Pago Pago International Airport (IATA: PPG, ICAO: NSTU, FAA LID: PPG), also referred to as Tafuna Airport (or Tafuna International Airport) or Pago Pago International with airport designation PPG is a public airport located three miles (5 km) southwest of the central business district of Pago Pago, in the village and plains of Tafuna on the island of Tutuila in American Samoa, an unincorporated territory of the United States.
Pago Pago International Airport was first used for commercial trans pacific air service in the mid to late 1950s. It was first used for inter island air service between Faleolo, Western Samoa and Pago Pago in 1959 by newly formed, Apia-based Polynesian Airlines and short-lived, Pago Pago-based Samoan Airways, using the original military facilities and ex-military DC-3 type aircraft. Pago Pago International Airport went through major re-construction in 1963 under the U.S. President Kennedy administration and was opened to jet service in 1964 to stimulate tourism and the local economy. A new terminal building was constructed. The original military constructed runway 14/32 was repositioned and reconstructed to become runway 5/23 with a paved length of 9,000 ft. New taxiways and tarmac areas were also constructed.
South Pacific jet service between Sydney (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand), Honolulu (Hawaii) and Papeete (Tahiti) were first offered by Pan American World Airways in 1964 with Boeing 707 aircraft. Air New Zealand followed with DC-8 Service via Pago Pago to Auckland as did American Airlines in the early 70s with Boeing 707 aircraft. The airport was a vital link to the Samoan Islands until the runway at Faleolo International Airport in Independent Samoa was improved and lengthened to handle larger than Boeing 737 type aircraft in 1984. With those improvements, international airline traffic began to shift from Pago Pago to Faleolo airport.
Runway 8/26 was unimproved and non-functional for aircraft in the 1960s and early 1970s. In the late 1970s after a second expansion and renovation to the 1960s terminal building commenced, funding and rehabilitation of runway 5/23 occurred. Today, Runway 8/26 is widely used for air taxi operators flying to Apia, Ofu or Tau.
To facilitate aircraft with large payload requirements and long distance flights, runway 5/23 was expanded in early 2001 from an original runway length of 9,000 ft to the current 10,000 ft.
Pago Pago International Airport had historic significance with the U.S. Apollo space program. The Astronauts of Apollo 10, 12, 13, 14 and 17 were retrieved a few hundred miles from Pago Pago and transported by helicopter to the airport prior to being flown back to Honolulu on C-141 starlifter military aircraft.
Pago Pago International Airport is owned and operated by the American Samoa Government.
The site and location of the current airport was known then as Tafuna Airfield. It was part of U.S. Naval Station Tutuila and was partially constructed before war broke out in the Pacific on December 7, 1941. The airstrips were completed and opened on March 17, 1942.
On March 19, 1942 U.S. Marine air unit VMF-111 arrived followed by VMO-151 (SBC-45) which were based at Tafuna Airfield throughout World War II. The original runways were compass bearing 9/27 (6,080 ft x 500 ft) and 14/32 (3,000 ft x 200 ft) and were constructed of compact coral. The main terminal airfield buildings, a large hangar and control tower were located at the edge of today's runway 8/26 and at what is today the Tafuna Industrial Park area.
A Bomber and fighter airstrip was also constructed during the same period in the village of Leone, known then as Leone Airfield. It was situated on what is today Leone High School and Midkiff Elementary School on the western edge of Tutuila Island. Leone Airfield was 6,000 ft x 500 ft and had a short life during the war. Remanence of Leone Airfield can be seen from the air with a straight clearance road starting from the WVUV-AM radio tower to Midkiff Elementary School.
Facilities and aircraft
Pago Pago International Airport provides the following aircraft facilities:
Airlines and destinations
Home based airlines (current and previous)
Pago Pago International Airport offers the following passenger facilities at the main airport terminal:
In January 30, 1974, Pan Am Flight 806, Boeing 707-321B "Clipper Radiant", operating a scheduled flight from Auckland, New Zealand, to Los Angeles, California with en route stops in Pago Pago, American Samoa, and Honolulu, Hawaii crashed into trees at an elevation of 113 feet, and about 3,865 feet short of runway 23/5 threshold. The first impact with the ground was about 236 feet farther along the crash path. The aircraft continued through the jungle vegetation, struck a 3-foot-high lava rock wall, and stopped about 3,090 feet from the runway threshold. There were 97 fatalities out of 101 occupants on the aircraft.
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The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2010.
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