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Coronel Enrique Soto Cano Ab Airport

Soto Cano Air Base
Airport type Military
Location Comayagua
Elevation AMSL 2,062 ft / 628 m
Coordinates 14°22′57″N 87°37′05″W / 14.38239°N 87.61794°W / 14.38239; -87.61794Coordinates: 14°22′57″N 87°37′05″W / 14.38239°N 87.61794°W / 14.38239; -87.61794
Direction Length Surface
ft m
17/35 8,008 2,441 Paved

Soto Cano Air Base (commonly known as Palmerola Air Base) is a Honduran military base 5 miles to the south of Comayagua in Honduras. A modest concentration of US troops and the Honduran Air Force academy use the airbase. The airbase became operational in 1981, changing the old location the Honduras Air Force Academy in Toncontin, Tegucigalpa to Palmerola. More info about Honduras Air Force Academy [1] (Spanish) The US government once used Palmerola as a base of operations to support their foreign policy objectives in the 1980s. Now the U.S. military uses Soto Cano as a launching point for its war on drugs efforts in Central America as well as humanitarian aid missions throughout Honduras and Central America.

In addition to the Honduran Air Force Academy, the US military's Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-B) is headquartered at Soto Cano. JTF-B consists of Medical Element - Military Hospital, Army Forces, Air Force Forces, Joint Security Forces, and the 1st Battalion-228th Aviation Regiment (consisting of some 18 aircraft, a mix of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and CH-47 Chinook helicopters).

About Soto Cano and JTF-Bravo command and structure

José Enrique Soto Cano Air Base is a Honduras military installation and home of the Honduras Air Force and Honduras Air Force Academy. It is located less than 10 miles (16 km) from Comayagua (population: 33,000), and 60 miles (97 km) from the Honduras capital, Tegucigalpa. The base is about two miles (3 km) wide and six miles (10 km) long; lies in the Comayagua Valley and is ringed by 8,000-foot (2,400 m) mountain peaks to the east and west. Soto Cano sits at an elevation of 2,062 feet (628 m) above sea level.

The American contingent at Soto Cano Air Base is designated Joint Task Force-Bravo [2] and consists of both U.S. military personnel and Honduran civilians. They work in six different major support commands including the Joint Staff, 612th Air Base Squadron, Army Forces, Joint Security Forces and Medical Element. The sixth MSC is a tenant unit also based at Soto Cano. The 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, a U.S. Army South asset, provides aerial support for the JTF-Bravo mission. The Joint-Staff provides command and control for JTF-B.

The 612 ABS has among its functions; weather forecasting, fire protection, and maintaining a 24-hour C-5 Galaxy-capable runway. The Army Forces operate finance, personnel and airborne operations. Joint Security Forces consists of Air Force and Army force protection personnel who patrol the base and provide gate guard duty alongside their Honduran counterparts.

Health care services are performed by the Medical Element. The 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment performs a variety of airlift support missions throughout Central and South America with UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters. U.S. forces are guests on the base which is the home of the Honduran Air Force Academy. Soto Cano is not a U.S. installation as some media report.


The Honduras Constitution does not permit a permanent foreign presence in Honduras. A "handshake" agreement between the United States and Honduras allows JTF-Bravo to remain in Honduras on a "semi-permanent" basis. This agreement, an annex to the 1954 military assistance agreement between the United States and Honduras, can be abrogated with little notice. Soto Cano lodging for U.S. personnel there consists of “hooches” and metal barracks. The hooches are temporary wooden buildings of tropical design, normally 16 feet (4.9 m) by 32 feet (9.8 m) with screened windows and a tin roof with air conditioners and fans for cooling. Metal dormitories are more permanent structures and have air conditioning. Both contain beds and other furniture, televisions, refrigerators and microwaves.

The hooches and metal barracks have no running water. However, latrines, shower facilities and laundry rooms are centrally located to the living areas. Dayrooms, volleyball courts, barbecues and “bohios” (covered picnic areas) are also located throughout the base. All the domestic facilities, like the post office, library, dining facility, fitness center, pool and base exchange, are clustered together within a five-minute walking distance.

The apartments and dormitories would replace some of the 270 wooden hooches used for decades by permanent party personnel, but now used by permanent and temporary party personnel. Most permanent party personnel are stationed at JTF-Bravo for several months and the assignment is treated as a remote assignment, much like assignments to Republic of Korea.

Plans called for the construction to take place over the forthcoming years with all base facilities to either be new or receive major upgrades. A big improvement with new construction will be the indoor plumbing and central air conditioning in the new buildings. Currently, metal and wooden dormitories each have an air conditioning unit, but no running water. In addition, the new buildings will lessen the requirement for constant maintenance.

As of January 2008, all 44 of the apartment buildings were finished and already occupied. Additional four-unit apartment buildings, or “quads,” are scheduled to be built in 2009. When construction on the dormitories would begin remains unclear.

All military personnel live on the installation; contractors live off base on the local economy. Contractors and foreign national employees are the only personnel allowed to drive personal vehicles on base and the majority of people walk or ride bicycles. Because the base is so compact, it poses no problem getting around.

Personnel assigned to Soto Cano can ride a bus that will transport them to Soto Cano from Tegucigalpa. The bus runs in conjunction with arrival and departure times.

Civil aviation

On 1990 Honduran President Rafael Leonardo Callejas decreed that commercial cargo flights were authorized to operate from Soto Cano. In 2008 President Manuel Zelaya announced that commercial flights would begin at Palmerola within a period of 60 days, after a crash at Toncontín International Airport which resulted in 5 deaths was blamed on the runway being too short at Toncontín.. The crash was more human error, because a further investigation found the runway has nothing to do with the accident. The military was placed in charge of building a civilian air terminal with funding from the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (enabled by emergency decrees). This however was cancelled after Zelaya was removed from office on June 28, 2009 in the 2009 Honduran coup d'état.

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General Info
Country Honduras
Time UTC-6
Latitude 14.382369
14° 22' 56.53" N
Longitude -87.621161
087° 37' 16.18" W
Elevation 2061 feet
628 meters
Type Military
Magnetic Variation 001° E (01/06)
Beacon Yes
Operating Agency MILITARY
Alternate Name PALMEROLA AB
Near City Comayagua
International Clearance Status Airport of Entry

TWR 118.9
PTD 135.5
Full svc avbl 1200-2359Z.
GND 121.9
APP 125.8
Communications Remarks
APP GCA - All inbd tfc ctc GCA prior to 25 NM out.
PMSV Acft must make ctc prior to descent into Palmerola Valley.

ID Dimensions Surface PCN ILS
17/35 8008 x 148 feet
2441 x 45 meters

Type ID Name Channel Freq Distance From Field Bearing From Navaid
VORTAC ESC SOTO CANO 096X 114.9 At Field -

Fuel JP-4, Wide cut turbine fuel MIL Spec T-5624

JP-5, Keroscene MIL Spec T-5624

Jet A1, without icing nhibitor.

115/145 octane gasoline, leaded, MIL-L-5572F (PURPLE)
82lb/min (1123cfm) at 130 deg air inlet temp,45psia(min) air outlet

8,000 cu in cap, 4000psig, 15cfm

AC:115/208v,400 cycle, 3 phase, 37.5kva,0.8pf, 108 amp, 4 wire, DC: 28v, 500 amp, 14kw

A-GEAR BAK-12 not auth/certified for use by US acft.
CAUTION Due to ints stu pilot trng dur daylt hr fr the sfc to FL 190 within 20 NM, all inbd acft ctc GCA prior to 25 NM for advsy (monitor Tegucigalpa Radio/CENAMER till transferred). Ints copter act. Ovrn apch end Rwy 35 not used. 100' ditch at apch end Rwy 17 causes ldg illusion. Exer caution dur ngt flying, unlgtd poles andfences penetrating the prim and lateral apch sfc as well as the apch/dep clnc at the MEDEL copter pad. Unmrk pwr lines apch Rwy 35. Exp BWC Severe fr 1130-1230Z and 2230-2359Z due to dly migratory path. Cros DER 17 at or abv 10' AGL. Unctl road perpendicular to and 648' fr apch end Rwy 17. Class D airspace (ATZ) caution-routinely act dur non-opr hrs to support lcl asgn and Honduran AF acft; when opr w/in Soto Cano MTCA, ctc GCA, twr or Comd Post to obtain status. Nstd assault strip mrk.
JASU 2(AM32-95), 2(MC-1A), 1(MC-2A)
LGT Arpt lgt nml avbl reg arpt opr hr only. Rot bcn is non-std, it flashes civ ident. RWY 17/35 apch lgt nstd SSALR.
MISC All DoD acft ctc Soto Cano COMD POST (DUSTY OPS) 30 min out with fuel rqr, nr ofPax, cargo info to incl haz materials and any special rqr. Do not exp Honduran ATC fac to relay this info. Storage of classified materials not avail at base ops, contact Joint Ops Cntr for storage. Any unsked opr times rqr 72 hr PN. F/W acft use IFR pro due to host nation rstd. VFR pro apv on case to case basis. Tran aircrews rqr wx svc (DD 175-1 wx brief and PMSV support) notify 25 OWS at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ NLT 2 hrs prior to req brief/dep time; H24 svc avbl; PMSV rqr fone patch to 25 OWS V228-1977/2027/2138. WARRIOR OPS - HF ALE: Request database and fills from WAROPS DSN 449-6650. First 1000' Rwy 35 is concrete. GCA has single precision apch capability, dur IFR cond exp to hold with TEGUCIGALPA RDO. Req C5, C141, C17 taxi with outboard eng at idle til reaching prk or rwy. JULIET parking ramp daylight/VFR operations only. All civ acft keep doors clsd til AG inspection is completed. Twy lgts on both sides of assault strip 38' from centerline.
OPR HOURS Opr 1300-2359 wkd, clsd wkend and hol.
RSTD PPR, 48 hr exc Evac and Counterdrug, 72 hr PN rqr for haz cargo acft; ctc Base Ops DSN 449-4249/4499, fax 449-4809 and COMD POST (Dusty Ops) 449-4149. All US acft must file an outbound Flt Plan with Base OPS no later than 60 min prior to ETD: Flt Plans pre-filed thru another station shall be refiled at Base OPS. Inbd Hot Cargo ltd to 5512 lbs Net Explosive Weight (NEW). Ngt Ops are rstd to lcl flying units only fr the hrs of 0001 til 0359 Mon thru Fri.
TFC PAT R/W pat alt 2600', F/W pat alt 3100', all pat W of fld. VFR entry pt for Rwy 35 over city of La Paz at 5000'. VFR entry pt for Rwy 17 over city of Comayagua at 5000'.

The content above was published at in 2010.
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