Comiso Airport
Comiso Airport , also known as Vincenzo Magliocco Airport is located in the Sicilian
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 province of Ragusa
Province of Ragusa
The Province of Ragusa is a province in the autonomous region of Sicily in Italy, located in the south-east of the island. Its capital is the city of Ragusa, which is the most southerly provincial capital in Italy.-Geography:...

, 5 km from Comiso
Comiso is an Italian municipality in the Province of Ragusa in Sicily.-Geography:Comiso consists of three boroughs: Comiso, Pedalino, and Quaglio. It lies some 22 km west of Ragusa in the South of Sicily...

 and 15 km from Ragusa
Province of Ragusa
The Province of Ragusa is a province in the autonomous region of Sicily in Italy, located in the south-east of the island. Its capital is the city of Ragusa, which is the most southerly provincial capital in Italy.-Geography:...

. It changed from military to civil use during 2005-2008. The airport will open to general aviation and cargo in the near future.


The airport was designed in 1934 under the fascist regime
Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism also known as Fascism with a capital "F" refers to the original fascist ideology in Italy. This ideology is associated with the National Fascist Party which under Benito Mussolini ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943, the Republican Fascist Party which ruled the Italian...

 but building works did not start until 1935 and were finished in 1939. It was named after General Vincenzo Magliocco from Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

 who had been killed in the Ethiopian war
Second Italo-Abyssinian War
The Second Italo–Abyssinian War was a colonial war that started in October 1935 and ended in May 1936. The war was fought between the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy and the armed forces of the Ethiopian Empire...

 in 1936.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 it was taken over by the German Luftwaffe in 1943 after its withdrawal from Tunisa. It was severely damaged by the Allied forces
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 on 26 May and 17 June 1943, just before the landing on the nearby Sicilian beaches (Operation Husky
Allied invasion of Sicily
The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major World War II campaign, in which the Allies took Sicily from the Axis . It was a large scale amphibious and airborne operation, followed by six weeks of land combat. It launched the Italian Campaign.Husky began on the night of...


During General George Patton’s landing in Sicily, Ju-87 Stuka dive bombers took off from Comiso to bomb the landing beaches, only to be met by United States Army troops at the airfield when they landed for rearming and fuel.

Rebuilt and enlarged after the war, with a runway that was to be 1740 m (5,708.7 ft) long, the airport was opened to civil aviation. The airport was also a base for the 41st Storm
Aeronautica Militare
The Italian Air Force is the air force of the Italian Republic. It has held a prominent role in modern Italian military history...

 of Catania
Catania is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the homonymous province, and with 298,957 inhabitants it is the second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy.Catania is known to have a seismic history and...

  (Italian Air Force), until 1973. However, the airport was little used.

NATO base

When offered to NATO in 1981 for use as a BGM-109G Ground Launched Cruise Missile base, the buildings on the base were almost all bombed out shells and the runway had trees growing out of it. A few of the old buildings were refurbished and used by the USAF or the Italian Air Force, but most were demolished carefully, because of the large amount of unexploded World War II ordnance, a new base was constructed from the ground up.

Construction of both American and Italian facilities progressed rapidly over the next few months, and by late 1983, the base had a permanent population approaching 2,000 and the initial NATO Ground Launched Cruise Missile force was operational. The first permanently assigned U.S. military personnel arrived in April 1983 in the early stages of the construction of the base. There was a small Italian Air Force contingent there at that time, along with a U.S. Navy construction office.

During the summer of 1983, three large anti-nuclear demonstrations, largely funded by the Communist Party, were conducted around the base perimeter, with as many as 5,000 protesters at the events in late July, August and September. After these three demonstrations, which also involved a large number of Italian police, both local and national, the protesters appeared to lose interest and only a few very small incidents took place over the following years.

From 1983 to 1991 Comiso airport was the largest NATO base in southern Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and housed 112 American cruise missiles
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

. The U.S. Air Force 487th Tactical Missile Wing and Italian Air Force host organization jointly accomplished the NATO GLCM mission at Comiso until the base closed in May 1991, a result of the signing of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Force Treaty signed in 1987.

Today the NATO air base, located on the southeast side of the runway, is totally abandoned and empty. Weeds and unkempt vegetation have been growing for the past 20 years. The buildings are empty, but not vandalized, they are more or less a time capsule, empty and unused. Several hundred military family housing units, built on the north side of the runway, also stand vacant.

New airport

Refurbishment work to reactivate the airport started in 2004 and was completed during the winter of 2008. The new runway is 2460 m (8,070.9 ft) long and 60 m (196.9 ft) wide, (45 m (147.6 ft) with two hard shoulders, each of 7.5 metre) and has three fast exits (B1, B2 and B3); they connect to a taxiway which is 38 m (124.7 ft) wide. An ILS (Instrument Landing System
Instrument Landing System
An instrument landing system is a ground-based instrument approach system that provides precision guidance to an aircraft approaching and landing on a runway, using a combination of radio signals and, in many cases, high-intensity lighting arrays to enable a safe landing during instrument...

) was installed and a new control tower
Control tower
A control tower, or more specifically an Air Traffic Control Tower , is the name of the airport building from which the air traffic control unit controls the movement of aircraft on and around the airport. Control towers are also used to control the traffic for other forms of transportation such...

 19 m (62.3 ft) high, was built. The airport authorities are negotiating with airlines and charter companies to start commercial activities.

See also

  • Catania Fontanarossa Airport Vincenzo Bellini
    Catania-Fontanarossa Airport
    -See also:*Palermo Airport Falcone e Borsellino - also known as Punta Raisi Airport, another of Sicily's international airports* Trapani Birgi Airport Vincenzo Florio - another of Sicily's international airports...

     - Sicily's major international airport.
  • Palermo Airport Falcone e Borsellino - also known as Punta Raisi Airport, another of Sicily's international airports
  • Trapani Birgi Airport Vincenzo Florio - another of Sicily's international airports

External links

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