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Thread: Giant Ring Mystery! EAA Chapt 32? Smartt Airport Conspiracy? Can Someone Help?

  1. #1
    Barnstorm's Avatar
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    Rolls Eyes Giant Ring Mystery! EAA Chapt 32? Smartt Airport Conspiracy? Can Someone Help?

    Hello Everyone,

    A fellow instructor came to me with a mystery about Smartt Airport (KSET St. Charles County Smartt Airport).

    He flew over it last week and saw a HUGE ring encompassing the airport. We checked on google earth and it really is there.

    I emailed an FBO at the airport and they seem as clueless as we are as to what purpose the ring served.

    Here are my email transactions with the FBO:

    ------------------------------------------------------------
    My name is Tim O'Connor, I am a CFI from Cincinnati, Ohio.


    A fellow employee recently flew over your airport and noticed a ring going around your airport grounds.


    We looked it up on bingmaps and google earth and sure enough there it is!


    We have found no information on the internet about this and conspiracy theory's abound from circular test runways from WWII to horse racing.


    Can anyone there tell us what the ring structure is from so we can do some myth-busting?
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    Hello! Yes! This airport was a WWII training facility for Naval Pilots. I had heard that they needed up to 8 approaches for the training they did. I have also heard that the ring was more visible up until a few years ago.
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    Thank you Sandy!


    Was the ring a runway or a marker they had to land in?


    I am afraid we still don't understand how it was used.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I am told that all of the runways they used back then were encompassed in the ring. I am afraid that is all I know or anyone knows around here...

    Good luck!
    ----------------------------------------------------------

    So, as you can see we have not made much progress uncovering the mystery.

    WWII UFO Base?
    Giant R/C control line for WWII bombers?
    Runway for airplanes with one landing gear shorter then the other?
    Early particle accelerator beam project?

    Does anyone know???Smartt airport Ring.jpg

    http://msrmaps.com/map.aspx?t=1&s=11...22&w=700&h=700
    Last edited by Barnstorm; 03-07-2012 at 02:07 PM.
    "The exhilaration of flying is too keen, the pleasure too great, for it to be neglected as a sport" Orville Wright
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  2. #2

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    Looks like an old access road around the perimeter of the airport.

  3. #3
    Jim Hann's Avatar
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    Tim, it is a shadow of the past. Smartt was a training field back in WWII, I will post a picture of it later tonight if one of my fellow Chapter 32 mates doesn't beat me to it.

    Jim
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  4. #4

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    The answer is pretty simple to us old guys, Landing fields were just that, a place where you lined up with the wind sock and landed,some fields were round and some were square, Runways and cross wind landings did come along until later.

  5. #5
    My first thought was a dirigible airfield, with a mooring mast in the middle with room for the airship to swing. Diameter's too big, though.

    Maybe it's one of these?

    circular.jpg

    Ron Wanttaja

  6. #6
    Mike Switzer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hann View Post
    Tim, it is a shadow of the past. Smartt was a training field back in WWII, I will post a picture of it later tonight if one of my fellow Chapter 32 mates doesn't beat me to it.

    Jim
    If you browse the abandoned airports website you will see several like this, a big round grass field with a perimeter road. One of the original fields East of St Louis used to be like this also - I'm thinking it was the original Parks Field, but I could be confused, it has been a while since i saw the old pics.

  7. #7
    CarlOrton's Avatar
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    Just look at sectionals for a hint. Grass runways are an empty circle. Why? Just guessing, but I'm speculating it's because of the very reason stated above.

    Carl Orton
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  8. #8
    Jim Hann's Avatar
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    Here are the pictures I promised. The first one is labeled "Smartt 1943" and the second is undated. As you can see in the second, they had already reconfigured the airport for the two runways that still exist. The current 9-27 is 2,000 feet long (at the bottom of second picture) so you get an idea how long the old runways were.

    Jim
    Smart+1943.jpgSmartt.jpg
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    Jim Hann
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Switzer View Post
    One of the original fields East of St Louis used to be like this also - I'm thinking it was the original Parks Field, but I could be confused, it has been a while since i saw the old pics.
    The Parks College field was a big square with two crossed grass runways, though earlier it was probably just a big square all in grass. When I was there in the mid 1970s there was still one runway and half of the other one was a taxiway leading out to it at midfield; the rest of the field was planted in soybeans. We flew R/C models off the taxiway. Except for special events, all of the full size flying was at nearby Bi-State Parks (now St. Louis-Downtown).

  10. #10
    dewi8095's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Downey View Post
    The answer is pretty simple to us old guys, Landing fields were just that, a place where you lined up with the wind sock and landed,some fields were round and some were square, Runways and cross wind landings did come along until later.
    I think Tom has the answer. In the early years of aviation, landing sites were designated "fields" and aircraft could land into the wind from any direction. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, aviation began to emulate sea ports which channeled traffic into berths or docks. Thus airfields became airports with designated runways, aprons, tarmacs, and the arrival and departure gates that we have today. During WW II the military compensated by laying out a main and two or more crosswind runways. Now the trend is for many airports, especially the old WW II training sites, to just maintain one or two runways because of the expense of maintaining the others. We see quite a few large WW II airfields in Oklahoma with the x-wind runways closed and deteriorating.

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