Melun Villaroche Aerodrome
- For the unit of air flow measurement, see LFPM
|Melun Villaroche Aerodrome
Aérodrome de Melun Villaroche
Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) A-55
|Operator||SYMPAV (Syndicat Mixte du pôle d'activités de Villaroche)|
|Elevation AMSL||304 ft / 93 m|
Melun Villaroche Aerodrome (French: Aérodrome de Melun Villaroche) (ICAO: LFPM) is an aerodrome located 8.5 km (4.6 NM) north of Melun, a commune in the Seine-et-Marne department in the Île-de-France region in north-central France.
The airport resides at an elevation of 304 feet (93 m) above mean sea level. It has two paved runways: 10/28 measuring 1,975 by 45 metres (6,480 ft × 148 ft) and 01/19 measuring 1,300 by 30 metres (4,265 ft × 98 ft).
It supports general aviation with no commercial airline service scheduled. The airport is equipped for VFR (visual) or IFR (instrument). Its control tower, equipped with radar, also provides air traffic control at low altitude in a large area of north-east to south-west of the Paris region. Both runways are still in use, the north-south 01/19 being reduced in length, and the east-west 10/28 extended for use by jet aircraft. Modern navigational aids are available and the facility is well maintained with a large airpark and a significant number of hangars.
The Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile, the French air accident investigation agency, has facilities at Melun Aerodrome. They include hangars and protected areas with a combined total of 6,000 square metres (65,000 sq ft) of space. A campus of the École nationale de l'aviation civile (French civil aviation university) is also located in the aerodrome.
Villaroche Airport was a civil airport built prior to World War II.
German use during World War II
Seized by the Germans in June 1940 during the Battle of France, Villaroche was used as a Luftwaffe military airfield during the occupation. Known units assigned (all from Luftlotte 3, Fliegerkorps IV):
- Kampfgeschwader 51 (KG 51) 1 August 1940 – 30 March 1941 Junkers Ju 88A (Fuselage Code: 9K+)
- Kampfgeschwader 30 (KG 30) 2 June-4 October 1941 Junkers Ju 88A (Fuselage Code: 4D+)
- Kampfgeschwader 55 (KG 55) 1 October-30 December 1941 Heinkel He 111H (Fuselage Code: G1+)
- Kampfgeschwader 2 (KG 2) 15–22 April 1942 Do 217E, Ju 188 (Fuselage Code: U5+)
- Kampfgeschwader 6 (KG 6) 4 June-10 July 1944 Junkers Ju 88A/E, Junkers Ju 188A (Fuselage Code: 3E+)
The airfield was liberated by Allied ground forces about 1 September 1944 during the Northern France Campaign. Almost immediately, the United States Army Air Forces IX Engineer Command 830th and 833rd Engineer Aviation battalions along with the 878th Airborne Engineer Aviation Battalion cleared the airport of mines and destroyed Luftwaffe aircraft. A significant amount of battle damage was sustained, requiring repairs that included the laying of a new 5000' asphalt secondary runway. On 15 September, after about two weeks of reconstruction, Villaroche Airport became a USAAF Ninth Air Force combat airfield, designated as "A-55".
Under American control, the Ninth Air Force assigned the 416th Bombardment Group to the airport which flew A-26 Invader and A-20 Havoc attack bombers from the airfield until February 1945. The combat unit then moved east along with the Allied lines and the airport became transport airfield and air service depot, hosting C-47 Skytrains of the 436th Troop Carrier Group and the Air Technical Service Command 462d Air Service Group until the summer of 1945, after end of the war.
After the war, much reconstruction was necessary and the entire airport was rebuilt. In the late 1940s, as the civil use of Orly Airport in Paris began to expand after its reconstruction from wartime damage, Melun Villaroche was used by the United States Air Force as a pilot proficiency airfield.
In 1950-1951 when as a result of the Cold War threat of the Soviet Union, Melun Villaroche Airport was proposed by the United States Air Force to become a NATO transport facility. Plans were made to establish a long-term lease of the facility as a United States military airfield. Plans were designed for a large Military Air Transport Service (MATS) air terminal to support personnel and cargo flights into the Paris area. In addition, a major USAF Hospital for the Paris area was also planned and designed.
In the ongoing negotiations, the site was ultimately rejected. The plans for expanding USAF use of the facility were cancelled in favor of the expansion of the MATS facilities at Orly Air Base, and the hospital was constructed at the new USAF Évreux-Fauville Air Base instead. The Americans continued to use Melun Villaroche on a limited basis for pilot proficency flying until Évreux-Fauville AB opened in 1955 and at that point the airport was returned to full French control.
Today the main users of the airfield are the Fixed-Base Operator, (AFIS); the aero-club-Melun Villaroche "Constantine Rozanoff", and collectors of vintage aircraft. Business aircraft, in conjunction with area businesses use the airport daily. SNECMA (SAFRAN) has a large manufacturing plant to the south of the airport along D-57. SNECMA built the plant over part of the abandoned World War II airfield, where abandoned taxiways can still be seen in open areas. This aerodrome is best known for the numerous tests of aircraft prototypes that have occurred until the early 1980s, especially those of several military aircraft such as the Dassault Mystery; Mirage, and VTOL designs. It was also a test center for SNECMA.
Many World War II relics can be found at the airport, abandoned taxiways with aircraft hardstands are evident with deteriorating concrete. A munitions storage area remains to the east of the north-south runways in a wooded area along with what appear to be old concrete hangar foundations, buildings, and other wartime concrete taxiways.
- LFPM – Melun Villaroche. AIP from French Service d'information aéronautique, effective 20 July 2017.
- (in French) Aérodrome de Melun Villaroche (LFPM) at Union des Aéroports Français
- Airport information for LFPM from DAFIF (effective October 2006)
- "Who are we?" Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile. Retrieved on 5 May 2011. "The BEA also has 6000 m² of hangars and protected areas at its disposal at Melun aerodrome."
- The Luftwaffe, 1933-45
- Identification codes of units of the Luftwaffe 1939 - 1945
- USAFHRA Document 00089957
- Johnson, David C. (1988), U.S. Army Air Forces Continental Airfields (ETO), D-Day to V-E Day; Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.
- IX Engineer Command ETO Airfields, Airfield Layout
- Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- McAuliffe, Jerome J. (2005). US Air Force in France 1950-1967. San Diego, California: Milspec Press, Chapter 14, Paris-USAF Operations. ISBN 0-9770371-1-8.
- Current weather for LFPM at NOAA/NWS
- Accident history for LFPM at Aviation Safety Network
- 416th Bombardment Group (L) Melun-Villaroche Aerodrome, France Station A-55 24 September 1944 to 12 February 1945