Dhahran (OEDR) in the 1950s May 27, 2021 4:03:13 GMT -5
Post by connieguy on May 27, 2021 4:03:13 GMT -5
Dhahran (OEDR) in Saudi Arabia in some ways linked East and West. MATS C-121s flew there via the Azores and Port Lyautey and Navy R7V-1s from California and Hawaii. It was also on the routes of some commercial airlines, and aircraft from the Cal Classic 1957 traffic folder are present. According to my OAG guide of December 1953 TWA was stopping between Cairo and Bombay and Saudi Arabian Airlines was travelling from Jeddah, while Gulf Aviation, ME-Middle East Airlines and MR-MISR airlines also visited. Twice a week, on Tuesday and Saturday, KLM cargo flights arrived from Amsterdam, the Tuesday flight going on to Karachi, the Saturday flight terminating in Dhahran.
By an agreement of 1945 (what follows is a much abbreviated version of Wikipedia) the Saudis allowed the US to build a small airfield near the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) town. In 1949 it was the only airfield in the area which could support USAF Superfortresses. The Dhahran airfield and the emerging support facilities became Dhahran International Airport in 1961, shortly before the United States relinquished control in 1962. By then a grand new terminal had been built. Today the airfield is used by the Royal Saudi Air Force and is known as King Abdulaziz Air Base.
There is, almost needless to say, an invaluable Flickr album on Dhahran pre-1960 by John Hewson:
This shows terminal buildings far more primitive than the building which replaced them. Aramco DC-4 aircraft can be seen near them. In 1950 Flight D of the 7th Air Rescue Squadron was present, in 1959 Detachment 10 of the 1602nd Air Transport Wing, MATS; the presidential aircraft Columbine III visited the same year. There is unfortunately no airfield chart available, but there are watercolour drawings which provide useful aerial evidence, and which show one roughly North-South runway and one roughly East-West runway. It seems likely that following the practice of the early 1950s these were each about 7000 feet long. I have tried taking off in a C-121C loaded to overload weight and carrying full fuel in a temperature of about 50C and the runway was adequate.
Re-creation of this mid-1950s Dhahran has been made easier by Dan French's kindness in making convincing terminal buildings for the new scenery. I offer screenshots of the airfield below. The water tower is currently in the wrong place. Comment and information of any kind welcome at this point, particularly if we could be pointed to people sprites of Middle Eastern appearance.