Lat 13° 14' 18S Long 176° 11' 57W Hihifo Airfield is located on the northern coast of Wallis Island (Uvea). Also known as "Hi-hifo" or "Wallis Airport".
US Navy Seabees first began constructing this airfield on a low plateau, made
of volcanic ash and clay, covered by light bush. Work
was delayed due to lack of heavy construction equipment. Designed for heavy
bombers, a single runway 6,000' x 250' surfaced with crushed rock with completed
by October 1942. Taxiways, revetments, hangars, machine shop, underground
magazines and a 25,000 gallon aviation fuel tank.
During 1967, Hihifo Airfield was lengthened and repaired.
D. J. Sassoon-Gubbay adds:
"The Civil Engineering Construction Group, of which I was the Founder and CEO, was the designated tenderer to reconstruct this airport and lenghten it . This was to make it suitable for commercial, and at the time, as a diversion airport. Same to be eventually used by the French Forces cargo aircrafts for the Atomic test of French Polynesia - all other airports then being unfriendly to France. The work was executed for the Ministry of Civil Aviation (Service de l'Infrastructure ) based in New-Caledonia. The Construction Company was D.J.Gubbay & Co (NH) Pty. Ltd. based at Port-Vila, New-Hebrides (now Vanuatu). The main work consisted in using (for the first time in the Pacific) what is known as "corral soup". These sedimentary "oozy sands" found in the Mata-Utu lagoons were dredged. Then transported and placed to form the new foundation. Heavily saturated and constantly sprayed with sea-water thus aiding in the compaction, the salt contents , over the years , have solidified in a remarkably durable way. The foundation was then covered with a hot mix using the crushed basaltic rocks found on the island."
Still in use today as the only airport on Wallis. Airport code: WLS.
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April 7, 2020