Snowbird Express

Copyright 2008, Scott D. Murdock
23 Sep 2010 - Added additional photos.


So when the Colorado cold and snow become tiresome, whatcha gonna do? Head to Arizona, of course!

Saturday, 22 Dec 2007

Starting my day at 0300, I took an early flight from Denver to Phoenix. Sky Harbor Airport, 33-26-05, 112-00-30. No photos - no W.W.II buildings or structures observed. My weekend rental vehicle was a Pontiac Grand Prix -- nice handling and great acceleration, but crappy rear visibility.

My first challenge was to get south of Tucson. Pre-Christmas traffic was heavy, with slow-going on the Interstate because of all the overloaded pickups and vans headed south.If you missed it, check out Arizona Antics to see my first effort at visiting all the Davis-Monthan missile sites.

Davis-Monthan AF Missile Site #6 (571-5) (FBPH)
(Access road)

Davis-Monthan AF Missile Site #7 (571-6) (FBPJ)
(Access road)

Davis-Monthan AF Missile Site #9 (571-8) (FBPL)
(Locked gate)

After catching these missile sites, I headed back through Tucson and stopped for the night in Marana. The driving portion of the day was 5.5 hours covering 293 miles.

Sunday, 23 Dec 2007

Starting from Marana, my first objective was to finish up the Titan II missile sites.

Davis-Monthan AF Missile Site #18 (570-9) (FBPV)
(General view)

Davis-Monthan AF Missile Site #1 (570-1) (FBPC)
(Access road)

Davis-Monthan AF Missile Site #17 (570-8) (FBPU)
(Access road)

Davis-Monthan AF Missile Site #16 (570-7) (FBPT)
(Gate and access road)

At this point I was getting closer to civilization, and it was time for my first airfield visit of the trip. Coolidge AAFld, 32-56-00, 111-25-40, is still in use as a municipal airport. One W.W.II vintage hangar and at least one other wartime building remain.

Casa Grande AF Auxiliary Field, 32-57-10, 111-45-55. No photos - no Air Force-vintage buildings or structures observed.

A few years ago the Navy transferred the Gila River Space Surveillance Site to the Air Force, and it is now called Gila River Field Station, according to the sign.

Goodyear AF Auxiliary Field (1195), 33-14-30, 111-54-35. No photos - no Air Force-vintage buildings or structures observed.

Now called the Williams-Gateway Airport, the former Williams AFB (1194, YZJU), 33-18-30, 111-40-00, is still a busy place. Several hangars still remain from the Air Force days, including three demountables, two side-by-side and a third by itself. One open-ended hangar might be a Butler design from W.W.II. The tall control tower, a group of engine test cells, an elevated water storage tank, and several dormitories appear relatively unmodified. Other Air Force buildings remain on the former base.

Now a general aviation airport, this former AAF contract flying school at 33-27-35, 111-43-35, still goes by its wartime name of Falcon Field. Southwest Airways, Ltd., Inc. operated the British Flying Training School #4 here. The only building I saw that was possibly W.W.II vintage was a hangar.

Luke AFB (1240, NUEX). No photos - active installation. Luke had no room available for me, so I stopped for the night in nearby Goodyear. This was a 10.5 hour, 302 mile day.

Monday, 24 Dec 2007

Plancor 275, 33-25-57, 112-21-38. No photos - busy industrial plant with no convenient photo opportunity. This plant is adjacent to the east side of Phoenix-Goodyear Airport. During W.W.II, this Defense Plant Corporation facility was operated by Goodyear Aircraft Corporation as an aircraft parts plant.

Now the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport at 33-25-30, 112-22-15, this was Litchfield Park Naval Air Facility during W.W.II. Two hangars remain from the Navy days, one of them fairly intact but the other heavily modified to accommodate larger aircraft types.

The former AAF contract flying school called Thunderbird Field I is now mostly residential, but the northwest quarter was turned into a private management school and retains two hangars and the operations building with control tower. This is private property, and I took these photographs after getting permission from the security office. The wartime field was centered at approximately 33-27-00, 112-10-30, and was a primary flying school operated by Southwest Airways, Inc. Also commonly called Thunderbird Airport #1 during the war.

The location of Thunderbird Field II, another W.W.II AAF contract flying school, is now a mix of industrial, commercial, and residential areas. Centered at approximately 33-37-20, 111-54-45, this was a primary school operated by Hayward & Connelly. Two vintage hangars remain, adapted for non-aircraft purposes. Also commonly called Thunderbird Airport #2 during the war.

Plancor 944. No photos - busy industrial plant with no convenient photo opportunity. This plant is adjacent to the north side of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, centered at approximately 33-26-36, 112-00-59. During W.W.II, this Defense Plant Corporation facility was operated by Airesearch Mfg. Co. of Arizona as an aircraft parts plant producing intercooler tubes. At some time after W.W.II, until at least the early 1960s, this plant was an Air Force installation named AiResearch Mfg Co (4360).

And then it was time to turn in the Pontiac and submit to the air travel process. Today's drive was 8 hours covering 242 miles. Total driving for the weekend was 837 miles.


GO TO TRIP REPORTS PAGE


GO TO MAIN PAGE