Campo dell’Oro, before aviation, was an alluvial plain at the mouth of the Gravona. The meaning of “Field of Gold” remains obscure; some 19th century authors refer to a “rich cropland”; others, to a malaria-infested marshland. A grass flying field existed there before World War II but apparently offered no transportation services, as the first regular flights to Marseillebegan with the institution of a seaplane service in 1935 from Ajaccio Harbor.
In 1940, a Vichy Air Corps unit was kept inactive at Campo dell’Oro. The liberation of Corsica began with the landing by sea in 1943 of I Corps at Ajaccio in Operation Vésuve. A few months later Fighter Group GC2/7 of the Free French Air Force, a French unit of the Royal Air Force, were operational on the grass field at Campo dell’Oro with Spitfires. Heavy aircraft were unable to land and came to mishap in the soft surface.
In 1944 the United States Army Air Forces took over the airport and put down a hard surface of perforated metallic mats from which a squadron of P-51’s flew. They defended B-24’s flying from new airfields constructed on the east coast of Corsica. Campo dell’Oro was a challenge for the larger aircraft because of its relatively short runways and proximity to the mountains. Toward the end of the war, the runways were paved, the foundation of the modern airport.