How Was Denver Stapleton?

Wed Jun 28, 2000 10:40 am

How was this old Denver airport? I'm told when I was two, I went to Stapleton with my mom and grandpa. But of course, I don't remember. I think that airport is haunted for some strange reason. It might be because it was half blown up, or maybe just because no one ever uses it anymore, and all of the equipment and stuff inside has nothing but dust covering it.
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RE: How Was Denver Stapleton?

Wed Jun 28, 2000 11:07 am

I loved Stapleton. It made for easy connections, and it had a lot of history. Continental, Frontier, and Denver Ports Of Call all had large maintenance facilities there. The last time I was at Stapleton was about three years ago. I sat by the barb wire fence for about four hours and tried to imagine the good old days. All of the airlines mentioned above still had their hangars standing. I wonder if they are still there?
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RE: How Was Denver Stapleton?

Wed Jun 28, 2000 11:38 am

I lived right accross the street from Stapleton for a few months in 1976 as my wife and I were in the process of moving to Denver from Reno, Nevada. I was woke up EVERY morning at 5am by a United DC-10 taking off right over my house...I think it was a training flight.

It was a great airport to watch the a matter of fact, they had rooms with theater style seating that overlooked the'd pay a dime to go thru the turnstyles and could sit there all day.

I have a picture of a Texas International DC-9 that crashed at Stapleton sometime in the late '70's.

I left Denver in 1981, haven't had the chance to go back since '83, and often wonder what their doing with Stapleton or the land it's on since Denver International opened up.
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RE: How Was Denver Stapleton?

Thu Jun 29, 2000 1:10 am

Sadly Stapleton is almost gone, there are a few buildings left which will soon be gone. I heard they plan to keep the control tower just as a symbol of the airport. The last runway is almost gone. Here is a photo taken by AirNikon from a United Airlines Airbus A319-100 of what is left of Stapleton:

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © AirNikon

"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
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RE: How Was Denver Stapleton?

Thu Jun 29, 2000 2:06 am

I was in Denver last month. The driver that picked me up from the current airport and drove me into the centre of town, took a detour past Stapleton to avoid traffic on the freeways. It was really interesting to see the remnants of the old apron and runways, and to imagine what it must have been like. Beside the runways were still a couple of the taxiing signs, and just the vague impression that this was once a very busy place. I wish I could have had the opporutnity to see Stapleton whilst it was still in operation.

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RE: How Was Denver Stapleton?

Thu Jun 29, 2000 2:41 am

I lived for fourteen years (1973-1987) near the intersection of 23rd Avenue and Monaco Boulevard in Denver, which is about a mile west-southwest from the threshold for Stapleton's runway 8R. I developed my love of airliners from watching the regular stream of arrivals on 8L and 8R, or departures on 26L/R, from my house.

In terms of proximity to aircraft movements, Stapleton was a pretty good spotters' airport. In addition to the aforementioned observer's theater (which closed in the late 1980s, well before the airport itself closed), the airfield had a number of good perimeter spots, particularly along the south side of the airfield at the approach end to 26L. The southern perimeter fence lay a mere 500 feet from 26L; on summer days you could smell the burning rubber as the aircraft touched down. The only other perimeter spot that's closer (that I know of) are the spots along the south side of Miami International. The Miami spots, however, are on the opposite side of a roadway, allowing traffic to obstruct your view. Not so at Stapleton; a number of parking lots abutted the actual perimter fence, meaning only the chain-link obstructed your view. In fact, one entrepreneur had constructed a wooden observation platform high enough to view over the fence--which the city closed after security concerns arose.

The east-west runways protuded to the east of the rest of the airfield, furthermore, such that Havana street curved around the thresholds, affording the spotter a number of good spots underneath and on the northside of the approaches as well. I even passed the time under the actual flight path of the arrivals on 26L/R, until the perimeter patrol got in the habit of moving along those who parked there.

As noted above, Stapleton was a major station for three large carriers in the 1980s--United, Continental and Frontier. All three maintained large maintenance facilities and flight kitchens. United's hanger and ramp, furthermore, abutted Quebec street. One could drive along Quebec Street, and the tails of parked UA aircraft would overhang the road. I recall seeing a variety of UA aircraft, including a number of DC-8s (-62s I believe) that UA parked for some time after their retirement.

Of course, United still maintains its pilot training facility on the grounds of Stapleton at Quebec Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

What Stapleton lacked, unfortunately, was a variety of traffic. The vast majority of movements consisted of UA, FL and CO aircraft, with regular if infrequent interruptions from the other majors. It could be frustrating. For a long time Stapleton had no regular B747 movements; for a while UA had seasonal Honolulu service with B747s, but I think that ended in the late 70s or early 80s.
Stapleton lacked international traffic as well, aside from Mexicana's B727s. The only intercontinental service, until Martinair's abortive Amsterdam service of the 1990s, was Condor's weekly charter to/from Germany. I always enjoyed the polished aluminum of Condor's DC-10s when they arrived. If you didn't catch them at the perimeter, you could snap photos from the terminal's ice cream shop, whose windows overlooked Stapleton's sole international gate (C-2).

Stapleton was the field at which I developed my love for and knowledge of commercial aircraft. While DIA is an architectural marvel, and finally has traffic volumes surpassing Stapleton at its height, I miss Stapleton's spotter-friendly layout.

David Earnest
Arlington, VA
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David Earnest

Thu Jun 29, 2000 4:01 am


Whose hangar was the big white one along Quebec Street? It sort of sits diagonally behind the Continental Hangar. It is also sort of across the road from United's Hotel. I know Frontier had the one hangar that housed their headquarters I don't mean that one. And I don't mean the hangars that sit over on the other side where Ports Of Call was. I hope you know which one I mean. Anyway, who did it belong to? Is that Aerosquadron Restaurant still there?
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Thu Jun 29, 2000 8:15 am

The big hangar you're referring to was United's. By saying "UA's hotel", do you mean the Renaissance, or the Stapleton Plaza? The 94(?)th Aero Squadron has been long gone. I believe it burned down sometime while Stapleton was still in use. That was a good place to go and eat, not so much for the food (although that was good too), but for the location along 8R-26L. That was fun!
John Hancock
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RE: How Was Denver Stapleton?

Thu Jun 29, 2000 2:49 pm

I remember flying in to stapleton about 2 months before it closed on a TWA 727. I remember when i booked the tickets i was expecting to fly into the new Denver airport but at the the time was diappointed when i had to fly into stapleton. Now that i look back on it I am glad i had the chance to visit an airport that is not with us now. It seemed when i was there to fairly busy. Who owns the land now, the city of Denver? and what are the the future development plans with the land? Also were there a lot of hotels, retail establisments, and so on that closed due to the closure of the airport. So was orginal plan just to slowly tear the place down or revive it for something and the money never showed up?


nwa man
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Thu Jun 29, 2000 3:08 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the US government turn Stapleton into a giant postal center? If so, is it still there?

Create your own luck.
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RE: DEN/Stapleton

Thu Jun 29, 2000 3:13 pm

Just found this...

Seems like there is a large long-term redevelopment for the area. Pretty ambitious.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
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RE: How Was Denver Stapleton?

Thu Jun 29, 2000 3:54 pm

Well i guess the link above answers my questions as to how much of the main airport facility is left. Not Much!!! They say all the concouses are gone along with most of the the buildings.


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RE: How Was Denver Stapleton?

Thu Jun 29, 2000 5:07 pm

I visited the Stapleton area in May 1999. Then, many building and concourses were still there. It had quite a spooky atmosphere, all empty, fenced buildings. I took a 4 Mile walk to the other side of the area, which was even more interesting; there were some scrapping-facilities there and fuselages and noses of a DC-3, Grummans, a B-52? were there ...some scary dogs too   . I even climbed into the wreckage of a crashed Aspen Convair 580 which lies besides a freeway to take pictures. Search for earlier posts about the same subject.
nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
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RE: How Was Denver Stapleton?

Thu Jun 29, 2000 8:56 pm

The move from Stapleton to DIA was quite an orchestration. The spookiest part was going to Stapleton 2 days later... lots of stuff still going on with the move, but the spookiest thing was hearing the repeating curbside announcements drone on with the abrupt absence of anyone to hear them. Sort of reminds me now of that book/movie "The Langoliers"...
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RE: How Was Denver Stapleton?

Thu Jun 29, 2000 9:26 pm

their going to still keep the tower, right? if not... we need to fight to keep at least SOMETHING of the airport..
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RE: How Was Denver Stapleton?

Fri Jun 30, 2000 12:11 am

When I visited Denver in October of 1999, I passed by the old Stapleton on the interstate. It looked to me like a lot of the buildings were still there (then again I was just passing by), but it sounds like some demolition has been done since. I was wondering what was going to be done with it, but these threads have mostly answered that question. The new airport is awesome, but still sad to see the old one fade away!  
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RE: How Was Denver Stapleton?

Mon Aug 21, 2000 9:55 am

I brought this thread out of the archieve to add to the discussion about stapleton. Take a look at the link above.