W.W.II Army Air Forces Contract Flying Schools

 Copyright © 2000-2005, Scott D. Murdock
15 May 2000 - Version 1.0
4 Feb 2005 - Corrected spelling of Robins Field MS in the Database Summary.


 Introduction

Civilian flying schools, under government contract, provided a considerable part of the flying training effort undertaken during W.W.II by the Army Air Forces.  To better understand the training environment at these schools, as well as the overall pilot training program, I recommend the series of articles by Colonel Robert F. Schirmer (see references).  He not only researched the subject, he was there!   The importance of these contractor operations to the war effort was significant, but were these schools really military bases?

To the flying cadets, the contract schools were just another training assignment -- although the flight instructors were civilian contractors, the cadets still experienced the discipline and drudgery of military life.  Reveille and retreat were still held at the "base" flagpole.   

But when it comes to real property accountability, the contract school airfields were a breed apart.  Since the properties were not owned or leased by the Army Air Forces, they were not designated or activated as Army Air Fields.  In official Army Air Forces directories, they were listed by the name of the civilian flying school, the name of the airport on which it operated, or sometimes just by the city name.  Part way during W.W.II, these properties (land, buildings, hangars, and unmovable equipment) were purchased from the civilian contractors by the Defense Plant Corporation (DPC).  This effectively made them government property, although they continued to be operated by the civilian contractors. 

Since I published my list of W.W.II Army Air Fields a few years ago, I've been bombarded by mail suggesting that I overlooked "Suchandsuch Army Air Field," or "Soandso Army Air Base."  Frequently, the locations in question were contract flying schools.  In common usage, they had been erroneously referred to as Army Air Fields or Army Air Bases.   

These questions, and my own curiosity, led to this list of Army Air Forces contract flying school airfields.  This list represents a "gray area" of the Army Air Forces basing posture during W.W.II.  It is my hope that this paper will give these airfields the credit they deserve for their wartime service, while clarifying their status and designations.


Contract Flying School Inventory

I have compiled this list from a variety of sources, providing some basic tabular data on each airfield, 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.")  This gives a 50-year follow-up from the end of W.W.II.  Reader updates or corrections to this list will be greatly appreciated!

View the Database Summary, listing all the airfields studied for this paper.


References

This work draws from the same references I used for my paper of W.W.II Army Air Fields.  Click here to go to those references.

Additional references specific to this paper are these articles written by retired USAF Colonel Robert F. Schirmer:

Schirmer, Robert F.  (1991, Spring).  AAC & AAF Civil Primary Flying Schools 1939-1945, Part 1.  Journal American Aviation Historical Society.

Schirmer, Robert F.  (1991, Summer).  AAC & AAF Civil Primary Flying Schools 1939-1945, Part II Chicago Primary.  Journal American Aviation Historical Society.

Schirmer, Robert F.  (1991, Fall).  AAC & AAF Civil Primary Flying Schools 1939-1945, Part III San Diego Primary.  Journal American Aviation Historical Society.

Schirmer, Robert F.  (1991, Winter).  AAC & AAF Civil Primary Flying Schools 1939-1945, Part IV Tuscaloosa Primary.  Journal American Aviation Historical Society.

Schirmer, Robert F.  (1992, Spring).  AAC & AAF Civil Primary Flying Schools 1939-1945, Part V Lincoln Primary.  Journal American Aviation Historical Society.

Schirmer, Robert F.  (1992, Summer).  AAC & AAF Civil Primary Flying Schools 1939-1945, Part VI Glendale Primary.  Journal American Aviation Historical Society.

Schirmer, Robert F.  (1992, Fall).  AAC & AAF Civil Primary Flying Schools 1939-1945, Part VII Dallas Primary.  Journal American Aviation Historical Society.

Schirmer, Robert F.  (1992, Winter).  AAC & AAF Civil Primary Flying Schools 1939-1945, Part VIII Santa Maria Primary.  Journal American Aviation Historical Society.

Schirmer, Robert F.  (1993, Spring).  AAC & AAF Civil Primary Flying Schools 1939-1945, Part IX Tulsa Primary.  Journal American Aviation Historical Society.


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