Chasing Ghosts at NAS Brunswick Maine

By Scott Spangler on October 1st, 2014

IMG_3899On Monday, September 29, I completed a lifetime quest of visiting all 50 states by chasing ghosts at Brunswick Executive Airport (BXM), the former Naval Air Station Brunswick Maine. I chose it because my late father, a naval aviator, served here as an SB2C Helldiver (below) pilot at the war’s end. In seeking the ghost of my dad’s aviation past I wandered unmolested with the ghost of aviation’s present and saw glimpses of what may be the ghost of aviation’s future.

The Navy commissioned NAS Brunswick in 1943, two years before my dad arrived with his squadron, which was transferred from NAS Fallon Nevada when the bomb made the invasion of Japan unnecessary. I didn’t take the time to explore each of its 1,487 acres, but I found no evidence from my father’s aviation era. The ghost of aviation present speaks with a loud silence on the airport’s parallel 8,000-foot runways and 103 acres of taxiways and ramps that were once covered with P2v Neptunes and then P-3 Orions. No one was flew during my afternoon sojourn, and the only airplanes I saw were two Cirrus SRs and four amateur-built experimental aircraft tied down around the the old Navy tower and ops building. The only people I ran into was the lineman/counterman at the FBO and a steady stream of moms and their offspring at the daycare center. This, I think, could be the ghost of aviation’s future.

The old Navy tower building is home to FlightLevel Aviation, the FBO,, which offers flight training and flightseeing, and the Midcoast Regional Development Authority, which is responsible for breathing new life back into the airport. That life is not focused solely on aviation. It’s an airport surrounded by a high-tech business and industrial park, and they have a lot to work with.

IMG_3893 Not counting the smaller building, like the former chapel, the redevelopment folks have 650,000 square-feet of hangar and maintenance space to work with. Kestrel has one of the big new hangars and a company that does some unknown work on business jets has another. I didn’t see any signs of activity or life at the other hangars, but I have hope. Having visited more than a few decommissioned military bases, including NAS Alameda California, where I served in the 1970s, the former NAS Brunswick is in tip top shape.

In time, I think, high tech businesses and industry that need an airport’s open spaces will fill the void left by aviation at what was NAS Brunswick, and at other airports across the land as well, for on this trip I have seen the ghost of aviation present in all of the states between Wisconsin and Maine, well maintained and manicured airports devoid of life. –Scott Spangler, Editor


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