d Bomb Wing was reassigned to the United States in December 1945. The airfield was returned to civil control and it reverted to being called Aslito Field.
Saipan International Airport commenced operation on 25 July 1976 taking over from the nearby Kobler Field. Continental Micronesia (originally Air Micronesia) initially had its main hub at Kobler Field and then Saipan Airport. As time passed, the airline's general traffic to and from Saipan had decreased due to the breakup of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; because the territory was subdivided into smaller political units, less people needed to travel to Saipan, the former capital of the trust territory. On July 15, 2008, the airline's Manila-Saipan flight, the final remaining Continental Micronesia directly-operated flight, ended.
Japanese tourists began visiting Saipan in large numbers during the 1970s. The airfield and terminal were significantly upgraded in 1975 to handle widebody aircraft.
In 2005, Japan Airlines suspended its services from Japan to SPN. Routes to Osaka and Nagoya were taken over by Northwest Airlines. The airport was also renamed after former Lt. Gov. Francisco C. Ada that year.
Facilities and aircraft
Airlines and destinations
operated by Vladivostok Air
|Asiana Airlines||Busan, Seoul-Incheon
|China Eastern Airlines||Charter: Beijing-Capital|
|Delta Air Lines||Tokyo-Narita
|Freedom Air||Guam, Rota, Tinian|
|Sichuan Airlines||Charter: Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai-Pudong|
operated by Cape Air
|Yakutia Airlines||Charter: Khabarovsk|
- Dorr, Robert F. B-29 Units of World War II. Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1-84176-285-7
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- Peacock, Lindsay. "Boeing B-29...First of the Superbombers". Part One. Air International, August 1989, Vol 37 No 2. ISSN 0306-5634. pp. 68–76, 87.
- Rust, Kenn C. Twentieth Air Force Story...in World War II. Temple City, California: Historical Aviation Album, 1979. ISBN 0-911852-85-9.
- FAA Airport Master Record for GSN ( PDF), retrieved 2007-03-15
- Great Circle Mapper: SPN - Obyan, Saipan Island, Northern Mariana Islands
- Great Circle Mapper: GSN - Mount Gunson, South Australia, Australia
- Peacock Air International August 1989, p. 87.
- "History". Commonwealth Ports Authority. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- "GAO-10-778T Issues Raised by the Proposed Merger of United and Continental Airlines." Government Accountability Office. Page 4. Retrieved on October 7, 2010.
- Vergara, Jaime R. "Celebrating the de-inauguration of CO 895." (Opinion page) Saipan Tribune. Monday July 21, 2008. Retrieved on October 13, 2010.
- Deposa, Moneth G. Continental shuts down Saipan office." Marianas Variety News & Views. July 17, 2008. Retrieved on February 25, 2009.
- Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno, "1 killed in Saipan plane crash," Pacific Daily News, November 20, 2012, http://www.guampdn.com/article/20121120/NEWS01/211200301/1-killed-Saipan-plane-crash?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFrontpage
- "Этой осенью и зимой у приморцев появится возможность отдохнуть на Северных Марианских островах (Сайпан)". JSC Vladivostok Air. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "Авиакомпания "Якутия" с 31 марта вводит чартер из Хабаровска на Марианские о-ва". Interfax-Russia.ru. 22 January 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saipan International Airport.|
- Commonwealth Ports Authority: Saipan International Airport
- Aviation Photos: Obyan - Saipan International (SPN / GSN / PGSN) from Airliners.net
- (PDF), effective November 14, 2013
- Resources for this airport: