Established in 1917 as a French Hydroplane Base with Portuguese support the Military facility of São Jacinto, has passed through many transformations during it’s life.
From 1917 to 1918 the French had the right of use of this Naval Air Station and at the end of the World War I the facility was passed to the Portuguese by the hand of the Naval Aviation of the Portuguese Navy and it was a Hydro and Air Base of the Navy until 1953, one year after the creation of the Portuguese Air Force and had been at that time transfered to the new Air Force. during the Navy years the Air Base had operating the Naval Aviation School named as Admiral Gago Coutinho in the honor of the Portuguese Admiral that along with Commander Sacadura Cabral performed the crossing of the South Atlantic from Portugal to Brasil.
The Air Base passed to the Portuguese Air Force in 1953 and continued as so until 1993 when it passed to the Portuguese Army at the time of the conversion of the paratroops from the Air Force to the Army also. During the Air Force Period São Jacinto Air Base was the base of Paratroops who saw the installation of their training facilities next to the airfield and at 1993 the air side of the base was deactivated as a military facility. With the deactivation of the air side part of the base and the conversion of the paratroops to the Army São Jacinto Air Base had his name changed to Military Area of São Jacinto until 2006 when it changed again to Infantry Regiment Nr. 10.
With the transference of the facility and deactivation of the air side in 1993 the Airfield started to have a Civil use and named as Aveiro Aerodrome.Since then the relationship between military and civil in São Jacinto as been always peaceful and with no problems at all. Until now.
In 2010 by the order of the Commanding Officer of the Infantry Regiment the use of the airfield by civilians was suspended and the Aveiro Air Club who had their aircraft based there had to remove them as quickly as possible. And so there’s the end of a story of peaceful living between the military and civilian.
The reasons presented by the Commander were that the airfield and the runway was in a need of refurbishing and the conditions of the facility were getting deteriorated, some say that this decision was taken after a C295M pilot of the Portuguese Air Force complained about the runway condition. Since that day the Aerodrome doesn’t receive any civilian aircraft and the number of military ones is very low.
The Commander was complaining about the fact of the Aveiro Mayor not investing in the facility to make it more safe to pilots, and the City Mayor complaints about the fact that he has no responsibility to the Air Base as it is an Army property with the right of civilian use.
Sad thing is that this aerodrome is really a piece of the history of Portuguese Aviation and as it started and it seems that will be destroyed in a matter of few years due to a small misunderstanding between civil and military authorities.
As military from the Navy and specialized in helicopter maintenance I had the opportunity to operate from there during the Navy Day in 2009 and it was very pleasant to operate with a Navy helicopter from such historical Base but the rough conditions were everywhere from the dormitories to the hangar that had no lightning system and was serving as a garage to the Army trucks clearly a picture that São Jacinto had lost it’s Glorious Days of Sea and Land Airplanes operated there.
I had the opportunity to land at Aveiro, LPAV, as a student pilot in 2009 and to me I think that Aveiro has all the possibilities to become one great Airfield for general aviation and even for small commercial aviation, it has a good runway and well aligned, it has an apron and space to build more if needed all it’s missing is the will to make things to benefit aviation and local tourism which I’m sure it would benefit of the aerodrome use.
Both Lynx in front of the military hangars and control tower (deactivated)
Air Club hangars and Cessna 152
Averio Airclub Cessna 152
Marks of the Air Force presence in early days
Civilian aircraft shared the apron with our two Lynx with no problem
Two Navy Lynx in the apron
Military Hangars ans deactivated control tower
Naval Aviation Monument