Tag Archives: El Paso

El Paso International Airport and Biggs Army Airfield Histories — Part 1


El Paso Military Aviation and Biggs Army Airfield:

In 1919 the first permanent aviation presence arrived at Fort Bliss Aviation Field. The U.S. Army deployed to Fort Bliss the 104th Aero Squadron, which operated the Geoffrey de Havilland-designed Dayton-Wright DH-4. These aircraft patrolled the border between the United States and Mexico, becoming the first aerial Border Patrol operation.

Dayton-Wright DH-4, based on the Airco D.H.4

Meanwhile, in December of that same year, the Army relocated airship operations from Brooks Field, San Antonio, to a location two miles northeast of Bliss Aviation Field, on National Guard Camp Owen Bierne. On January 5, 1925, Bliss Aviation Field was renamed Biggs Field in honor of El Paso native Lt. James B. Biggs, who lost his life flying a pursuit aircraft in France during World War I, and on July 1, 1926, Biggs Field relocated to Camp Owen Beirne, which to this day is the present location of Biggs Army Airfield.

U.S. Army C-2 blimp at Brooks Field, San Antonio, 1922

During World War II Biggs Field would take on a new, expanded role. Bombers arrived, and aircrews began training for the conflict by learning to operate the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Consolidated B-24 Liberator, and later in the war the Boeing B-29 Superfortress.

Consolidated B-24 Liberator

In 1947, command of Biggs Field transferred to the newly formed United States Air Force, which operated Biggs Air Force Base as a heavy bomber base under control of the Strategic Air Command (SAC). During its days as a SAC base, Biggs Air Force Base hosted the Boeing B-50 Superfortress (post-war advancement of the WWII era B-29 Superfortress), the massive 10-engine (six propellers, four jet engines) Convair B-36 Peacemaker, Boeing B-47 Stratojet, Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighter, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, and the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker. Biggs Air Force Base closed in 1966, at which time control of the field reverted to the U.S. Army. However, Biggs Field would remain closed for seven years, resuming operations as Biggs Army Airfield in 1973.

Convair B-36 Peacemaker

Today Biggs Army Airfield has one runway. Runway 21/03 is one of the longest in the Western United States, measuring 13,554 x 150 feet (4, 131 x 46 meters).

Biggs Army Airfield diagram

Wednesday — El Paso Civil Aviation

© 2018 R. Doug Wicker

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Fun Photo Friday — Snowstorm Favorites, El Paso 2015


Fog on Snow

Fog on Snow

It was fun while it lasted.  But El Paso snows seldom last for long.  Best to take advantage of them when they arrive to snap some memories.

El Paso Snowstorm 2015

El Paso Snowstorm 2015

Here is today’s gallery of some of my favorite shots from this past weekend’s snowstorm (Click on any image below to enlarge and bring up the slide show):

Oh, and let me wish you all a very, very great and wondrous New Year.

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El Paso Buried in Snow — Christmas 2015


View from Front Yard

View from Front Yard

I’ll continue our journey from Chile with a stop in Paracas, Peru, beginning next week.  But first I wanted to share with you our rare El Paso snowstorm, which started the day after Christmas and didn’t end until nearly noon the following day.  Friday’s blog will feature some favorite shots taken during and after this blizzard, and on Wednesday I’m going to feature some rather fun firearms.

Franklin Mountains in Snow

Franklin Mountains in Snow

You may recall that I posted some hints on how to photograph snow in “Honey, why is the snow so gray . . . and your face so dark?”  The trick, as you’ll recall, is primarily exposure compensation, and today’s photographs are no exception.  These shots, both during the storm and later in bright sun conditions, were taken with a compensation of +1.3 stops to compensate for how snow tricks the camera’s built-in exposure metering.

Neighbors across the Arroyo

Neighbors across the Arroyo

How did I come up with that number?  Experience, mostly.  But I also photographed in raw just to give myself maximum leeway in case I guessed wrong.  I didn’t.  The only post-processing necessary for these shots were tweaks in saturation, contrast, shadow control, color balance, and some cropping.  No tweaking of exposure was needed.

View from the Backyard

View from the Backyard

Fortunately up here on the mountain we get some great views.  Here’s a shot of mountains in neighboring New Mexico:

View of New Mexico Mountains

View of New Mexico Mountains

And here is another of the Franklin Mountains that tower over us:

Franklin Mountains

Franklin Mountains

As for color balance, the camera was set to auto-balance but I found I got better results with the snowstorm photos by switching that to “Cloudy” (5,500K) in post processing.  This removed some of the bluish tint without warming the snow too much.

Ocotillo on Ice

Ocotillo on Ice

In the backyard Eve got a strong dose of snow (statue by David Pearson, “Ascension of Eve“):

Ascension of Eve in Snow

Ascension of Eve in Snow

Fortunately that melted almost immediately following the breakup of the overcast and the welcome arrival of warming sun rays:

Eve Thawing

Eve Thawing

Our neighbors’ house got quite the dusting on the parapet of their beautiful Santa Fe-style home:

Neighbors' House

Neighbors’ House

Of course our own front balconies were not immune to accumulation:

Balcony View

Balcony View

And I’m sure the desert plants will enjoy the moisture as well:

Desert Plants

Desert Plants

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