The Malchamps airfield
The "Fagnes" at Malchamps on a 1909
postcard, showing the challenge faced by the airfield
The famous aviator Henri Farman was consulted about
construction of an airfield at Spa already in June 1908.
He advised against building an airfield on the grounds of
the Sauvenière racecourse closer to Spa and proposed
instead a field at Malchamps, on a plain of 16 hectares
near the crest of the Fagnes Spadoises, close to the
viewing tower on the border between Spa and
Francorchamps. The Hautes Fagnes was, and still is, an
uncultivated area of moorland, marshes and peat bogs,
covered by sparse trees, heather and high grass. It was
declared a nature reserve in 1957.
An elliptical surface, 1,200 meters long and 700 meters
wide, at an altitude of almost 600 meters, was cleared.
An organising committee, chaired by M. Paul Lambert,
ensured that an airfield was levelled and consolidated.
200 workers from Limburg spent three weeks felling trees
on the moor, removing their roots, burning the heather
undergrowth and draining the wetlands.
A series of hangars, 4.5 m high, 14 m wide and 13 m deep,
and a shelter for the airship "Zodiac" was
erected. To the left of the hangars grandstands with room
for 5,000 spectators were constructed over a length of
150 meters, and lawns for public were prepared at the
edges of the field. A signal tower, similar to the one
used at Reims, kept the spectators informed of what was
When a permanent airfield eventually was built in Spa the
decision about its location was reversed and it was
placed at La Sauvenière, where the racecourse had been
closed during the German occupation of WW1.
A map of the airfield. North is at four o'clock.
The map shows the original 2-kilometre course. When the
flyers inspected the course they found the two eastern
pylons dangerously close to the hangars and
grandstands. They were moved away, shortening the
course to 1,832 metres. (2)
A couple of the hangars. The Voisin in front of the
"Le Blond" hangar is probably
Sommer's Farman and one of Delagrange's
Blériots in front of the hangars. (2)
Too see more details, open the map in Google Maps by
clicking the "full screen" symbol at the top
right of the menu bar!