Roberts International Airport (IATA: ROB, ICAO: GLRB), informally known as Robertsfield, is an airport in the West African nation of Liberia. Located near the town of Harbel, the single runway airport is about 35 miles outside of the nation's capital of Monrovia, and as an origin and destination point is referred to as "Monrovia" in popular usage. The facility with its 11,000 feet (3,400 m) long runway is an emergency landing site for the United States' Space Shuttle program and the principal international airport in the country. The airport is named in honor of Joseph Jenkins Roberts, the first President of Liberia.
In 1942, Liberia signed a Defense Pact with the United States. This commenced a period of strategic road building and other construction related to US military interests in checking the expansion of the Axis powers. The airport was originally built by the United States government as an Air Force base as part of these activities. The runway was built long enough for B-47 Stratojet bombers to land for refueling, giving Liberia what was for many years the longest runway in Africa. President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States had lunch with President Edwin J. Barclay at Robertsfield visit to Liberia in January 1943.
The story of Robertsfield is consistently intertwined with the history of Pan American World Airways. In fact, from the end of World War II until 1985, the airport was administered and operated by Pan American under contract with the Republic of Liberia's Ministry of Transport. Monrovia was consistently a key link in Pan American's African network, usually an intermediate stop between Accra and Dakar, from which service continued onward to Europe and New York. In the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, the airport became Pan Am's principal African hub, with a non-stop service from New York JFK connecting at Robertsfield to such destinations as Dakar, Accra, Abidjan, Lagos, and Conakry, among others, and continuing on to Nairobi and even at times Johannesburg, so that for many years virtually every Pan Am passenger to Africa passed through Robertsfield. Pan Am's presence diminished during the 1980s, as Pan Am's African network was slowly pulled down. Pan Am ended its management of the airport in 1985 but as late as 1986 the airport was still a stop on the JFK-Dakar-Monrovia-Lagos-Nairobi route.