Pilots Needed... in a Hurry
In the late 1930's the U.S. was training about 500 pilots each year. When WWII began started in Europe, President Roosevelt realized the U.S. needed pilots...fast! That meant more flight schools would have to be constructed.
Civilian contract schools would give the primary training. Army Air Forces schools would conduct the Basic and Advanced training.
Ultimately, 56 Primary, 26 Basic, and 44 Advanced flying schools were established.
By the end of 1943 the U.S. was training almost 100,000 pilots annually.
Walnut Ridge Army Air Field is Born
An Army Air Forces Site Selection Board submitted a recommendation on April 15, 1942 that a Basic Flying School be built in the Moran Community northeast of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.
On May 12, 1942 the War Department directed the Army Corps of Engineers to construct an air field at the proposed site with three runways, and plan for more.
Construction of the main air field started June 20, 1942 on a 3,096.22 acre tract northeast of Walnut Ridge. Five auxiliary air fields were also constructed: Pocahontas, Biggers, Beech Grove, Walcott, and Bono.
For more information:
Wings of Honor Museum, Phone: 800-584-5575
History of the Walnut Ridge Army Airfield,
by Harold Johnson
Forgotten Fields of America, Vol 2, by Lou Thole
Encyclopedia of Arkansas: www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net