|IATA: BBJ – ICAO: EDRB|
|Operator||Flugplatz Bitburg GmbH|
|Elevation AMSL||1,223 ft / 373 m|
Bitburg Airport (German: Flugplatz Bitburg) (IATA: BBJ, ICAO: EDRB) is a commercial airport serving Bitburg, a city in the Rhineland-Palatinate state of Germany. It is located 2 miles (3 km) southeast of Bitburg, 32 km (20 mile) north of Trier, and 217 km (135 miles) west of Wiesbaden.
Prior to its current civilian usage, Bitburg Air Base was a front-line NATO base from 1952–1994, until after the Cold War. It was the home of the United States Air Force's 36th Fighter Wing for over 40 years as part of the United States Air Forces in Europe.
Under contract with the United States Air Force, the French Army began construction of what would become the base in Western Germany's Eifel Mountains in early 1951. Located in the French occupation zone, construction began on farm land that had been a Wehrmacht tank staging and supply area for the Battle of the Bulge in early 1944. The air base and its housing area occupied nearly 1,100 acres (445 ha), with a 8,200-foot (2,500 m) long runway (with 1,000-foot (300 m) overruns at each end, total length would be 10,200 ft).
In July 1952, the 53rd Fighter-Bomber Squadron from the 36th Fighter-Bomber Wing, from Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base a few miles west of Munich, arrived at the newly built base. Throughout the summer, elements of the 36th FBW moved into Bitburg, with the wing officially arriving in November 1952.
With the end of the Cold War Bitburg was no longer needed as a military base, and it was turned over to the German government on 1 October 1994. Between June and September 1997 it was necessary to repair the Spangdahlem Air Base runway, called for a temporary location to accommodate the 52d Fighter Wing's three squadrons of F-15s and F-16s. Bitburg Airport was the most logical place—only 10 miles (16 km) down the road. The USAF departed for the second time in September 1997, and Bitburg Airport was returned to the civil aircraft which now call it home.
On September 15, 2008, the Ministry of Transport of Rhineland-Palatinate granted the airport contractor landing rights for aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of more than 14 tonnes, and the use of IFR traffic rules upon arrival and departure. The airport contracting company is currently evaluating plans to develop the airport into a regional freight airport.
Airlines and destinations
There are no scheduled services to and from Bitburg Airport.
- Donald, David (2004) Century Jets: USAF Frontline Fighters of the Cold War. AIRtime ISBN 1-880588-68-4
- Fletcher, Harry R. (1989) Air Force Bases Volume II, Active Air Force Bases outside the United States of America on 17 September 1982. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-53-6
- Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History. ISBN 0-88740-513-4.
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- Menard, David W. (1998). Before Centuries: USAFE Fighters, 1948-1959. Schiffer Military Books ISBN 1-57427-079-6
- Mueller, Robert (1989). Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-53-6
- Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
- Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
- USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present
- Mindling, George and Bolton, Robert (2008). US Air Force Tactical Missiles 1949-1969 The Pioneers. Lulu Press ISBN 978-0-557-00029-6.
- Official website
- Bitburg Air Base Closure
- Bitburg Barons Alumni Association
- Reunion Website for the 36th TFW and Bitburg Air Base
- Bitburg AB Photo Website
- F-100s of 36th TFW (via F-100.org
- Tactical Missile Units at Bitburg
- Bitburg F-4s
- TAC Missileers - Matador and Mace Missileers
- Accident history for BBJ at Aviation Safety Network