Meiringen Air Base

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Meiringen air base
5949 - Meiringen viewed from the Rothorn - Meiringen Air Force Base.jpg
Meiringen air base viewed from the Rothorn
Summary
Airport type Military
Serves Meiringen
Occupants Swiss Air Force
Coordinates 46°44′25″N 8°6′36″E / 46.74028°N 8.11000°E / 46.74028; 8.11000Coordinates: 46°44′25″N 8°6′36″E / 46.74028°N 8.11000°E / 46.74028; 8.11000
Map
LSMM is located in Switzerland
LSMM
LSMM
Location in Switzerland

Meiringen air base, also known as the Unterbach military airfield, is a Swiss military airbase located near the hamlet of Unterbach and the town of Meiringen, in the canton of Bern. It is one of three main airbases of the Swiss Air Force.

The airfield is situated in the steep-sided alpine valley of the Aar river, with its single runway parallel to the river. It is flanked to the north by the main road to Meiringen, the river, and the Brünig railway line. To the south, taxiways connect the airfield to aircraft caverns built within the valley side.[1]

History[edit]

The Meiringen Air Base started operations on 1 December 1941.[2] The base played an important role in the 1946 C-53 Skytrooper crash on the Gauli Glacier: the rescue operation was launched and coordinated by the Meiringen air base.[3] The rescue of persons on a glacier with airplanes had never been done before. After World War 2, an aircraft cavern was built in Meiringen. In the 1970 years the construction of another cavern tunnel was started for the A-7G Corsair II, but because the A-7G was not bought, this construction was completed as an ammunition storage cavern.[4] With the introduction of the F/A-18 the aircraft cavern was rebuilt again and received another tunnel so the aircraft can go straight in and out at the same time. In the inside maneuvering without crane is now possible.[5]

In 2004, militia Squadron 8 "Destructors", equipped with the F-5E Tiger, moved to Meiringen from Buochs Airport. In 2007, professional Squadron 11 "Tiger", equipped with the F/A-18, moved from Dübendorf Air Base.[6][7]

Today[edit]

The airfield of Meiringen is still important for the Air Force. With the pending closure of Sion Air Base after 2016, it will be one of only three fighter jet bases, along with Payerne Air Base and Emmen Air Base.[citation needed] It is the home base to two fighter squadrons, militia Squadron 8 "Destructors", equipped with the Northrop F-5E Tiger, and professional Squadron 11 "Tiger", equipped with the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet.[8][9]

Meiringen is the only Swiss airbase that uses an aircraft cavern in daily operations. The runway is equipped with retractable arresting gear devices (used by the F/A-18 and in emergencies by the F-5) at both ends.[10]

The operation of the aerodrome has for the region and the town of Meiringen, both positive and negative effects: noise emissions by the military jets is for the affected population as well as for tourism businesses. The airfield is, however, with some 190 labor and 25 training places an important economic factor for the region.[11][12] The airfield has a small museum that is open on Wednesday afternoons from May to October; different pieces of equipment are exhibited as well as an Aérospatiale Alouette III and an F-5 Tiger.[13]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

External image
graph of the cavern layout
graph of the cavern layout
  • [1] Official page Militärflugplatz Meiringen
  • [2] Private page Interessensgemeinschaft Flugplatz Meiringen (German)
  • [3] YouTube Informationsclip about Meiringen Air Base (English).
  • [4] YouTube Informationsclip about Meiringen AFB and Axalp shooting (German)