Riga: Airfield Spilve

Spilves lidosta, Rīgas gaisa osta, Riga Central, Рига Спилве

For historical information only, do not use for navigation or aviation purposes!
CoordinatesN565911 E0240417 (WGS84) Google Maps
Location indicatorEUPR, EVRS
Map with location of Riga Spilve airfield
The history of the Cold War airfields: Riga
by Bert Kondruss

General

The capital Riga is located in the center of Latvia. The Spilve Airfield is in the north of the city. During the Cold War, Riga Spilve was an airport and also used for military purposes. Today, Spilve is a general aviation airfield.

During the 1920s/1930s

Usage

Airport.

Runways, taxiways, aprons

Landing area: 800 m in all directions.

Obstacles

In the south-east airport buildings and high tension cable.

Fuel equipment

Petrol, oil.

Customs, post office, passport:

Post and telegraph office at the airport.

Timetable

Summer 1928

The timetable for summer of 1928 shows the following scheduled flights:
(Days: 1=Monday ... 7=Sunday)
3a Berlin (Tempelhof) - Danzig (Langfuhr) - Königsberg - Riga (Spilve) - Smolensk - Moskau
  • Deruluft:
    123456– | Berlin 23:00 - 02:30 Danzig 02:45 - 03:45 Königsberg 04:30 - 06:45 Riga 07:15 - 12:15 Smolensk 12:45 - 15:00 Moskau
    Landing at Danzig on demand only
  • Deruluft:
    123456– | Moskau 08:00 - 10:15 Smolensk 10:45 - 13:45 Riga 14:15 - 16:30 Königsberg 17:30 - 18:30 Danzig 18:45 - 22:00 Berlin
    Landing in Danzig (today Gdansk) only on demand for passengers flying to and from Russia, Latvia, Estonia and Finland.
3b Riga (Spilve) - Reval (Tallin) - Leningrad (St. Petersburg)
  • Deruluft:
    123456– | Riga 07:25 - 10:40 Reval (Tallin) 11:00 - 13:15 Leningrad (St. Petersburg)
  • Deruluft:
    123456– | Leningrad (St. Petersburg) 08:30 - 10:45 Reval (Tallin) 11:15 - 12:30 Riga
Departures and arrivals by time
DaysTimeDep/ArrRouteOperatorAircraft typeto/from
123456–06:45Arr3aDeruluftBerlin - Danzig - Königsberg
123456–07:15Dep3aDeruluftSmolensk - Moskau
123456–07:25Dep3bDeruluftReval (Tallin) - Leningrad (St. Petersburg)
123456–12:30Arr3bDeruluftLeningrad (St. Petersburg) - Reval (Tallin)
123456–13:45Arr3aDeruluftMoskau - Smolensk
123456–14:15Dep3aDeruluftKönigsberg - Danzig - Berlin

Spring/Summer 1939

The timetable for spring/summer of 1939 shows the following scheduled flights:
(Days: 1=Monday ... 7=Sunday)
33 Berlin (Tempelhof) - Königsberg (Devau) - Kaunas - Riga (Spilve) - Tallinn (Ülemiste) - Helsinki
  • Deutsche Lufthansa, Junkers Ju 52 / Aero O/Y (Helsinki):
    1234567 | Berlin 07:20 - 09:45 Königsberg 10:10 - 11:15 Kaunas 11:35 - 13:50 Riga 14:10 - 15:35 Tallinn 15:55 - 16:30 Helsinki
  • Deutsche Lufthansa, Junkers Ju 52 / Aero O/Y (Helsinki):
    1234567 | Helsinki 09:10 - 09:45 Tallinn 10:05 - 11:30 Riga 11:55 - 12:10 Kaunas 12:25 - 13:35 Königsberg 14:05 - 16:50 Berlin
1549 Helsinki - Reval - Riga (Spilve) - Kaunas - Vilnius - Warsaw (Okęcie) - Kraków - Budapest (Budaörs)
  • P. L. L. Lot, Lockheed 10 A / Malert, Junkers Ju-52:
    123456– | Helsinki 07:30 - 08:00 Reval 08:20 - 09:35 Riga 09:55 - 10:00 Kaunas 10:20 - 10:50 Vilnius 11:10 - 13:00 Warsaw: Okęcie Airport 13:40 - 14:45 Kraków 15:05 - 16:35 Budapest
    Malert: only Budepest-Warschau
  • P. L. L. Lot, Lockheed 10 A / Malert, Junkers Ju-52:
    123456– | Budapest 08:00 - 09:30 Kraków 09:50 - 10:55 Warsaw: Okęcie Airport 11:30 - 13:10 Vilnius 13:30 - 14:00 Kaunas 14:20 - 16:30 Riga 16:50 - 18:10 Reval 18:30 - 19:00 Helsinki
    Malert: only Budepest-Warschau
1900 Riga (Spilve) - Liepāja
  • State Air Line, Riga:
    1234567 | Riga 07:30 - 08:30 Liepāja
    Sundays one hour later
  • State Air Line, Riga:
    1234567 | Liepāja 17:35 - 18:35 Riga
1901 Riga (Spilve) - Liepaja
  • State Air Line, Riga:
    1234567 | Riga 16:15 - 17:15 Liepaja
  • State Air Line, Riga:
    1234567 | Liepaja 08:50 - 09:50 Riga
    Sundays one hour later
Departures and arrivals by time
DaysTimeDep/ArrRouteOperatorAircraft typeto/from
123456707:30Dep1900State Air Line, RigaLiepāja
123456–09:35Arr1549P. L. L. LotLockheed 10 A /
Junkers Ju-52
Helsinki - Reval
123456709:50Arr1901State Air Line, RigaLiepaja
123456–09:55Dep1549P. L. L. LotLockheed 10 A /
Junkers Ju-52
Kaunas - Vilnius - Warsaw: Okęcie Airport - Kraków - Budapest
123456711:30Arr33Deutsche LufthansaJunkers Ju 52Helsinki - Tallinn
123456711:55Dep33Deutsche LufthansaJunkers Ju 52Kaunas - Königsberg - Berlin
123456713:50Arr33Deutsche LufthansaJunkers Ju 52Berlin - Königsberg - Kaunas
123456714:10Dep33Deutsche LufthansaJunkers Ju 52Tallinn - Helsinki
123456716:15Dep1901State Air Line, RigaLiepaja
123456–16:30Arr1549P. L. L. LotLockheed 10 A /
Junkers Ju-52
Budapest - Kraków - Warsaw: Okęcie Airport - Vilnius - Kaunas
123456–16:50Dep1549P. L. L. LotLockheed 10 A /
Junkers Ju-52
Reval - Helsinki
123456718:35Arr1900State Air Line, RigaLiepāja

During the Cold War

Usage

Riga Spilve continued to serve as a commercial airport in the 1950s and 1960s until it was replaced by Riga West Airport in this role.

Units

Occupation by Soviet units (courtesy of "Unter dem Radar"):
  • September 1953 - April 1955: Fighter Regiment (MiG-17)
  • ?? - 1988: Parts of an independent composite squadron (An-14A, Mi-6VZPU, Mi-22, Mi-8T, Mi-8P, Mi-14PS)
  • Unit of the KGB border patrol (An-24, An-26)

In the 1950s

Overview

Riga Spilve airfield in 1955
Sketch of the airport in a CIA report from 1955 - According to this report, there are also jet planes on the airfield, some of which are on alert. About 2.5 km south of the field there are further barracks and a factory for aircraft engines (here marked as Experimental Aircraft Works) (Source: CIA)
Map of Riga Spilve Airport 1957
Riga Spilve 1957 - (Source: CIA)

In the 1960s

Overview

Map of Riga Spilve Airport 1962
Riga Spilve 1962 - (Source: CIA)

Runways

  • 14/32: 1700 m x 50 m concrete
  • 18/36: 2000 m x 100 m Grass

Radio beacons

  • LOM 14: 360 "WT", 3620 m to threshold 14
  • LMM 14: 732 "W", 1050 m to threshold 14
  • KGSP 14: 109,9 Mc

Radar

Precision Approach Radar (PAR) for all landing directions.

Radio communication

  • Riga Center (UIR) 4689.5 kc, 6582 kc, 119.7 Mc
  • Riga Control (ACC) 3072 kc, 4689 kc, 5548 kc, 6582 kc, 129,0 Mc
  • UMC (Shortwave direction finder) 3918 kc, 2868 kc
  • Riga Approach (APP) 126,0 Mc, 118,1 Mc
  • Riga Start (Tower) 128,0 Mc, 118,1 Mc
  • Riga Peleng (VHF direction finder) 129,0 Mc, 119,7 Mc

History

  • July 1965
    On satellite images, the CIA counted the following aircraft at the airfield: 1 small with straight-wing, 1 possible medium straight-wing, 3 possible small straight-wing aircraft.
    Source: /CIA/
  • October/November 1965
    On satellite images, the CIA counted the following aircraft at the airfield: 5 light straight-wing and 8 probable aircraft.
    Source: /CIA/

In the 1970s

Situation

Riga Spilve Airfield on a map from 1973
Riga Spilve Airfield on a map of the US Department of Defense from 1973 (Source: Quelle: ONC D-3 (1973), Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas at Austin)

Overview

Riga Airfield, Germany, on a US satellite image 1972
Riga Airfield on a US satellite image from 01 May 1972 (Source: U.S. Geological Survey)
Northern end of the runway
Northern end of the runway (Source: U.S. Geological Survey)
Parking pads
Parking pads (Source: U.S. Geological Survey)
Parking positions
(Source: U.S. Geological Survey)
Objekt in the northwest
Objekt in the northwest (Source: U.S. Geological Survey)
Aircraft
Aircraft (Source: U.S. Geological Survey)
(Source: U.S. Geological Survey)
Object in the west
Object in the west (Source: U.S. Geological Survey)
Parked aircraft
Parked aircraft (Source: U.S. Geological Survey)
Terminal building and aircraft
Terminal building and aircraft (Source: U.S. Geological Survey)

Today

Usage

General aviation.

Images

The following pictures from 2013 were kindly provided by "the passenger", whom I thank a lot!
Guard house, Riga Spilve
Guard building ripped off, burned out, full with rubish and graffities. But birch trees (Source: the passenger)
Riga international airport
Arrival at former Riga international airport (Source: the passenger)
Former terminal building
Built in 1954 (Source: the passenger)
Building
Building (Source: the passenger)
Hammer and sickle
Hammer and sickle (Source: the passenger)

Sources

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