October 5, 2014
LAST FALL, I was there as the last known supply of ZMapp, an experimental Ebola drug, arrived at Roberts Field in Liberia. Below are some photographs from that day, as well as some earlier shots taken on and around the airport.
Formally known as Roberts International Airport (ROB), the field was built by the United States government during World War Two. Later the field was managed by Pan Am, which operated something of a mini-hub there, with flights from New York continuing on to Accra, Lagos, Johannesburg and Nairobi, among other places. Pan Am crews would layover at a hotel directly across the street from the terminal. Pan Am left Africa in 1991, and both the hotel and the terminal were destroyed during Liberia’s brutal civil war, which ended only recently. The Chinese are building a new hotel in the same spot, though construction has halted.
Even when the Ebola virus isn’t wreaking havoc, there’s limited scheduled traffic at ROB. The airport is cluttered with United Nations helicopters, and a Russian-crewed 737 shuttles regularly between ROB and Accra, Ghana, carrying soldiers, staff and Liberian citizens returning home. At the moment most of the U.N. personnel stationed at ROB are from Ukraine and Algeria.
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS BY PATRICK SMITH