Pearls Airport, Grenada – Uncommon Cold War History Attraction
Vestiges of foreign government influence are quite prevalent throughout the Caribbean. Most of them, though, are rooted firmly in the region’s formative colonial era. France, the UK, Spain, Denmark, and the Netherlands left the most lasting imprints, of course. Look closely along your travels, though, and you’ll find that Portugal, Germany, and even Sweden staked claims in the region way back when. Even less common, at least outside of Cuba, are any signs of the former Soviet Union. This fact makes Pearls Airport in Grenada uncommonly unique.
Grenada’s first airport, Pearls is located along the northeast coast two miles from Grenville, the island’s second largest town. The facility was decommissioned long ago…and it shows. Primary arrivals and departures here consist of grazing cows and goats, plus a few aviation and Cold War history buffs.
Cold War Battleground
Remember when the U.S. Military invaded Grenada back in 1983? A major impetus for the incursion was the construction of Grenada’s current airport, Maurice Bishop International. Cuba and the Soviet Union were largely spearheading the project. Uncle Sam didn’t like that, of course. So, as supplies and personnel from Cuba were ferried into Grenada at Pearls, the old airfield became a primary target for the invading U.S. forces.
Old planes, like the Cubana Airlines passenger aircraft pictured above, evidence the Cold War history of the area. So too does this Soviet crop duster with “CCCP” still barely visible on the fuselage…
Locals I spoke to upon visiting Pearls told me both planes were damaged in the invasion. They’ve sat here rotting ever since.
In addition to making unique photo-ops, the old aircraft are interesting to explore both inside and out…
Multi-purpose Pearls Airport
Grazing area and Cold War museum aren’t the only attractions at Pearls. Grenada law enforcement maintains a base here. Drag racing competitions are held here too. (See videos here.) The runway also makes a good shortcut for those traveling between Grenville and the River Antoine Distillery just a few minutes north…
Old wounds remain fresh with some locals over the U.S. invasion, as do the cow patties around the decaying aircraft. You’ll want to be careful about both when visiting here.
Pearls Airport is definitely worth checking out, though, for the small window it provides to a different time.