runway: 09/27 - 3000x75meters/9842x..feet - concrete (CLOSED)
Air field Raadi (Also known as Tartu Air Base, Russian: Тарту, ICAO: EETR) was an airfield 4KM northeast of Tartu, Estonia.
The airfield originated in 1912, when a Russian pilot took to the air for the first time in a Farman. In 1914 10 aircraft used the land of Baron Liphart, the uncle of one of the pilots, for a stopover on a cross country flight.
After Estonia gained independence two hangars were built at Raadi. The airfield was expanded in 1925, and again in 1930. In May 1940 five Henschel He-126 were delivered, but only a month later the Soviets took control and banned all flying. The resulting partizan war was (out of necessity) fought on the side of the Soviets main enemy, the Germans.
When the Germans drove the Soviets out of Estonia, they began upgrading the airfield with a concrete runway. The base became an important airfield for the Luftwaffe. They used the base to station several units, including maintenance and repair facilities. In the summer of 1944 Ju-87 'Stukas' of JG54 were stationed at the airfield.
The Soviets took over Raadi airfield in 1944. The airfield was then bombed by the Luftwaffe, which destroyed a number of historical buildings.
After the war, in the 1950s and 1960s the airfield was expanded on the estate of the Estonian National Museum, the Raadi Mõis (Raadi Manor). Raadi became one of Eastern Europes largest and most important airfields. Because Raadi airfield had become a secret air base, the city of Tartu and its surrounding were closed of from the outside world by the Soviet military. The people of Tartu were permitted to meet with friends and family once a year at a facility outside Tartu, under explicit orders not to talk about the air base or even mention its name.
The airfield itself was a fairly extensive base with 24 large revetments and over 30 smaller ones. By 1984 the airfield was home to 326th "Ternopil Order of Kutuzov" Heavy Bomber Air Division headquarters of which the 132 TBAP (132nd "Berlin Order of Kutuzov and Alexander Nevsky" Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment, which flew Tupolev Tu-16 and Tupolev Tu-22M aircraft) was stationed at the base. Noteworthy is that the 326th Heavy Bomber Division was led by the later commander of Chechen militants Džohhar Dudajev.
An odd photo shot at Raadi: a Soviet Il-76M 'Candid' offloading a French-built Citroën model-H van.
Satellite image of Raadi airbase, ca1990 (Flashearth.com)
Raadi was also a transport base with the 192 and/or 196 VTAP (Military Transport Aviation Regiment) flying Ilyushin Il-76M 'Candid' cargo jets until 1990. The transports were civilian (Aeroflot) registered but Air Force owned and operated. Several large fuel spills took place at the airfield, resulting in soil and groundwater pollution.
In 1992 the Soviets left Raadi. A year later the Ministry of Defense transferred ownership to Raadi Airport AS.
Raadi airbase May 2006 (Google Earth)
By 1993 it was listed as a designated emergency airfield on a 1993 Jeppesen chart for airline use. The runway functioned as an alternate for Talinn airport, which was developing at the time. In 1994 Polish president Lech Walesa landed at the airfield.
The last aircraft to land at Raadi probably did so in 1996. In April 1999 the airfield closed permanently and since the airfield is marked as (CLOSED).
On 16 January 2006 the winning submission of the international architecture competition held to design the new Estonian National Museum building was revealed. The plan includes the restauration of the old Raadi Mõis.
Former control tower of Raadi airbase (2010- © Han de Ridder)
Old hangar at Raadi airbase (2010- © Han de Ridder)
Runway of Raadi airbase with a large almost greyed out 'X' mark (2010- © Han de Ridder)
Taxyway at Raadi airbase in a VERY bad shape (2010- © Han de Ridder)
In March 2011 much of the old airbase still existed, albeit in a very bad shape. The old control tower now housed some families. In the hangars several smaller companies had set up their business. The runway had been shortened on the east side and was primarily used to store debris from torn down buildings and for car sales.
Construction of the modern Estonian National Museum took place in 2014. It was built to appear as an extension to the western end of the old runway/parking platform and from the air it seems to form part of it.
Raadi AB in 2016. When you watch Raadi in detail, you'll see the runway is completely blocked by acar market on the western end and a lot of debris on the eastern half. Only a major investment could bring the airfield back to life (Google Earth)
Thanks to Han de Ridder for pointing out this airfield and providing me with his pictures.