THE USE IN 1995 OF WORLD WAR II ARMY AIR FIELDS IN THE UNITED STATES

 

Edited from a Graduate Research Project Submitted to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of the Degree of Master of Aeronautical Science
Barksdale Air Force Base Resident Center

Copyright © 1997, Scott D. Murdock

July 1998 - Edited for World Wide Web display.  Correcting information on the location of Dale Mabry Field, thanks to sharp-eyed author Mel Shettle!

11 Aug 2002 - Added six airfields to the inventory.  Adjusted totals and percentages accordingly. Added one document to the reference list and bibliography. Added two books to the bibliography  Added a comment about city-named "Fields" and updated the acknowledgments. New or changed information is shown bold and italicized.


    ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The writer wishes to express special thanks to Mr. Dick Burkard, historian with Headquarters, Air Education and Training Command, United States Air Force, whose encouragement, practical suggestions, and information sources made this Graduate Research Project a success. Appreciation is also due to Mr. Joseph McCusker and Mr. Lou Thole, historians and writers, for their enthusiastic support and eagerness to share reference materials on this topic.  Reflecting back, two other sources deserve thanks.  Mark Morgan's published inventory of Air Force Bases was an inspiration to me when I was just beginning to dabble in this hobby; his mentoring and friendship remain first-rate.  The editors of Air Force Magazine deserve a smart salute for the wonderful base listings they have provided in the annual Almanac Issues for the last half-century. 

This statement of acknowledgment would be incomplete without a formal expression of sincere appreciation and gratitude to my wife, Nancy Murdock, for providing the encouragement (and patience) needed to complete the task.

 


  TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgments
List of Tables 

    CHAPTER I - INTRODUCTION
        Background
        Statement of the Problem
        Statement of the Hypotheses
        Writer's Work Setting
        Assumptions
        Limitations

   CHAPTER II - REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
        Prior to World War II
        Wartime Buildup
        Post-War Reductions
        The Cold War and Vietnam
        Recent Events
        Summary of the Literature

    CHAPTER III - METHOD
        Subjects
        Instruments
        Research Design
        Procedures

    CHAPTER IV - DISCUSSION
        The Completed Database
        Status Categories
        Non-Hypotheses Findings

    CHAPTER V - CONCLUSIONS
        The Findings and the Hypotheses
        Recommendations
        Project Summary

References
Bibliography
Database Summary
 


  LIST OF TABLES

1   Database Structure
2   1941 - 1945 References Consulted
3   1993 - 1996 References Consulted
4   Original and Modified Status Categories
5   Data Accuracy Concerns
6   Hypothesized and Actual Status
7   Airfields with Any 1995 Military Use
 


  CHAPTER I - INTRODUCTION

Background

General Henry H. Arnold, while Chief of the Air Corps in 1939, described the importance of military airfields to a congressional committee: "An air force is a balanced compound of three essential ingredients -- airplanes, combat and maintenance crews, and air bases." (Craven and Cate, 1955). Military airfields have become an important part of our national landscape. Nonexistent a century ago, military airfields now comprise a significant portion of the world's military installations. As national policy and military technology change, some installations become obsolete and are removed from service. New installations are built to meet new threats and to support new weapon systems. This cycle is especially apparent in military airfields. An open sod or dirt field was a suitable flying field in the early days of U.S. Army aviation (Mueller, 1989). This same field would be of no use to today's high-performance military aircraft. Likewise, the two-mile runways in common use today were nonexistent -- and unnecessary -- in those early days of aviation.

In the World War I era, when sod airfields were the norm, a closed airfield tended to revert to its earlier use of agriculture. Today, it can be a challenge to find visible traces of World War I military airfields. The World War II era changed that with the widespread construction of hard-surfaced runways. A surplus military airfield with three 5,000-foot asphalt or concrete runways offers quite different reuse options than an empty field! Accordingly, traces of World War II military airfields are not at all difficult to find. Those hard-surfaced runways and the associated paved aircraft parking areas are prominent features at many airports of the 1990s.

But questions come to mind: How many of our nation's World War II Army Air Fields are still used as airports? Are any still used by the military? How many have been removed from all aviation use? These questions -- and the frustrating lack of answers -- led the writer into this project.

Statement of the Problem

The purpose of this study was to determine the use in 1995 of World War II Army Air Fields in the United States. Many of today's civil airports show signs of a military heritage; hangars and other buildings give testimony to the airfields history. Some active Air Force bases proudly describe their roots in World War II -- or even earlier. A casual glance at a World War II-vintage aeronautical chart can show many military airfields which are no longer used as such (C&GS, 1942, April 30). The researcher is driven by the question, "What ever happened to all those World War II Army Air Fields?" Until now, there has been no systematic attempt to answer that question. This project will fill that knowledge gap by documenting the use -- 50 years after the war -- of the nation's World War II Army Air Fields.

Statement of the Hypotheses

It was hypothesized that the majority (80 to 90 percent) of World War II Army Air Fields became civil airports. It was hypothesized that a smaller number (5 to 15 percent) continued in military aviation service. It was hypothesized that an even lesser number (1 to 10 percent) were removed from all aviation use. These hypotheses are based on the researcher's personal study of military airfields.  

Writer's Work Setting

The writer has had a long-standing interest in military airfields, having grown up in an Air Force family and then enlisting in the Air Force after high school. Working in the fields of weapons training, transportation, manpower management, professional military education, and social work has brought permanent and temporary assignments across the country and around the world. While working as a management consultant with the Air Force Management Engineering Agency, the writer viewed issues from an Air Force-wide perspective and had the opportunity to visit a large number of Air Force installations. The writer earned an Associate in Arts degree, in Liberal Arts, from Chicago City-Wide College, Chicago, Illinois; and a Bachelor of Science degree, in Human Resource Management, from Park College, Parkville, Missouri. This life-long association with Air Force bases led to the serious research of installations used by the Air Force and its predecessor organizations. The writer has gathered information from Air Force history offices, fellow history enthusiasts, and various archives and repositories. This Graduate Research Project is a natural extension of these efforts.

Assumptions

Gathering accurate information on military bases in use half a century ago proved challenging. The writer has assumed that the available information is accurate and reliable. The primary sources used to compile the World War II Army Air Field inventory were classified as Restricted material under the Espionage Act, 50 U.S.C., 31 and 32. Long since lifted, this security classification offers encouragement that the information is accurate and not censored or misrepresented for propaganda purposes. As well, the primary sources used were intended for use by Army Air Forces pilots, and as their safety depended on accurate information, this offers further reassurance that they contain reliable data.

Limitations

The writer has limited this project to Army Air Fields. This ignores the parallel situation which exists with Navy and Marine Corps airfields. This was a deliberate choice, and the opportunity is available for the student of Naval aviation to perform a similar analysis of those airfields.

This project also ignores the many important airfields which provided contract pilot training for the Army Air Forces in World War II; these airfields were a vital part of our wartime aviation infrastructure, but they were civil airfields without military designations. They are excluded from the parameters of this study, but are certainly worthy of separate analysis.

Also excluded were numerous other airfields serving as main bases for the Army Air Forces if they were designated as "Airport," "Airfield," or some other designation besides "Army Air Field," "Army Air Base," or "Field."
 


  CHAPTER II - REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE  

Prior to World War II

Airplanes were flying from U.S. Army installations as early as September 3, 1908, when the first of several acceptance flights for the first Army airplane was held at Fort Meyer, Virginia (Hennessy, 1958). By the end of World War I, the number of military flying fields exceeded 40 (Mueller, 1989). Civil airports existed as early as 1909, and there were 20 by 1912 (Wells, 1992). The Army Air Service had 69 airfields in the United States by 1919 (Launius, 1996). By 1920 there were 145 civil airports. In 1933 and 1934, 640 new airports were built with federal funds by the Civil Works Administration and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (Wells, 1992). On August 12, 1935, Congress passed the Army Air Base Bill (a.k.a. "The Wilcox Act") which provided for construction of several airfields (Craven and Cate, 1955). Site selection for these bases did not start until 1938 (Faulkner, 1990). In 1939, the Army Air Corps had only 17 air bases (Thole, 1996). Similar growth was authorized for Naval Aviation in the Naval Expansion Act (a.k.a. "The Vinson Bill") in 1938 (Shettle, 1995).  

Wartime Buildup

The intense wartime buildup of military airfields is described by historian Lou Thole in his 1996 work, Forgotten Fields of America:

"Perhaps never again will Americans have the freedom to exercise their initiative and imagination as they did during WWII. Largely unencumbered by stifling governmental regulations and partisan politics, and united as never before, they went about building the foundation for the greatest aerial force in history. The results were magnificent and are a lasting testimonial to the American spirit." (Thole, 1996)

Congress in 1940 appropriated money for Development of Landing Areas for National Defense (DLAND), and the Civil Aeronautics Administration used these funds to build or improve airports which had potential military use. Ultimately, 986 airports were aided under DLAND (Wells, 1992). One source indicates $3.2 Billion was spent on the nation's air installations during World War II, and "seemingly a base was established near every major crossroads." (Launius, 1996). At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, the Army Air Forces had 114 airfields in the United States, and 47 others were projected. The number of Army Air Forces airfields peaked at the end of 1943, with 345 main bases, 116 subbases, and 322 auxiliary fields (Craven and Cate, 1955). Most of these airfields were built during 1941 and 1942 (Thole, 1996). Another source cites the number of military airfields in the U.S. at the end of World War II as 1,333 (Morgan, 1987).  

Post-War Reductions

Immediately after the end of World War II, more than 500 military airfields were declared surplus and given to cities, counties, or states for civil aviation use. These airports were to be made available to the government in the event of a national emergency (Wells, 1992). When the Air Force was established as a separate service on September 18, 1947, it had 90 major active airfields (Morgan, 1987).  

The Cold War and Vietnam

By 1957 the Air Force had 134 bases; this growth was brought about by the Berlin Airlift, the Korean War, and the growing Soviet threat. This number dropped to 86 by 1977, as bases were closed due to force structure reductions and for economy (Morgan, 1987).

  Recent Events

By 1982, the U.S. Air Force had 89 active main bases in the United States. Of these, 21 existed prior to World War II, 57 were built during World War II, and 11 more opened after World War II (Mueller, 1989). On the civil aviation side, in 1970, the FAA listed the total landing areas in the U.S. as 11,261. By 1990, this number was up to 17,451; and of this number 3,285 were significant enough to receive federal aid (Wells, 1992).

U.S. Air Force airfields (as well as all other types of military installations) continue to close in the 1990s, through the workings of the Base Closure and Realignment Commission. A press release, describing the 1995 Defense Department recommendations to the Commission, quotes Secretary of Defense William Perry on the subject:

"These installations offer an opportunity for communities to diversify and reshape their economic futures. We have already seen impressive redevelopment successes in such diverse communities as Sacramento, Calif.; Alexandria, La.; and Rantoul, Ill." (OASD, 1995)

Interestingly enough, all three of those examples refer to Air Force bases: Mather Air Force Base, California; England Air Force Base, Louisiana; and Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois; respectively.  

Summary of the Literature  

The literature shows that airfields are added to or deleted from the military inventory as needs and events dictate. A large number of military airfields became civil airports after World War II. Civil airports have grown in number over the years.

A common problem the writer faced when reviewing the literature, was referenced works often stated a number of airfields without offering a list to support the number, and even failed to cite a source document which could be consulted to verify the number of airfields. Thus, there was no way to analyze the data and interpret often contradictory numbers. The writer was disappointed and frustrated by this common omission of supporting data.

Some confusion was evident in the Army Air Forces' own attempts to satisfactorily inventory its airfields, as shown in the foreword to the February 1, 1943 Army Air Force Station List:

"The Battle of the Ages has been fought, not in the sunny sands of Africa but amidst the icy and heavily populated District of Confusion.  This battle has been to make this list a complete hand-book on the activities of the Army Air Forces. The efforts have been to clarify the existing Confusions; By -- First, preparing a complete CROSS REFERENCE of names for the various stations; Second, the preparation of a SECTION BY COMMAND, showing the uses of each installation; and Third, completing a Master Section, arranged by STATIONS BY STATES, listing detailed data and information - which it is hoped will be of assistance to the swivel-chair pilots throughout the Army Air Forces." (AAF, 1943, February 1)

This offered some insight into the reasons for a lack of a complete inventory in the literature; just keeping track of the airfields on a day-to-day basis during World War II was apparently in itself a challenge! What is lacking in the literature is any comprehensive research showing what has become of the inventory of World War II military airfields. Many sources offer numbers of airfields and airports which existed at a given time, but offer no descriptions or comparisons beyond that.

There are two existing works similar to the writer's project. Shettle (1995) treats World War II Naval Air Stations in a similar fashion as the writer intends for World War II Army Airfields. He presents a brief history of each Naval Air Station, along with aerial photographs, and comments on the post-Navy use of each, when appropriate. However, he presents the information without offering any overall analysis of the modern-day use of the stations. Thole (1996) offers in-depth studies of several Army Air Fields, showing the wartime and present-day uses of the installations. His book offers a good selection of photographs, and is an excellent reference. Unfortunately, his book only treats a small sample of the airfields the writer has chosen for this study.
 


  CHAPTER III – METHOD

Subjects

The population studied in this project was selected from the larger population of military airfields, in use during World War II, in the United States. The population studied includes primary flying fields (as opposed to auxiliary flying fields) operated by the Army Air Forces in the 48 states. This population consists mainly of fields which were designated as "Army Air Field"; however some airfields which were designated "Army Air Base" or "Field" were included, if they fit the description above. During World War II, Army Air Force flying fields were named by using the designation "Army Air Field" (or "Army Air Base" if the installation was the headquarters of an activity) with the name of the geographical location, until such time as the installation was named after a deceased hero of the Army Air Forces. At that time, the word "Field" added to the name of the person would be used (AAF, 1943, May 1). (There were a few exceptions, where the term "Field" was used with the local city name:  Pendleton Field, Stockton Field, and Wendover Field.) 

This selection does not exclude Army Air Fields which were further categorized as subbases or subposts. In the researcher's experience, this categorization was often an organizational or administrative decision not necessarily based on the physical attributes, capabilities, or designation of the airfield in question.

This selection eliminates the many strictly auxiliary fields used by the Army Air Forces. These fields were typically smaller than the main airfields they supported. They were often unpaved with few significant facilities -- in the writer's experience, most now show no trace of their military role.

Also excluded are civil airports with a military presence if they retained the civil designation, such as municipal airport or county airport. This exclusion includes the many contractor-operated flying training airfields which supported the Army Air Forces.

It also excludes flying fields used by non-Army Air Forces segments of the Army, and excludes entirely the Navy and Marine Corps. These various exclusions were made to keep the project easily definable, and at a manageable size. For this project, the time frame for World War II was set as December 7, 1941 (the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor) to August 14, 1945 (Victory over Japan [V.J.] Day).  

Instruments

To consolidate information on hundreds of different airfields, and compare the "then" and "now" status of each, would be difficult without the use of a computer. Accordingly, the writer used Microsoft's FoxPro Version 2.5, an MS-DOS database management program. The writer had already designed a database structure for use in similar research; with minor modifications it was used in this project (Table 1). This structure made it convenient to compile information on each field's status from a variety of different sources.
 

Table 1 - Database Structure
Field Name  Description
KEY A key (or index) name for each airfield.
NAME  The name in use at that particular date. Includes 3-position airport identifier, if applicable.
ST The state in which the airfield is located.
DATE The date of the reference used for this data entry.
REF The reference used for this data entry.
LAT The latitude, in degrees and minutes (all are North).
LONG The longitude, in degrees and minutes (all are West).
STATUS The status of the airfield on August 14, 1995. 
     Civil Airport 
     Civil Airport with some Military use 
     Military Airport 
     Military Airport with some Civil use 
     Non-aviation use, Civil 
     Non-aviation use, Military
WW II NAME The reference name from World War II.
1995 NAME The reference name from 1995.

Research Design

The Historical and Descriptive Methods of research were used because they determine and report the way things are. A database format was used to compile information because it allowed an accurate and standardized method of comparing of information from a variety of sources.  

Procedures

Here is a simplified description of the project: First, make a list of the World War II airfields in the selected population. Second, determine the use (as of August 14, 1995) of each one. Third, analyze the resulting data to test the hypotheses.

Listing all the applicable World War II airfields required extracting data from multiple primary sources. From previous research experience, the writer realized airfields were opened and closed at various times during the war, so no single point-in-time reference was likely to have a complete list. Therefore, eight U.S. Government source documents were consulted from the time period of June, 1941, to September, 1945 (Table 2). These primary reference sources allow for coverage starting several months prior to Pearl Harbor and ending about two weeks after V.J. Day.
 

Table 2 - 1941-1945 References Consulted
Date Name of Reference
Jun 25, 1941 Air Corps Station List
May 1, 1943 Army Air Forces Station List
Dec 1, 1943 Directory of Army Air Forces Stations and Activities
Dec 1, 1943 U.S. Army and Navy Directory of Airfields
Feb 1, 1944 U.S. Army and Navy Directory of Airfields
Jul 15, 1944 Development of AAF Base Facilities in the U.S.
Dec 1, 1944 U.S. Army and Navy Directory of Airfields
Sep 1, 1945 Army Air Forces Installations Directory
Feb 1, 1943 * Army Air Force Station List
Aug 1, 1944 * Army Air Forces Installation Directory
Dec 31, 1945* Owned, Sponsored and Leased Facilities. Reports Control Symbol AMD-1
1982 * Air Force Bases, Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the USA on 1 January 1974
1989 * Air Force Bases, Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the USA on 17 September 1982
* Backup references used to clarify airfields with confusing designations.

Three additional primary references were obtained as back-up sources to clarify confusing airfield designations. Also, two secondary reference sources were consulted on an as-needed basis to shore-up any gaps left by the above primary sources.

Showing the current use of the subject fields likewise required extracting data, this time from a variety of current governmental and commercial sources (Table 3). When the names of the fields had changed, latitude and longitude coordinates were compared to correctly match-up today's information with that from World War II. Again, a variety of references were used since a single reference showing every airport in the U.S. on August 14, 1995 was not available. The references used were from the period 1993 - 1996. Data was first extracted from the 1993 Airline Owners and Pilots Association Directory, the 1995 Air Force Magazine Almanac Issue, and the 1996 Federal Aviation Administration databases. In most cases, these four references provided the needed verification of use. The other sources were used as back-up references; consulted on a case-by-case basis, when needed, to verify use.
 

Table 3 - 1993-1996 References Consulted
Date  Name of Reference
1993 Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association's Aviation USA
May 1995 Guide to Air Force Installations Worldwide, Air Force Magazine
Aug 17, 1996 Federal Aviation Administration database of Public Use Airports
Aug 17, 1996 Federal Aviation Administration database of Part 139 Certificated Airports
Oct 12, 1995* Visual Flight Rules - Supplement, United States
Jan 4, 1996* Instrument Flight Rules - Supplement, United States
May 1996* Guide to Air Force Installations Worldwide, Air Force Magazine
* Back-up reference to verify airfield use on a case-by-case basis.

 
If a particular site was used for the same purpose in two references bracketing the target date of August 14, 1995, then that same use was inferred for the target date. Airfields not found in the four primary sources (or found with conflicting information) were further researched on a case-by-case basis using the back-up references to discover its use on August 14, 1995. In a few cases, no 1995 reference was found so additional research was required. Sectional Aeronautical Charts were used to determine the existence of an airfield at known WWII airfield locations; these were available in the 1993 - 1994 time frame. Additional data comparisons on some airfields, as of January, 1997, were obtained from the AirNav site on the Internet.

Once satisfactory "then and now" information was available, the hypotheses were tested by summing the different entries in the STATUS field as shown in Table 1. Results were displayed in numbers and charts for clarity. A listing of the 395 airfields included in this research project, showing the WWII name and 1995 status, is included as Appendix B.
 


  CHAPTER IV - DISCUSSION  

The Completed Database

After obtaining data from the reference sources and typing it into the computer, the resulting database contains 4248 [no longer accurate or important] records, with information on 395 airfields. These 395 airfields were, at some point during World War II, designated "Army Air Field," "Army Air Base," or "Field" as part of an official name. In the database, 3859 [no longer accurate or important] of the records represent data points from the reference sources, while 395 are "key" records used to index the database and indicate the appropriate World War II name and 1995 status category of each airfield.

Status Categories

In the proposal for this project, the writer intended to use three categories for the 1995 status of the subject airfields: Civil Aviation, Military Aviation, and Non-Aviation Use. After this was done and the results analyzed, the need for more detail became apparent.

Many of the now-civil airports host a flying unit of the Air Force Reserves or Air National Guard; and some of the now-military airports have shared civil use. This prompted the sub-categorization of the "Military Aviation" and "Civil Aviation" categories. For this project, a military airport is an airport operated by any branch of the U.S. military (Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps). For this project, a civil airport is any non-military airport, such as a municipal, regional, or international airport. Civil also includes privately-operated airfields and non-military U.S. Government airfields.

It was also noted that of the airfields now without aviation use, some were continuing to serve as Air Force Bases -- but with the runways closed for business! This intriguing fact prompted the sub-categorization of the "Non-Aviation Use" category. The original and modified status categories are shown in Table 4.
 

Table 4 - Original and Modified Status Categories
Original Category Modified Categories
Civil Aviation Civil Airport 
Civil Airport with some Military use
Military Aviation Military Airport 
Military Airport with some Civil use
Non-Aviation Use Non-aviation use, Civil 
Non-aviation use, Military

  Non-Hypotheses Findings

In any research project, one is bound to make interesting findings along the way. Some of these may not relate to the hypotheses, but may be of interest to other researchers. Accordingly, the writer offers the following observations.

One interesting discovery was four of the World War II airfields under study have merged into two modern-day military airports. The World War II Kelly Field and Duncan Field have merged into what is now Kelly AFB. The former Wright Field and Patterson Field are now Wright-Patterson AFB.

Two of the airfields were found to have changed hands to non-military government agencies, but with the name retained. The World War II Moffett Field by 1995 was known as Moffett Federal Airfield, operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (DMA, 1996). The World War II Moore Field became Moore Field Airport, under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (AirNav, 1997, January 30).

Of the now-military airfields, most are used by the U.S. Air Force, while some are used by the U.S. Army. Only one of the subject airfields was operated by the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps in 1995 -- Camp Davis AAFld is now Camp Davis Marine Corps Outlying Field.

As two of the references used were inventories of Public Use and Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 139 Certificated Airports, the writer also looked at these classifications. Of our 395 subject airfields, 280 (71 percent) are listed as Public Use Airports in 1996. These 280 airports amount to 6 percent of the 4,952 Public Use Airports.

Turning to FAR Part 139, 197 of the 395 studied airfields (50 percent) are listed as Part 139 Certificated Airports in 1996. These 197 airports make up 33 percent of the 594 Part 139 Certificated Airports. This shows that the military airfields constructed in World War II certainly had a lasting impact on the airport infrastructure of the United States. If one were to expand this research to include all the World War II military airfields excluded by this study, the impact would certainly be more significant.

Concerning the accuracy of data presented in the World War II reference documents, the writer noticed some discrepancies large enough to be of concern to a traveler. Some airfields had latitude or longitude coordinates misidentified, in one case by a full degree (approximately 60 miles). Other ordinal directions placed the same airfield on opposite sides of the local city at various times. Table 5 gives some extreme examples of these errors. The writer assumes these were administrative, or typographical, mistakes. World War II was long before the age of word processors and computers; the amount of old-fashioned typing that went into the airfield directories was enormous. Honest mistakes were liable to occur.
 

Table 5 - Data Accuracy Concerns
World War II Name Latitude and Longitude
Brookley Field 30-38, 88-04 (CAA, 1943, December 1) 
30-58, 88-04 (CAA, 1944, December 1)
New Bedford AAFld 40-40-41, 70-57-30 (CAA, 1943, December 1) 
41-40-15, 70-57-30 (CAA, 1944, December 1)
Sturgis AAFld 37-32-30, 87-57-30 (CAA, 1943, December 1) 
37-38-30, 87-57-30 (CAA, 1944, December 1)
 
World War II Name Distance and City
Courtland AAFld 1.5 SE Courtland (AAF, 1943, May 1) 
1.8 SW Courtland (CAA, 1944, February 1)
Smoky Hill AAFld 12 SSW Salina (AAF, 1943, May 1) 
4 SSW Salina (CAA, 1943, December 1)
Thomasville AAFld 1 SW Thomasville (AAF, 1943, May 1) 
8.5 NE Thomasville (CAA, 1943, December 1)

 
Although this study includes Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard flying units on civil airports, it overlooks non-flying Reserve and Guard units which are based on civil airports. For example, the writer visited the former Hammond AAFld, Louisiana, and was surprised to find an Air National Guard communications unit, virtually in the shadow of the wooden, World War II-vintage control tower. Even with this unit present, this airfield (now Hammond Municipal Airport) is categorized in this study as a "civil airport."

Three of the studied airfields have evolved into present-day Air Force Bases with a twist: the airfield is shared with an adjoining civil airport, and is under civil control. These are Kirtland Field (now Albuquerque International Airport/Kirtland AFB), Bedford AAFld (now Laurence G. Hanscom Airport/Hanscom AFB), and Peterson AAFld (now Colorado Springs Municipal Airport/Peterson AFB). The writer has personally visited Kirtland AFB and Peterson AFB, and was amused to require a 20-minute taxi ride through town to reach the same Air Force buildings he had seen from the taxiing aircraft.
 


  CHAPTER V - CONCLUSIONS  

The Findings and the Hypotheses

The data resulting from this research project was fairly close to that which was expected, even though two of the three hypotheses were not proven. The writer was surprised at the high number of World War II Army Air Fields still operated by the military, and by the high number of World War II Army Air Fields which are civil airports with an Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard flying presence. Table 6 shows the number, hypothesized percentage, and actual percentage of airfields in the three original status categorizations; followed by the number, hypothesized percentage, and actual percentage of airfields in the six modified status categorizations.
 

Table 6 - Hypothesized and Actual Status
Original Category Amount Percent Hypothesis Proven?
Civil Aviation 278 71 No
Military Aviation 80 20 No
Non-Aviation Use 37 9 Yes
 
Modified Category Amount  Percent
Civil Airport 239 61
Civil Airport, some Military use 39 10
Military Airport  75 19
Military Airport, some Civil use 5 1
Non-aviation use, Civil 33 8
Non-aviation use, Military 4 1

  Recommendations

This subject area is suited to further investigation. Two approaches seem suitable for exploration by the interested researcher: First, an expansion of this study to include the many Navy and Marine Corps airfields from World War II. This widening of scope could also include the many airports which were contract flying training schools; or other airports which served as main bases for the Army Air Forces (or other branch of service) under their civil designation.

Second, an additional point-in-time reference would add depth to the material. For example, looking at the use of these airfields in 1970 would show their use at the 25-year point after World War II. The writer noticed many World War II Army Air Fields which were active as Air Force Bases for many years; but had closed prior to 1995. An additional then-and-now comparison would capture many such airfields.  

Project Summary

This project has filled a gap in the available literature by providing an itemized list of 395 major airfields of the Army Air Forces, and showing the use of each 50 years after World War II. Most of these airfields (71 percent) are now civil airports, some of which support some military use. Many of these airfields (20 percent) are now military airports, a few of which support some civil use. Of the 395 airfields studied, only 9 percent (37 airfields) no longer support flying operations of any kind. This is certainly a strong testimony to the planning, resources, and hard work our nation invested in such a short time period so long ago.

To gain another perspective on this information, Table 7 shows that 31 Percent -- virtually one out of three -- of World War II Army Air Fields are still serving the U.S. military in some significant capacity.
 

Table 7 - Airfields with Any 1995 Military Use
Category From Figure 3  Percent of Total
Military Airport  19 Percent
Military Airport, Some Civil Use 1 Percent
Non-Aviation Use, Military  1 Percent
Civil Airport, Some Military Use 10 Percent

Sub-Total: 

31 Percent

 


REFERENCES

Air Force Association [AFA]. (1995, May). Guide to Air Force Installations Worldwide. Air Force Magazine, 5, 112-123.

Air Force Association [AFA]. (1996, May). Guide to Air Force Installations Worldwide. Air Force Magazine, 5, 109-120.

Air Force News Agency [AFNA]. (1995, January). Firefly, 'Bug' with an Attitude. Airman Magazine, 38-41.

Airline Owners and Pilots Association [AOPA]. (1993). AOPA's Aviation USA, 1993 Edition. Batavia, OH: Author.

AirNav. (1997, January 30). Information on Airports [Online]. Available http://www.airnav.com/airports/search.html [1997, March 28]

Civil Aeronautics Administration [CAA], Department of Commerce (1943, December 1). U.S. Army and Navy Directory of Airfields (Continental United States). Washington, DC: Commanding General, Army Air Forces.

Civil Aeronautics Administration [CAA], Department of Commerce (1944, February 1). U.S. Army and Navy Directory of Airfields (Continental United States). Washington, DC: Commanding General, Army Air Forces.

Civil Aeronautics Administration [CAA], Department of Commerce (1944, December 1). U.S. Army and Navy Directory of Airfields (Continental United States). Washington, DC: Commanding General, Army Air Forces.

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Office of the Chief of Engineers.  (1945, December 31).  Owned, Sponsored and Leased Facilities.  Reports Control Symbol AMD-1 [Online].  Available http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usamhi/DL/  [2002, July 3]

Shettle, M.L. (1995). United States Naval Air Stations of World War II, Volume I - Eastern States. Bowersville, GA: Schaertel Publishing Co.

Thole, L. (1996). Forgotten Fields of America, World War II Bases and Training Then and Now. Missoula, MT: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Inc.

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U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Air Commerce [BAC]. (1938). Airway Bulletin No. 2, Descriptions of Airports and Landing Fields in the United States. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1993, May 27). Albuquerque Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 51st Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1994, March 31). Atlanta Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 52nd Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1993, June 24). Brownsville Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 51st Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1993, June 24). Dallas-Fort Worth Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 50th Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1993, October 14). Denver Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 49th Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1993, August 19). El Paso Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 51st Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1993, July 23). Houston Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 52nd Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1994, March 3). Jacksonville Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 53rd Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1993, December 9). Kansas City Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 51st Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1994, October 13). Lake Huron Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 48th Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1994, January 6). Los Angeles Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 54th Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1994, March 3). Miami Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 54th Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1993, December 9). New York Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 48th Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1994, March 3). Omaha Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 51st Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1993, May 27). Phoenix Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 49th Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1993, May 27). San Antonio Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 51st Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1993, October 14). San Francisco Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 51st Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1993, November 11). St. Louis Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 49th Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1994, March 3). Washington Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 55th Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service [NOAA]. (1993, October 14). Wichita Sectional Aeronautical Chart, 51st Edition. Washington, DC: Author.

Wells, A.T. (1992). Airport Planning & Management. 2nd Edition. Blue Ridge Summit, PA: TAB Books Division of McGraw-Hill, Inc.  


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Wells, A.T. (1992). Airport Planning & Management. 2nd Edition. Blue Ridge Summit, PA: TAB Books Division of McGraw-Hill, Inc.


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