1984: Testing the Autobahn Airfield – A10s, Hercules’ and Fighters Land On A Highway (Watch)
Near the end of the cold war, in 1984 to be more precise, on the German Highway better known as the Autobahn NATO held an exercise to prep for a contingency of landing locations in case airbases in the area have been taken out of commission by a Soviet attack.
Many allied aircraft including A-10 Thunderbolts, C-130 Hercules transports and F-15 and F-16 fighters landed on a purposely built 2600 meter straight part of the A-29 Autobahn. Immediately after landing all planes were refueled from tanker trucks and took off from the same stretch of road.
During the 1980s the Autobahn featured 29 stretches of road that were able to accommodate air traffic upon 24 hour notice. In order to provide them available for landing of aircraft, these parts of the highway had no above-ground power cables and all the other highway necessities like signs and crash barriers were made to be removed in case such need occurs.
Near the end of the Second World War, Nazi Germany constructed the Reichsautobahn in such manner that aircraft were able to land and then take off from them, since during this time, all the German airbases were constantly attacked and deemed unusable for most of the time.
During the Cold war, integrating air strips in the highway system was a practice used on both sides of the Iron Curtain in Germany but also in North Korea, Taiwan, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Poland and Czechoslovakia. After the end of the Cold War most of these highways stretched improvised airfields have been decommissioned and converted to be used only as roads but there are still a few that remain.