The Milovice Airbase in the Czech Republic became one of the largest and busiest Soviet airports in central Europe. During its existence, it passed through the hands of Czechoslovakians, Germans, and Soviets.
The military airfield was located 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) northeast of Prague, and it was given the same name as the nearby town. In fact, connections with the town of Milovice, which was southwest of the base, were strong since many of the airbase’s personnel were located there.
The Milovice airfield first became active in the 1920s and was used by German troops during World War II. After the end of the war, the Czechoslovak Air Force made the former German airfield their main base, and MiGs were launched from Milovice.
In the early 1950s, the Czechoslovak Air Force added an airstrip to the base, making the Milovice site the first airfield in Czechoslovakia to have such a feature. The Air Force also installed a complex system of underground reservoirs and pipes to store fuel nearby but not on the base, to avoid explosions in the event of an attack. Part of this system included reinforced concrete tanks, which could survive a direct hit.
However, the airfield belonged to Czechoslovakia only until 1968. That summer, two Soviet planes arrived at Milovice airfield and 25 Soviet representatives went for talks with the base commander. Later that same day, two more planes flew in, this time carrying armed military personnel. A night training mission for the Czechoslovakian soldiers was canceled.
At dawn the next day, Soviet tanks containing a large number of soldiers arrived at the airfield. The soldiers took up stations around the airfield. Anecdotal evidence suggests the Czechoslovakian soldiers had tears in their eyes and viewed such actions as an invasion and occupation by the USSR, a country supposed to be an ally of Czechoslovakia.
After occupying the Czechoslovak Milovice airfield, the Soviet military immediately began to build a self-sufficient village on the northern side of the base. This village was called Boži Dar (meaning “God’s gift”) and was exclusively for the base’s troops and their families to live in. Staff no longer stayed in the nearby town.
There is also evidence that the airbase might have had a sauna and steam room onsite for use by personnel. And some people believe that there was also a cinema there to keep the residents entertained, although any evidence of that has long been removed by looters.
In addition to the village, the runway was lengthened to 8,500 feet and reinforced hangars were built, large enough to contain MiG-21 and MiG-23/27 aircraft. The hangars were given incredibly sturdy doors that required small engines to open them. Some of these engines are still visible at the base.
To accommodate the Mi-8 and Mi-24 attack helicopters, several open-air landing sites were built. Two Granit-type containers were also installed south of the runway for nuclear warhead storage.
On January 21, 1991, following the Velvet Revolution and the end of the Cold War, Soviet troops left the airfield. After that, the Skoda car factory used the airfield for a while as a storage facility for its unsold vehicles. However, in 1995, the airfield ceased being used by anyone and became open to the public.
After its total abandonment, Milovice airfield began to be visited by urban explorers, and even rock concerts were held there. In 2008, a plan was created to reopen the airfield, but the economic crisis did not allow this plan to be implemented.
Visitors to this site should exercise great care because not only is this still state property, there are also risks from leftover defenses. Some urban explorers have discovered barbed wire in the grass at ankle level from fallen fences, and many of the buildings are in such an appalling state that they are at risk of collapse.
The Soviets also allegedly poured their excess fuel out onto the ground before leaving and buried unwanted ammunition in the ground. Although the Environment Ministry dug up and disposed of most of the ordnance in the 1990s, this site should still be considered hazardous. In 2013, one dog-walker came across three landmines and an artillery shell.
The photographer, CarloR, runs a blog about his travels. He likes to visit places that do not usually fit into typical travel plans. Before each trip, he carefully plans all the details and uncovers as much as he can about the history of his chosen location.
Afterward, he openly shares everything that he has learned as well as his experiences upon reaching his destination.
CarloR also takes many detailed photographs of his explorations and publishes them in an article. Visit his website and feel free to contact him with any questions about trips you might have.
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