Okay gang, stumbled across this while doing some research for something else!
I'd always wondered about the airstrip. Now we know!
FYI, this is where the forest clean-up was held last year!
Withlacoochee Army Airfield, Lacoochee, FL
28.49 North / 82.04 West (West of Orlando, FL)
A May 6 1951 USDA aerial photo of Withlacoochee AAF (courtesy of the FL DOT, via Brian Rehwinkel).
This abandoned former military airfield is located within the present-day Witchlacoochee State Forest.
Withlacoochee AAF was used during WW2 in conjunction with Bushnell AAF as a testing site for chemical weapons.
The date of construction of the Witchlacoochee airfield is unknown.
The 1944 & 1945 Sectional Charts labeled the site of the Witchlacoochee airfield as a "Danger Area",
but did not depict an airfield there.
The date of closure of Witchlacoochee AAF is unknown,
but is was presumably abandoned at the end of WW2.
In the above aerial photo from 1951,
the field didn't show any signs of current use, but appeared abandoned already.
The Withlachoochee AAF site has been the subject of several cleanup efforts
aimed at removing any remaining traces of the chemical weapons previously tested at the site.
It is not known if the field was ever reused for civil aviation,
but that is unlikely, given the possible continued presence of chemical weapons.
The 1960 USGS topo map depicted Witchlacoochee as having a single unpaved runway, labeled "Landing Field (Abandoned)".
Cole Coon recalled, “I spent many hours hunting in the Withalacoochee State forest when I was a boy.
As late as 1968-71, we had friends land Cessna 172s on the grass strip & spend the day hunting,
or sometimes people would go for rides in the airplane.”
The airfield was depicted on the 1977 USGS topo map, labeled "Landing Strip (Abandoned)".
The airfield was no longer depicted at all (even as an abandoned airfield) on the 1998 World Aeronautical Chart.
In the 1999 USGS aerial photo,
the airfield consisted of a single 3,400' runway (which was apparently paved, as it remains clear of trees).
There were no remaining signs of any buildings or hangars.
Cole Coon recalled, “When I visited in summer 2003, the field was mostly overgrown with small pine trees,
except a small (500'?) area at the south end that was being regularly mowed.”
A 2004 photo by Daryl Naskale of the Withlachoochee airfield, from the northeast end of the strip looking southwest.
Daryl Naskale visited the site of the Withlachoochee airfield in 2004.
"The strip is covered with a thick layer of grass that is being mowed at least semi-regularly,
probably by the State Forest people.
There is an active State run fish hatchery right nearby that can be seen in the [aerial] photos.
If there ever was a paved runway, it is covered with enough dirt to support a thick layer of grass & weeds.”
The runway is located along the northwest side of North Grade Road,
one mile northeast of its intersection with Route 471.