Puig Major

Puig Major, also sometimes called Puig Major de Son Torrella, is Mallorca’s highest mountain with a height of 1,445 m, and is the crowning summit in the Serra de Tramuntana. The top of this mountain is off limits as a military zone. Thus, the neighboring peak at Puig de Massanella is considered Mallorca’s highest accessible peak (1,364 m). Special permission for mountaineers to have access to the peak of Puig Major is sometimes granted, though, upon application from the Acuartelamiento Aéreo Puig Major (Air Barracks) by telephone (971.637.000). Permission procedures may take a few days, however, but patience may be rewarded.

The building seen on top of Puig Major is a military radar tower, built and installed by the Americans in 1958. Some considerable secrecy is involved as to the nature of the military installations and whether responsibility rests with the Spanish and/or the US Forces. Perhaps you know more than I do.

In 1934, plans were drawn up to build a funicular up to the top of Puig Major. As far as I know, the platform for the bottom station was built and is in place to this day. Further construction was halted though, first because of the Guerra Civil, and later, on Franco’s orders. At that time, the military installation did not yet exist. After 1958, a road was built leading up to the radar tower, and the need for a cable car construction became obsolete.

The photo (top) was taken near Alaró, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 17th, 2010. The time was 13:37:22. The aerial photo (centre) was taken from the Internet, thanks to Wikipedia. The photo (bottom) was also taken from the Internet. My thanks go to diariodemallorca.es.

Puig Major

87 thoughts on “Puig Major

  1. Just seen your blog about the Puig Major. This piece of real-estate provides the most stunning views possible of Mallorca and as a military area it is prohibited access. There should be a campaign to free it from the grasp of the military given that nowadays methinks it is not a huge secret.
    It was sited there by the Americans as it gives a radar picture from Gibraltar to Malta which was no doubt useful years ago. Today satellites do it better.
    However I’m not suggesting pulling down the domes, let them have their space but let us – the people – have access to this fantastic mountain top.
    In the many years I have lived here I have been amazed at the apparent lack of action, better said acquiescence, of the population who are being denied access to one of the most wonderful parts of their island.
    Does anyone else feel the same way ?

  2. Steve Cooke says:

    I agree that Puig Major is a fantastic place. I think that almost all the people with a wish to see this island would like to take a trip to the top once in their time here. New plans could be drawn up to build a funicular up to the top of Puig Major and a bit of old ski lift equipment from mainland Spain or France would fit the bill. This could be a great draw and make some money for the investers and the island. Not all people wish to go in the caves but even if they do like to visit the caves and other attractions this trip to the top would be high on the list of things to do. Going in a car to the top is not easy for some drivers and I think that coach tours would like a venue at the base of the funicular, with good parking, shops and cafe etc. The idea from the past may work in todays market.

  3. Craig says:

    Agree totally with the above comments. It is a travesty that the highest peak on the island is off limits. High time there was a campaign to open it up.

  4. Frank says:

    I had the pleasure of being stationed at Puig Major from 1959-1962 with the USAF. I helped install the radars, a search and a heightfinder. I lived in Palma during the time and commuted to the radar site in a 1959 Renault Dauphine. I’d like to return some day and visit the site.

    1. Hi Frank,
      The radar you installed must be as old as the Renault Dauphire and there are very few of those old cars still working. I lived in England and studied design at art school in the 60’s. One day in 1965 I missed the bus to and so I hitched a lift to the school. The man who helped me was driving a new Renault Dauphine. The car was so fresh and new it was great to have a lift and I can still recall the man showing me how fast it would take the corners. He made a good pitch for the car and told me about the new design ideas in the construction. He also told me that he was the UK manager for Renault Dauphines.The light monocock construction made the car’s power to weight ratio good and the climb up the Puig Major must have been good fun.
      Frank if you need a lift to visit the site, I will be pleased to offer one but it won’t be in a Dauphine.

  5. Frank says:

    Hi Steve,

    I paid $850 for the Renault in 1959 and sold it for $450 in 1962. Going up the mountain, I had to double-clutch to get the car down to 1st gear. (did not have synchromesh transmission) Somehow the car provided good service for the 3 years I spent in Spain!

    1. Hi Frank,$400 for three years motoring, fantastic! That’s the good old days and also the lost art of double de clutch, the young would think that’s a ‘Rap group’. Some local motoring clubs may what to run a ‘hill climb’ up the Puig Major , now that would be something to go to see or watch on the television. One class of car could be the ‘Dauphine Class’. Then, may be, you could give out the prizes. Have a nice day.

  6. Pedro says:

    Frank,
    I am currently working on a newspaper article about the Puig major and the americans who were there stationed. Could you please let me now your e-mail address?
    Thanks!

  7. John Fourcade says:

    I lived in Mallorca from 1963 – 71 (civilian), met several of the guys stationed at Puig Major. Does anyone recall Carl Head? His is the only name that I recall.

    1. Stan Zielinski says:

      I recall Carl Head. I was stationed there from Jan ’70 to Sep ’71. We worked together on the communications equipment. It was the best time I had when I was in the Air Force.

  8. Stuart Randall says:

    I as a military brat in 1960 dad was USAF staioned in Londondon South Ruislip. he went on TDY to Puig Major. Mom and i went to Mallorca summer of 60. Spent few days in Soller.
    Now retired i live in Port de Soller have a fried in spanish Military and visit the old base once a month.
    Anyone coming on visit let me know

    Stu Randall

    1. Mckinley Thompson says:

      Stu,
      I too was a part of the Americans that worked at the Puig Major site. I was Air Force enlisted stationed there from 1982-83. I worked in the Power Plant and ven, though I was only 18, had a part time duty to manage the Air Force liquor store on site. I remember American retirees living in the area that would come onto the site monthly to purchase their liquor and beer rations. They had ration cards, but I always tried to avoid punching them.
      Just curious if you might be aware of any other retired Puig Major troops living in the area? I know in the mid 80’s my military supervisor (James Wharton) operated a bar in Palma with his British girlfriend. My other NCO (Anthony Trubiani) had an Austrian girl friend that used to live outside Deya. Nice girl, but I always remember she had a human skull on her night stand. She also lived in one half of a villa on the hill with the other half being lived in by a “retired” German U-Boat Captain.
      When I was there, the CC was Capt Roderick (until he got into trouble) then Capt Thad Brumfield replaced him. Our Boeing contractors were headed by Mr Joe Bowmeister(sp).
      A lot of good memories!
      Please let me know if there are any others (like yourself) in the area. My wife and I will be staying in Soller next week and I would hate to visit and then find out I knew some people there.
      Take care,
      McKinley (Mac) Thompson
      Denver
      mckinleythompson at aol.com

      1. Gordon DeVos says:

        Mac.. Don’t know if you remember me but I was also stationed at Soller (83-85). Tropo troop… I knew all those you mentioned above. Joe was actually a Govie AFTS guy… met him in 1974 on my first assignment at the Piug. He traveled between the Islands and Inojes (Zaragoza). Some great times while stationed there….
        Gordon

    2. Pedro Vidal says:

      Stu,
      I live in Esporles, Mallorca. I’m working on a book about the Puig Major, specially when the USAF was there. I would like to have some information about the USAF men assigned to the base did in Soller, how they live, where they go …
      Please e-mail me at: Pvidal_terrasa@yahoo.es
      Thank you!
      Pedro

      1. Alan Collett says:

        Pedro,

        Do you know anything of a competitive Hill Climb for cars run at Puig Major in 1965? I have a photo of an Iso Rivolta there, and it must have been a rare car on the Island

        Alan

    3. Pedro Vidal says:

      Stu,
      I live in Esporles, Mallorca. I’m working on a book about the Puig Major, specially when the USAF was there. I would like to have some information about the USAF men assigned to the base did in Soller, how they live, where they go …
      Please e-mail me at: Pvidal_terrasa (at) yahoo.es
      Thank you!
      Pedro

  9. Joe Misiewicz says:

    Mac,
    I was stationed at the Puig from Feb 80 – Jun 82. Jim Wharton was my supervisor as well. I tried to extend my enlistment but Capt Roderick wouldn’t approve it. I wound up in the 5th MOB, Georgia. I’d go back there in a heart beat.
    Joe

    1. McKinley (Mac) Thompson says:

      Hey Joe,
      glad to hear from someone that was there during the same time as me. 1982 was a rough year for us at Puig Major. Once Roderick was relieved of command for sleeping on Port of Soller trolley tracks and getting locked up overnight, Capt Thad Brumfield came onboard later that year…… Oddly enough, Pedro recently located (ret) Col Brumfield.
      I too ended up in both the 1st and 5th Combat Comm units after assignments to McConnell AFB and Martina Franca, IT (another TRC-97 site).
      Recent visit to Mallorca was awesome and the tour Pedro arranged to the Compound and even to the Spanish Radar Station up top was as if time had not changed at all.
      Take care, and please help Pedro anyway you can to get his book about (us) to get published. I also would enjoy to see any photos you might locate of your time there.
      Mac
      mckinleythompson@aol.com

  10. Joe Misiewicz says:

    Mac,

    I rec’d an email from Pedro and told him I’d help him out if I could. I have to dig for some old photos. Did you happen to know a Jaime Ladebushe (sp?) He retired there in Soller. How about Ssgt Chuck Smith (Smitty)? Really good people. I remember a lot of faces from the site but not too many names to go with them. Did you ever meet Roger, a Spanish Sgt ? He was quite the character.

    When were you in the 5th Mob? I was there 82-83 and 89-99 when I retired.

    Joe

  11. Ralph Holsclaw says:

    I too am a military brat, My dad was stationed there from 4-60 to 4-63. He was MSsgt James W. Holsclaw. We lived in Cala Major, he would drive there or take train to Soller sometimes. I have been back to the island in 04. But did not have enough time to do or see everything. I had been to the base on the Puig Major but not the radar dome, off limits to kids & family. I have been trying to find info on the school that was started in 1960 for kids of the service men stationed there. Thanks for time.
    Ralph.

  12. Frank says:

    Does anyone out there in Mallorca know where a town of Palermo, Mallorca, Spain is located if there is such a town?

    Does anyone know of a Tolo Cabot or Stephen Lee Cabot or where they are?

    Frank S Trimper

    1. mallorcaphotoblog says:

      Hi Frank,
      there is no place called Palermo anywhere in Mallorca or on the archipelago of the Islas Baleares. Perhaps you mean to say Palma de Mallorca?

  13. Was TDY in 71 after Nam at Puig Major, now living in Port de Soller. In 60 was military brat attended LCH Bushy Park, funny my Dad also went TDY to Puig Major in 60, we came over for summer vacation. still few guys living locally who served.
    Stu/Dt Rock

  14. Joe Misiewicz says:

    Pedro,

    I knew Mr Lozano when I was at the Puig 80-82. Do you have an email address or some way for me to contact him.
    I.d appreciate it.

    Thanks,

    Joe

  15. Gordon DeVos says:

    I was stationed at Soller RRL from 1974 till May 1976 and returned in Jun 83 until Oct 1985. My father-in-law (yep married a lady from Soller) was one of the original builders of the Contonment area shared by the Spainish Military and American Forces (USAF) at the base of Puig. Ovi and I go back 37 yrs years, Basic training, Tech School, and both had assigments to Soller in ’74.

    1. GARY MIRES says:

      I do not do Facebook but one of my Grandchildren sent me a Gordon Devos post. I was there also at the same time with Gordon, Ovi, Mac, Whiskey, and all the others. I stayed in for 4 years and got out but those were great times. My career after college has taken me around the world living in several countries but those were magical times. I am presently living in Starnberg, Germany doing consultant work on Medical Laser Systems until this summer. I will be going to Soller this summer to walk down memory lane again. I may or not stay a few months but if anyone will be there at this time that remembers me please send me an email.

      Gary and Kathy Mires, still together 41 years later.

  16. Frank says:

    I recently discovered that my son, Stephen, lives and works in Palma. He was taken to Spain 48 years ago by my ex-wife, Monta Rhea. They simply disappeared. Stephen and I will be reunited soon as I plan to travel to Mallorca within the nest several weeks.

  17. Steve Lewandowski says:

    Seen some familiar names from the Puig. Ovi, Jaime, Jim, Joe. Yes, I remember Roger the Spanish Sgt.
    I have many pics of the site but all are on slides.

    1. Pedro Vidal says:

      Steve,

      Could you please let me know your e-mail? I live in Mallorca and I am writing a book about the history of the Puig Major and the USAF.
      Thanks!

      Pedro.

      1. Steve Lewandowski says:

        Pedro,

        What is your connection with the site at thr Puig?
        I was stationed there DEC 79 to MAR 81.
        My first shift on duty at the top site was an experience, big snowstorm hit.

      2. Pedro Vidal says:

        Steve,

        I am a teacher in a Primary school in Palma.I know some vets from Puig MAjor: Jonathan French, Ovidio Lozano,Mc Kinley Thompson, Bud Isel.I am working in a photo bookabout the Puig MAjor from the early 50´s to nowadays.I´ben in the site several times and I do remember the snowfall because many people told me that( in the cantonement area there were some damages: the spanish motor pool and the sports pavillion had their roofs down).Just wanted to share pictures and information with you so I asked the e-mail.
        Mine is: pvidal_terrasa@yahoo.es

        Pedro

  18. David Norman says:

    Pedro,
    I was the Air Force Commander at the site from March 1977 – June 1978 and Ovideo Lozano worked for me during that time. Also, Joe Baumeister was the contract civilian who worked as the technical adviser for the radio systems. In addition to the snow storm mentioned above, we had a terrible storm in early 1978 that completely destroyed the roof of the gymnasium and did significant damage to the motor pool area. Several of our vehicles were damaged in the motor pool. However, Puig Major was a great place to be assigned and I have a lot of good memories about my time there.

    1. Darlene Murphy says:

      David :o)
      So glad to have found you after all these years! We crossed the switchbacks one night, on the way to Palma. There were four of us traveling together. Awestruck, we stood on the side of the road and saw…………
      A most interesting encounter!!!
      Please e-mail me @ djjmckee@gmail.com
      by the by, Bill Ronk III and I were married a few months after you left. Smitty may still be on the island today. I’d love to hear from you,

      Darlene

    2. Steve Sylvester says:

      I was stationed there with Capt. Norman. I worked with Lozano, and Joe Baumeister. I was working at the site when the snow collapsed the buildings. We were snowed in for days. Good thing we had rations up there. We got stuck up there the following winter when the snow took out the power for the Cantonment area. I extended my tour there from Oct 77 to Aug 79.

  19. Gordon says:

    I have photos from the annual Softball game between the Det @ Menorca and and Det @ Mallorca… Should also have pictures of the site and personnel.

  20. Matt says:

    Pedro, Hi – my name is Matt and I was the civilian in charge of the base at the time it was privately contracted. I negotiated the final treaty, turning the main property over to the Spanish. I even have some original plates and dishes from the cafeteria that the Spanish didn’t want. I worked for PA&E at the time. 1990-92. I’m looking to visit in the near future to see if it would be possible to negotiate an agreement for an American University to use the main compound for a study abroad mini campus.

  21. Matthew Bowman says:

    I was stationed there from 64 to 66 and got out there. Remember Bar Sirocco and Noreen. What a great lady. Sgt BJ Cliff was my boss. Don’t remember the names of my mates but lately I have been going back every year as my best friend Ramon Rullan is from Soller. It was without a doubt the best time of my life. I do remember Sgt Goucker because he sucker punched me one night when we were drunk in Plaza Gomila. Was in Mallorca last summer, too crowded now, too many cars and Germans. I have some pictures but not many.

      1. Mike Truelove says:

        Pedro, I sent you a link to some pictures. Email me again if you have any problem downloading. Mike Truelove

  22. McKinley Thompson says:

    Hey Mike, you were my super in the Power plant from 1982-4. Great memories. I have corresponded with Pedro for 2-3 yrs and was very humbled that he arranged for me and my wife to get a one-on-one tour of DET 3 compound and also up to the Radar station on top of the Puig. The compound still looked about the same as it did during my tour there. Did you stay in England or are you back in States?

    1. Bobby F. says:

      Hey there, was a Power Pro Ranger stationed at the Puig back in 1987. In fact, I was amoung the last 13 Air Force troops stationed there, I helped train the civilian powerplant operators back in day.. (never forget those 4 White Superiors).. Smitty was my boss. Did we have fun???? Need I say more??!! We were a wild bunch to say the least. Did tours in the 5th and 2 Mob, Bitburg and a bunch of other tours, I am now retired. To this day I remember the parties in Soller and Palma…… una cerveza mas por favor!!!!
      Best regards to everybody stationed there.
      Bobby F.

    1. Jonathan French says:

      Arnie… just saw this page and your post. I retired out of Aviano in 2005 and have been roughing it here in Soller since. Hopefully you will see this soon and wishing all is well.

    1. Jonathan French says:

      Bobby Falto… happy that you remember my name! No need to single me out on lost love. Once the other NCOs figured out who was Billy Bob’s eyes and ears… your life became a little bit harder (I can’t take all the credit). The people I didn’t like knew it face-to-face… never gave ’em the back door in the commander’s office. Reflect on it and I hope you find peace some day…

      1. Bobbyf says:

        Hey there French, I just knew I would see your post one day in revenge, you are so predictable. Glad to know after 20 plus years I can still tick you off just like the old days, you were always easy pray. I can post stuff about you but This is not the proper place and I want to keep it clean. Live long and prosper. Baby Huey.

  23. David B Andrew says:

    Hi,
    I am hoping that somebody can help. I will be arriving in Palma on the 13th October 2013 for 4 days and would like to have permission from the American or Spanish military to gain access to the top of Puig Major. I would appreciate any information regarding who I need to ask for permission any also any contact numbers you might have email or direct phone numbers. Many Thanks.
    David B Andrew

    1. mallorcaphotoblog says:

      hi David,
      special permission for access to the peak of Puig Major is sometimes granted. Apply to the Acuartelamiento Aéreo Puig Major (Air Barracks) by telephone (971.637.030). Permission procedures may take a few days but patience may be rewarded. I’m not sure that a conversation in English will be accepted.

  24. David B Andrew says:

    Many Thanks for your reply mallorcaphotoblog and the information , I will ring Aero Puig Major and in my very best Spanish ask what the procedures are to get permission . Many Thanks Again . David B Andrew ( Manchester England)

  25. David B Andrew says:

    Hi Pedro Vidal , My name is David B Andrew I live in the United Kingdom but have a home near Porto Cristo , I will be over in Mallorca 13th October till the 16th October and whilst there will be calling at the military Reception at the Puig to ask for permission to access the top of the Puig Major , I will be travelling with 3 friends who recently completed the hike up to Massenella and the trek through the Torrent De Pareis , so hoping we can complete the 3 best treks on the island . Pedro could you please advise us if at all there is a reception at the base of the Puig where we can speak with somebody or do we have to approach an official office in Palma and wait for permission to be granted , we would appreciate any information you could give us , I noticed that you were also stationed at the Puig Dec 79 to March 81 and that on your first duty experienced a massive snow storm ,that must of been incredible I also appreciate that in that part of the island they can experience some freak weather especially around the torrent de pareis with floods etc , well hopefully you can help us with some information , and all the best for your book on the Puig and American servicemen that were stationed there. All the best David B Andrew

  26. david warren says:

    I visited Majorca as a tourist in 1964 and stayed in Hotel La Gala in Can Pastilla. Back then it was a small village with no beach. Walking out the town towards El Arenal you soon came to an area with no buildings whatsoever, except for a huge radio station. No hotels or private houses, just a beach with the radio station just off the beach area. I was told that the station was built and run by Americans.

    1. David, I think the radio station you refer to was run by Palma Radio as part of their maritime service, ie ship to shore communications for merchant vessels.The aerials were pulled down when the area was redeveloped in the 1980`s I think.
      The Americans were of course on top of the Puig but not on the coast.

    1. mallorcaphotoblog says:

      Yes, Kevin, one can obtain a military permit for access on foot to the top of Puig Major but I doubt very much that you will be allowed to take your bike up there. There is no harm in trying, though.
      Greetings,
      Klaus

  27. Joe Misiewicz says:

    Does anyone have a contact number or email address for Ovidio Lozano. I was at the Puig from Feb 81- Jun 82

  28. Rich Stock says:

    I was stationed at Soller AFS from 1962 tp 1964. What a great view. Loved every minute. Three of us (Ron Short, Lee Trevino, not the golfer and myself) had villa in the Port of Soller.

  29. bud isel says:

    My name Bud Isel. Station at 880th AC&W Squadron, Puig Major Nov 1959 to Dec 1963. Had apartment near Plaza Gomila en Terreno. Plaza Gomila is now a Ghost Town. We arrived before the radar was functional. Search radar had 152 nm range with a Height Finder. Radar Operations crew had about 15 military assigned. Pedro Vidal Terrasa and I went topside and I sat on the radar scope in 2007. All new equipment. Generalisimo Franco stepped on my right foot in +/- 1961 when he visited the station. Me corazon todavia se queda en Mallorca.

  30. Ric Leon says:

    I will be visiting Palma Mallorca in December. Will it be possible to visit the base? Will it be inaccessible due to potential heavy snow fall?

    1. mallorcaphotoblog says:

      Special permission for access to the peak of Puig Major is sometimes granted upon application from the Acuartelamiento Aéreo Puig Major (Air Barracks) by telephone (971.637.000). Permission procedures usually takes a few days and some patience may be rewarded.
      As far as snow is concerned one normally would not expect to have snow in Mallorca during December, at least not heavy snow fall.
      Good luck.

  31. Carlos Urick says:

    My father was the civilian head civil engineer at Puig Major up to 1986. We left to get him to Florida to the ARNOLD PALMER Cancer hospital. Unfortunately he passed away in Torrejon AFB a day before we were to go to FL. If anyone knew him or if I can help, please contact me via email. Be more then glad to help and see old friend or faces!

  32. Carlos says:

    My dad was Hank Urick and he was a civilian working for Boeing at the base there. From early 80’s up to 86, when we left to come to Florida seeking medical care for my dad’s cancer. I would love to catch up or help in anyone. Please feel free to contact me via email aiinkdesigns@gmail.com at gmail. com. Maybe I’ll remember some of you or vice versa!

    1. David Norman says:

      Carlos,
      I was stationed at the base from 1977-1978. Your dad worked for me and he managed all the contract work for the U. S. Air Force part of the site. He was in charge of the civil engineering, vehicle maintenance, and food operations. He was an outstanding manager and friend. He was also totally involved in making the site a first-class operation. I could not have had a better manager!
      I do remember you and your mother. I think you were very small, maybe 2-3 years old.
      Take care,
      David Norman

  33. GARY MIRES says:

    i am gary mires, stationed at the puig in 1975-76. kathy and i lived in puerto de soller close to the spanish navy base at one end of the port. i remember some of my friends first names, gordon, whisky, clint, greenbean, rathgaber, bennie and lees restaurant, mac mccullough, robbie, a few i can remember.

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