Back to Squawk list
  • 17

Highways as Runways: Myth in the U.S., Reality Around the World [w/Videos]

One of the great urban legends is that one mile in every five of U.S. interstate highways is completely straight. The myth goes that under the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System, these straight stretches of road would be used as improvised airstrips in times of crisis or times of war. This is a definite myth, but it has certainly inspired air forces in other nations to employ the concept. ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

zennermd 3
It may be a myth, but it doesn't mean we cannot use them as such.
matt jensen 1
Thirty five years ago we practiced making landings on Nevada highways.
I recall reading at the time that the Interstate highways were built using money under the National Defense Act, otherwise the appropriations could never have passed the congress. But so many things I've learned over the years have been revealed as myth. Long live old wives tales!

Interstate highways were never envisioned for use as runways, but national security was a big part of the justification for the system - - the promulgating law was the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956. The idea was to be able to move troops and cargo between bases, ports, airfields, etc., in a timely manner. Eisenhower was a big proponent. He was heavily influenced by his experience crossing the country with an Army convoy on the relatively primitive roads of the early 1900's, and then by the efficient autobahns he saw in Germany after World War II.
John Rogers 1
Not to add to the myth, but the road from Mountain Home, Idaho out to Mountain Home AFB always seemed wider than it needed to be for the amount of traffic on the road.
Myth or not, most aircraft are capable of landing on a highway with comfort. Smart idea if we have a engine failure or something and need to find a soft spot.
selby50c 1
Myth or not, the Interstates always seem wide enough to do just that. They look wide enough (with the RoW) to accommodate a 747 or 380.
Whereas in Canada, the RoW is barely wide enough for two lanes of vehicular traffic never mind a stonking big widebody.. :-)


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.