Copyright © 1998, Scott D. Murdock
For years I had noticed that the designation of certain airfields from the World War II era was "Flight Strip." I noticed that these flight strips had similar characteristics (see below) but I was unaware of their origin until I found a couple of reference books relating to airfield construction. They point to an interesting chapter in airfield history, which may be of interest to a small group of researchers.
In 1947, the Civil Aeronautics Administration definition of a Flight Strip was:
an area not less than 200 feet in width and not less than 1,800 feet in length (the area may be as large as 1,800 feet in width by 8,000 feet in length), with clear approaches, located in a highway right-of-way or adjacent to a public highway, on public land, developed with state and/or county funds (including Federal aid), appropriated to the State Highway Departments (The Asphalt Institute, 1947).
The Federal Highway Act of 1940 authorized the Commissioner of Public Roads of the United States to study the construction of flight strips adjacent to highways. Construction of flight strips was first authorized in the National Highway Act of 1941. The Act states:
Sec. 8. Flight Strips. In order to insure greater safety for traffic on the public highways by providing additional facilities in connection therewith to be available for the landing and takeoff of aircraft, the Commissioner of Public Roads is authorized to provide, in cooperation with the Army Air Corps, for studies and for the construction of "Flight Strips" adjacent to public highways or roadside development areas along such highways. The acquisition of new or additional lands necessary for such projects may, to the extent determined by the Federal Works Administrator, be included as part of the construction thereof and Federal funds shall be available to pay the cost of such acquisition. For carrying out the purposes of this section, there is hereby authorized to be appropriated during the continuance of the emergency declared by the President on May 27, 1941, in addition to any funds that may be available under any other appropriation, the sum of $10,000,000, which shall be available, without regard to apportionment among the several States, for paying all or any part of the cost of such projects (Sharp, et al, 1948).
Two more appropriations for flight strips were made before 1948, each for $5,000,000. (Sharp, et al, 1948). It was suggested that maintenance of flight strips might logically be assigned to state or county highway maintenance departments (The Asphalt Institute, 1947).
The identifying characteristics of a flight strip were:
The purposes of flight strips were (Sharp, et al, 1948):
Flight Strip Inventory
I have not found a definitive list of "official" flight strips. I have compiled a list from a variety of sources, providing some basic tabular data on each strip, along with its status in 1995. (Why 1995? To correspond with the methodology of my paper "The Use in 1995 of World War II Army Air Fields in the United States.") Reader updates or corrections will be greatly appreciated!
View the Database Summary, listing all the airfields studied for this paper.
Flight strips are one subset, or type, of airfield. They were a product of preparations for World War II. Flight strips served the military and their local communities. Many still serve one or the other in some capacity in the nineties.
I am interested in improving this paper, which is merely an attempt to bring the subject to light and encourage more research. If you have additional information you would like to share, please let me know. I will gladly update this page!
The Asphalt Institute. (1947.) Manual on Airfields. Design, Construction, and Maintenance of Runways, Taxiways, Aprons, and Warm-up Areas on Airports, Airparks, and Flight Strips. New York: The Asphalt Institute.
H. Oakley Sharp, G. Reed Shaw, John A. Dunlop. (1948). Airport Engineering. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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