Federal State of Baden-Württemberg.
Location of airfield
Schwäbisch Gmünd Army Airfield on a map of the US Department of Defense from 1972 - (ONC E-2 (1972), Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas at Austin /PCL MC/)
Approach to the airfield for helicopters in 1984 - Shown are the reporting points in the west, south and east as well as the routes. From SIERRA the route continued to the reporting point GEISLINGEN.
The airfield was located at Mutlanger Heide, ca. 1 km north of Schwabisch Gmund, southeast of Mutlangen.
The following list of aircraft and operation was compiled by Gribo:
- 1953-1959: Base for two (?) Cessna L-19 Bird Dogs and helicopters
- 1960-1970: DHC-2 Beaver (two?), OV-1 Mohawk (ex Hanau and Stuttgart), Sikorsky H-34 (two?), Sikorsky H-37 (ex Göppingen / Schwäbisch Hall ?)
- 1969-1970: Beech Travel Air of TRIUMPH Company from Heubach was based as the only civil aircraft ever
- 1970-1983: 12 UH-1D, 5 OH-58
- 1983-1985: some CH-47 Chinook (from Schwabisch Hall?), Apache?
- 1985: All helicopters relocated to Goppingen; the runway is covered by large tents
- 1985-1993: only the CH-47 Helipad was active
During the 1980s, the heliport was operated by the 56th Field Artillery Brigade as part of the Mutlangen Storage Area (MSA) for Pershing missiles.
Bob Keller tells:
I was stationed at the airfield at Mutlangen-EDIX (1982-1985) and wanted to clarify your timeline for 1983-1985. We did not have CH-47s stationed at the airfield. Any that arrived were only there for a brief visit, dropping off cargo, etc...those aircraft came from Schwäbisch Hall: Hessental Army Airfield AAF
. In 1982, early 1983 we lost the four OH-58s that were part of our unit. The 12 UH-1H aircraft remained until the unit was reassigned and move to Göppingen: Army Air Field AAF
in late 1985. Up until then there was no CH-47 helipad. If there was it was put in long after the unit left. There was only one large "beer tent" on the "north pads" to give the aircrews a larger covered area for working on the aircraft, since the hanger could only accommodate two aircraft at a time and the motor pool had no garage facility in which to work. In the end, we ended up sharing the small hanger in the winter with the motor pool because of the lack of ANY heat on the tents. Location of the "north pads": the hard stand to the north of the "6" end of the runway. There were originally six hard pads there until we had the beer tents put in.
Just a month before my arrival in July 82, the unit was just known as "the aviation detachment". When I arrived it had been redesignated E Company 55th Maintenance Battalion 56th Field Artillery Brigade
Just prior to the arrival of the Pershing II missiles (and the protesters) the airfield DID NOT have a fence around it. It was a wide open area that anyone could come by and visit. A local sheep herder would bring his flock in to "cut the grass" all around the area for us. A local man would come by and pull all the beer and soda (sprudel) bottles from our trash to claim the deposits on them. We called him the "Airfield Commander", I think we even gave him a ball cap that stated just that. Local school kids would come by after school and sit out on the grass and watch the aircraft come and go. We taught them enough about airfield safety they knew about keeping clear. Sometimes they'd "help out" if we were pushing an aircraft up/down from the pads and join in pushing. Simply put, we were accepted as a part of the community. Snowball fights in the winter were a fun time had by all. Many of us spoke German and did not act in any way act as the "ugly Americans" that were at the other end of our runway. We frequented Stegmaiers Gasthaus in Mutlangen and the Gasthaus at the Sportplatz just outside Bismarck Kaserne in Gmuend. Some of us were invited to sit at the Stammtisch. We considered ourselves "locals".
However, the installation of the fence, the new missiles, and the protesters changed our little utopia. Our daily, informal interaction with the community was cut off, basically everyone was kept out. It was not a pleasant time after that...except one Christmas.
Christmas 1984, we had a unit party down in Bismarck Kaserne. The unit first sergeant asked that some food be set aside for our people pulling guard duty behind the fence at the airfield. After the party the food was loaded into our small VW van and driven up to Mutlangen. Just outside the fence the protesters stood. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, they were there. They were allowed to stop incoming/outgoing traffic for two minutes before the Polizei would ask them to stand aside. This occured EVERYDAY and so on. So the van pulls up and the protesters block the entrance of the gate. Without missing a beat my friend delivering the food got out of the van with a huge tray of food and said "Merry Christmas!" He fed the protesters with the Polizei standing there shaking their heads. After a short period he pointed out he needed to bring the remainder of the food into our guys inside. On his way back out of the airfield the protesters, rather than blocking his exit, stood to one side and wished him a happy holiday.
To this day I still look at the area (Schwaebish Gmuend) I still think of as home and keep updating the wall paper on my computer with the latest images from the Markt Platz webcams...Mutlangen was the place to be, and someday I will return!
Many thanks to Gribo and Bob!