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    Sand Island Seaplane Base (NAS Midway Islands) Midway Atoll USA
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USN November 24, 1941

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USN June 1942

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USN 1945

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Google Earth 2016

Location
Lat 28°12′05″N Long 177°22′53″W  Sand Island Seaplane Base was located in the western portion of Sand Island bordering the Inner Harbor at the southern edge of Midway Atoll. This installation was part of NAS Midway Islands.

Prewar
During April 1935, a Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) Sikorsky S-42 "Pan American Clipper" piloted by Captain Edwin Musick  with a crew of five on a transpacific survey flight visited Midway Atoll to establish an aerial route linking Hawaii to Midway then onward to Wake, Guam and Manila.

To develop facilities at Midway, Pan Am mounted mounted two expeditions to Midway Atoll to establish facilities on Sand Island, the first "North Haven Expedition" in 1935 and the second "North Haven Expedition II" in 1936 using steamer SS North Haven traveling from San Francisco with construction materials, fuel and six months of supplies for the construction crew. Pan Am built a seaplane ramp and refueling facilities at this location.

Wartime History
During 1939 the U. S. Navy (USN) contracted several construction firms, which formed Contractors Pacific Naval Air Base for the construction of a seaplane base and facilities on Sand Island. The seaplane base included a seaplane ramp, seaplane hanger, apron area and moorings. These facailities were expanded during the Pacific War.

During September 1940, a U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) 3rd Defense Battalion detachment was assigned to Midway and began constructing defenses. In September 1941, replaced by the 6th Marine Defense Battalion.

Japanese missions against Midway Atoll
December 7, 1941 - June 4, 1942

During early 1944, PB2Y-3 Coronado flying boats from VP-13 and VP-102 were based at this location.

American units based at Sand Island Seaplane Base
VP-23 (PBY-5 Catalina)
VP-13 (PB2Y-2 Coronado)
VP-102 (PB2Y-2 Coronado)

Naming
During 1945 after Midway Airfield (Henderson Field) was closed, Sand Island Airfield became the sole airfield servicing Midway Atoll and became known as "Henderson Field", this was the third airfield named in honor of Major Lofton R. Henderson pilot of SBD Dauntless 2129 Missing In Action (MIA) June 4, 1942. Two other airfields were also named "Henderson FIeld" are Midway Airfield (Henderson Field) on Eastern Island plus Lunga Point Airfield (Henderson Field, Bomber 1) on Guadalcanal.

Postwar
Until 1947, Sand Island Airport was used by Pan Am as a stopover point for transcontinental flight by Boeing 377 Stratocruiser airlines crossing the Pacific. From 1947-1950 operated by the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA).

Today
Known as Henderson Airfield. The single runway is oriented 6/24 and measures 7,800' x 150' and is surfaced with asphalt. The airport is uncontrolled airport with no control tower provides the only air service for Midway Atoll. Airport codes: IATA: MDY, ICAO: PMDY. During November to June, flights are limited to night when albatross birds are present.

Between 2011 to 2014 several aircraft including a Boeing 747-400 Delta Flight 277, a pair of F-18D Hornets and Boeing 777-200 United Airlines Flight UA-201 made landings at this airfield due to emergencies.

References
National Parks Service - World War II Facilities at Midway
AirNav - Henderson Field Airport Midway Atoll, US Minor Islands

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Last Updated
January 9, 2018

 

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