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Last Night At Stapleton - First Day At DIA  
User currently offlineCross757 From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 216 posts, RR: 0
Posted (4 years 9 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 9544 times:

Hey Everyone,

So I've been reading a lot about the history of Stapleton and the building of DIA (KDEN), and a book talks about how following the last day of operations at Stapleton, there was a massive convoy of all of the ground support vehicles out to the new DIA in the middle of the night so they would be there the next morning for the first day of operations. But I am wondering about how the transfer of aircraft took place. Research indicates that the last scheduled commercial flight to depart Stapleton was a CO DC-10 to London-Gatwick, but how about the last arriving flight into Stapleton? Once the last arriving flights landed at Stapleton, were they then flown empty to DIA in the middle of the night so they would be there for the first flights on opening day? Moving a whole fleet of vehicles is one thing, but a fleet of airplanes is totally different. Thanks!

49 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineLonghornmaniac From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 3244 posts, RR: 45
Reply 1, posted (4 years 9 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 9499 times:

I've wondered about this, too, but I was thinking more in terms of my home airport, AUS. When Mueller closed, there was a convoy of vehicles to the new airport, but what about planes? Can anybody shed some light on how airlines move planes from one airport to another? My hunch would be they do repositioning flights from the hub, and fly the planes back to the hub empty, but I dunno. It would be easier/cheaper to just ferry it from one airport to the next.

Cheers,
Cameron


User currently offlineN53614 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 239 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (4 years 9 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 9134 times:

I remember seeing a TV show about the Stapleton-"DIA" transfer, and I swear there was video of two UAL planes in formation (no pax) heading to the new DIA. Does anyone (a) remember seeing this and (b), know where I could see it?


B722 B732 B733 B734 B735 B73G B738 B739 B742 B752 B772 A320 A319 CRJ2 DHC8 E135 E140 E145
User currently offlineSA7700 From South Africa, joined Dec 2003, 3432 posts, RR: 26
Reply 3, posted (4 years 9 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 9059 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD MODERATOR

Here are some interesting information:

Last Night at Stapleton


Rgds

SA7700



When you are doing stuff that nobody has done before, there is no manual – Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs)
User currently offlineCross757 From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 216 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (4 years 9 months 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 8865 times:



Quoting N53614 (Reply 2):
I remember seeing a TV show about the Stapleton-"DIA" transfer, and I swear there was video of two UAL planes in formation (no pax) heading to the new DIA. Does anyone (a) remember seeing this and (b), know where I could see it?

I'm not sure about that, but could the video perhaps have been taken during the Denver Int'l Airshow which was held at DIA in Sept of '93? I was at the airshow, and a UA DC-10, 757, and 737 flew in formation over the show. Could that have been it?


User currently offlineAvalon2862 From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 123 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (4 years 9 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 8816 times:



Quoting Cross757 (Thread starter):
Moving a whole fleet of vehicles is one thing, but a fleet of airplanes is totally different. Thanks!

They had a similar task when they closed Kai Tak in HKG... they had to ferry a large number of aircraft (mostly CX) over to Chek Lap Kok after Kai Tak closed.

If I recall correctly, a large number of them were flown over in the middle of the night (and the ground equipment was moved via a massive road convoy)

10-15 minute repositioning/ferry flights aren't really that much of an oddity.. FedEx does it quite often (ex. FX 1557 KDCA to KIAD) but moving large numbers of aircraft a short distance is more rare.


User currently offlineCross757 From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 216 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (4 years 9 months 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 8546 times:



Quoting Avalon2862 (Reply 5):
If I recall correctly, a large number of them were flown over in the middle of the night (and the ground equipment was moved via a massive road convoy)

So is this how they did it for Stapleton/DIA, or are you referring to Kai Tak?


User currently offlineJbernie From Australia, joined Jan 2007, 880 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (4 years 9 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 8474 times:

Was DIA not open/closed up until the last flight from Stapleton left? Maybe I am asking a bit too much here... but surely they could have done the repositioning flights during the day, as aircraft A arrived and was not departing till the next day, fly it over asap and get it out of the way.

Also, it would be interesting to know if any airlines changed their schedule for the closing day... combine multiple frequences into fewer ones with larger aircraft or just spreading out the passengers over fewer flights on the same metal.

With Stapleton closed and DIA being it, was there a period of time through the night where technically there was no airport in Denver? In the sense of if an overflying aircraft needed to divert (red eye LAX-JFK) would they have diverted to a different city or was DIA online and available if needed straight away?


User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15484 posts, RR: 26
Reply 8, posted (4 years 9 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 8398 times:



Quoting Jbernie (Reply 7):
With Stapleton closed and DIA being it, was there a period of time through the night where technically there was no airport in Denver?

My guess is that there would be, if for no other reason than the period of time it would take to move the ARFF personnel and equipment. But then again, I don't know how they would have done the ferry flights though.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24080 posts, RR: 22
Reply 9, posted (4 years 9 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 8385 times:



Quoting Cross757 (Thread starter):
Moving a whole fleet of vehicles is one thing, but a fleet of airplanes is totally different.

It's actually much easier to move the aircraft than the ground equipment, much of which isn't intended for operation on public roads and can only operate at very slow speeds.


User currently offlineMidway7 From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 147 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (4 years 9 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 8344 times:

My recollection is the airlines cut back on flights during the last day of operations at Stapleton. I would imagine there was not too many RON's that night.

I remember news footage of the closing and opening of DEN, they started shutting down the runways at Stapleton midday. There was video of them putting big yellow X's on Runway 26L and it was still light out.

BK


User currently offlineDinker225 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 1057 posts, RR: 19
Reply 11, posted (4 years 9 months 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 8283 times:

On top of the GSE and airplanes, what about rental cars. Seems easy to move those. Were shuttle busses provided for people parking at the old stapleton but returning to the new DIA? Imagine the poor guy who was oblivious that stapleton was closing when he left. What a shock to return to Denver but a different airport far away from where you left your car.

Dinker



Two rules in aviation, don't hit anything and don't run out of gas, cause if you run out of gas yer gonna hit something.
User currently offlineJbernie From Australia, joined Jan 2007, 880 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (4 years 9 months 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 8211 times:



Quoting Dinker225 (Reply 11):
What a shock to return to Denver but a different airport far away from where you left your car.

just one of those massive headache projects where you keep coming up with something new every day/week... how about all the brochures/maps rental companies print out... guess they just recycle all the old ones and such... but everyone would be constantly adjusting supplies required.


User currently offlineAirframeAS From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 14150 posts, RR: 25
Reply 13, posted (4 years 9 months 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 8206 times:



Quoting Dinker225 (Reply 11):
What a shock to return to Denver but a different airport far away from where you left your car.

Oooo good point, that would have sucked. How did some of these folks manage to get their cars back 15 miles away??



A Safe Flight Begins With Quality Maintenance On The Ground.
User currently offlinePSU.DTW.SCE From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 7343 posts, RR: 28
Reply 14, posted (4 years 9 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 8150 times:

Here are some of the things I remember when they moved over to DIA:
- There were ferry flights from Stapleton over to DIA that night.
- For a short period, both airports were technically open for flights. Both airports had unique airport codes for flight planning purposes, but airlines still just used DEN for their marketing/baggage routing purposes.
- Shuttle buses ran between Stapleton and DIA for several weeks for parking, employees, moving purposes. Even today there is a near-direct RTD bus that leaves from the old Stapleton area and goes to DIA
- There was a convoy of ground equipment over to DIA the night of the transition. Airlines moves a bunch of stuff over in the days prior for non-essential equipment. A lot of the airline stuff was brand-new at DIA and other a lot of Stapleton was junked.
- Rental cars were staged at the new location, moved by employees, but that quickly balanced out as rentals were returned at the new facilities at DIA to get cars over there.


User currently offlineAirframeAS From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 14150 posts, RR: 25
Reply 15, posted (4 years 9 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 8113 times:



Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 14):
Both airports had unique airport codes for flight planning purposes

What codes were used? DEN and DIA?



A Safe Flight Begins With Quality Maintenance On The Ground.
User currently offlineF9fan From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 695 posts, RR: 3
Reply 16, posted (4 years 9 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 8044 times:



Quoting Midway7 (Reply 10):
My recollection is the airlines cut back on flights during the last day of operations at Stapleton. I would imagine there was not too many RON's that night.

Mine too.

Quoting Midway7 (Reply 10):

I remember news footage of the closing and opening of DEN, they started shutting down the runways at Stapleton midday. There was video of them putting big yellow X's on Runway 26L and it was still light out.

I remember it started snowing late in the evening/early the next morning, so they had to get the painting done before the runways got wet.

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 14):
Here are some of the things I remember when they moved over to DIA:
- There were ferry flights from Stapleton over to DIA that night.
- For a short period, both airports were technically open for flights. Both airports had unique airport codes for flight planning purposes, but airlines still just used DEN for their marketing/baggage routing purposes.
- Shuttle buses ran between Stapleton and DIA for several weeks for parking, employees, moving purposes. Even today there is a near-direct RTD bus that leaves from the old Stapleton area and goes to DIA

Correct. I believe the old parking garage is still in tact and being used as a park-n-ride lot. Currently RTD Route AS runs every 15 minutes from Stapleton between 3:00 am and 8:30 am, and 11:30 am and 3:30 pm, and every 30 minutes all other times except between midningt and 3:00 am (when it doesn't run).

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 14):
- There was a convoy of ground equipment over to DIA the night of the transition. Airlines moves a bunch of stuff over in the days prior for non-essential equipment. A lot of the airline stuff was brand-new at DIA and other a lot of Stapleton was junked.

I remember seeing CNN cover the move live. They had a crew on 56th Avenue showing some of the equipment coming out of the north end of Stapleton.

Quoting AirframeAS (Reply 15):
What codes were used? DEN and DIA?

Denver International Airport used DVX until it opened.

I remember the first flight to the new DEN was a special UA flight from COS. It was cold and snowy when they got to the new DEN, and the gate froze, so they had to move gates. The first flight out of the new DEN was a UA flight to MCI, IIRC.

Since the airport was very delayed, David Letterman had all kinds of fun with footage of the new airport.


User currently offlineCross757 From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 216 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (4 years 9 months 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 7755 times:

And now, if it weren't for the old control tower and perhaps the UA flight training center, a person would perhaps never know a great airport was once there. Not much left of the old Stapleton now.

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 14):
Here are some of the things I remember when they moved over to DIA:
- There were ferry flights from Stapleton over to DIA that night.

Thanks for the info...anybody get any pictures?

Quoting SA7700 (Reply 3):
Here are some interesting information:

That was a nice link...I noticed in one of the pictures there is a small group of people standing on the ramp, possibly to wave goodbye to the last flight out.

I was lucky enough to fly through Stapleton in early Jan of 1995, less than two months before it closed. It was a night flight from BOI-DEN-ABQ, and I remember the B concourse being somewhat empty.


User currently offlineLincoln From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 3887 posts, RR: 8
Reply 18, posted (4 years 9 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 7680 times:



Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 9):
It's actually much easier to move the aircraft than the ground equipment, much of which isn't intended for operation on public roads and can only operate at very slow speeds

I'm having a hard time imagining a convoy of belt loaders passing by on the street... on the other hand, based on some of the baggage tugs I've seen go by on the ramp they could make good speed, even on the highway  Smile

Anyone have any pictures of the convoy?



CO Is My Airline of Choice || Baggage Claim is an airline's last chance to disappoint a customer || Next flts in profile
User currently offlineAirframeAS From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 14150 posts, RR: 25
Reply 19, posted (4 years 9 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 7662 times:



Quoting F9fan (Reply 16):
Denver International Airport used DVX until it opened.

They should have kept that airport code!



A Safe Flight Begins With Quality Maintenance On The Ground.
User currently offlineJbernie From Australia, joined Jan 2007, 880 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (4 years 9 months 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 7486 times:



Quoting Lincoln (Reply 18):
I'm having a hard time imagining a convoy of belt loaders passing by on the street... on the other hand, based on some of the baggage tugs I've seen go by on the ramp they could make good speed, even on the highway

they probably only had to do 2 or 3 miles on I-70 before getting to Pena Blvd and then there wouldn't be any other traffic to deal with.


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6265 posts, RR: 3
Reply 21, posted (4 years 9 months 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 7477 times:



Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 14):
- For a short period, both airports were technically open for flights. Both airports had unique airport codes for flight planning purposes, but airlines still just used DEN for their marketing/baggage routing purposes.

I could have sworn I saw a Denver sectional from that time period that showed Stapleton in magenta (i.e. uncontrolled field...). Wasn't it briefly open for GA ops only before the field was closed for good?



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineSA7700 From South Africa, joined Dec 2003, 3432 posts, RR: 26
Reply 22, posted (4 years 9 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 7451 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD MODERATOR

Another link to follow the history of Stapleton. Some great photos.... Abandoned Airfields



Rgds

SA7700



When you are doing stuff that nobody has done before, there is no manual – Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs)
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (4 years 9 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 7422 times:



Quoting F9fan (Reply 16):
Since the airport was very delayed, David Letterman had all kinds of fun with footage of the new airport.

During the period that DIA's opening was delayed, somebody crashed their small Cessna on the White House grounds. This gave rise to the joke:

What's the difference between the new DIA and the White House?

They're taking arrivals at the White House...


User currently offlineUAL747DEN From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 2392 posts, RR: 12
Reply 24, posted (4 years 9 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 7416 times:

Moving the aircraft was about the neatest thing I have ever been a part of!

I was young at the time but got to hang out with everyone since my dad was an executive at UA. I remember the planes being paced with all the junk you could imagine and then we would take off and a few minuets later we would land at DIA and unload everything at the gate before jumping in a bus and doing it again. This lasted all night long, plane after plane loaded with EVERYTHING you could imagine took off landed and was unloaded.

Quoting F9fan (Reply 16):
I remember the first flight to the new DEN was a special UA flight from COS. It was cold and snowy when they got to the new DEN, and the gate froze, so they had to move gates. The first flight out of the new DEN was a UA flight to MCI, IIRC.

The first plane to land at DIA after it was opened "officially" for traffic was a Lear jet and it is hanging from the ceiling at DIA today. It is one of my favorite things about the airport! How many other airports have an actual jet of that size hanging right above your head? You can even reach up and touch the thing if you are tall enough. (Im 6'1 and can reach it just fine)



/// UNITED AIRLINES
25 Flashmeister : Actually, according to the 1985 annexation agreement between the City & County of Denver and Adams County, Denver was required to immediately close S
26 OPNLguy : Didn't a couple airlines run into delays in getting their hangar-bound aircraft put back together until after Stapleton officially shutdown, and had
27 Mcg : The requirement to immediatly close Stapleton came from United's lease at DIA. United didn't want Stapleton to become a secondary airport ala MDW, DA
28 Dsuairptman : That kept WN out of the DEN market for over a decade...
29 F9fan : They didn't need to use I-70 at all. 56th Avenue was just north of runway 35R, and it was easily accessable. Perhaps they used it as reference since
30 Cross757 : Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but it was the poor layout of Stapleton and the massive associated delays that did not let SWA maintain their
31 OPNLguy : I don't know about the user fees or the eventual total closure of Stapleton were the issues that some people claim (doubt it) but you hit the nail on
32 Cross757 : I apologize...I realize I may have misunderstood what you meant. You meant that AFTER SWA left Stapleton, they stayed out of the DEN market for 10 mo
33 MtnWest1979 : Same way SGF did with new terminal opening. Ran shuttles between the airport and old lots til they were empty.
34 Jsnww81 : From what I've read, the north-south runway separation was one of the major nails in Stapleton's coffin. On both of my flights into Stapleton (in 199
35 OPNLguy : That would have been 26L/R, and I believe you're correct, their separation was a tad less than 35L/R.
36 Post contains images UAL747DEN : Its on the C Concourse. Here is some info I was able to find about it: "A Learjet 35A, once owned by cable-television magnate Bill Daniels, is suspen
37 CrimsonNL : I love the old photo's of stapleton, seems like it was a real busy aiport judging by the amount of aircraft at the gates. I love DIA, I've been there
38 Post contains links RyDawg82 : As always, one of the best websites for Stapleton photos and memories: http://aviationphotographs.net/StapletonAirport/stapletonairport.html Ryan
39 Cross757 : Considering that DIA opened at the end of Feb 1995, how did they get the Learjet into the concourse C atrium if it was flying as late at 1996? Did th
40 Type-Rated : I think the MDW Airport Authority did this too in the name of security when they opened the new terminal there. Seems that having passengers looking
41 AirFrnt : DEN = Stapleton DVX = DIA It was actually also a condition of the bond holders. It was the mess up in Montreal Mirabel that was the thinking behind t
42 Gigneil : Is that true? IIRC, they precipitously closed one and moved to the other - there weren't planes arriving/departing both simultaneously. Not to mentio
43 PSU.DTW.SCE : Excellent thread, lots of good stuff from the past, keep it coming! Yes, both airports were technically open for a very brief period on the day of the
44 N104UA : There is a Video of it I have it (VHS) of the move and they did ferry flights but I did not see any in formation and I also have the pic of the DC-10
45 AirframeAS : Ok...who is right??
46 Viscount724 : To the best of my recollection, DIA was never assigned as an IATA code.
47 WTXJET : From the link in post 22: Yellow "X"'s were placed across all Stapleton runways to keep aircraft from landing at the now-closed airport. DIA dropped D
48 AirframeAS : They should have kept DVX anyway....
49 F9fan : You are correct. I remember being stuck in traffic on I-70 during a snowstorm and watching the ILS lights turn on and off for 35R while planes were c
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