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Hicks Field

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Hicks Field

for the current civil airport, see: Hicks Airfield

Hicks Field (Camp Taliaferro Field #1) is a former World War I military airfield, located 5.6 miles (9.0 km) North-northwest of Saginaw, Texas. It operated as a training field for the Air Service, United States Army between 1917 until 1920. It was one of thirty-two Air Service training camps established after the United States entry into World War I in April 1917. [1]

After the United States' entry into World War I in April 1917, General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing invited the British Royal Flying Corps to establish training fields in Texas for the training of American and Canadians volunteers because of its mild weather. After looking at sites in Dallas, Fort Worth, Waco, Austin, Wichita Falls and Midland, three sites were established in 1917 in the Fort Worth vicinity (known as the "Flying Triangle."), those being Hicks Field (#1), Barron Field (#2), and Benbrook Field (#3).

Canadians named the training complex Camp Taliaferro after Walter Taliaferro, a US aviator who had been killed in an accident. Camp Taliaferro was headquartered under the direction of the Air Service, United States Army, which had and administration center near what is now the Will Rodgers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

History

Taliafero Field No. 1 was used by the Royal Flying Corps from October 1917 to April 1918 as a training field for American and Canadian pilots. It was then turned over to the Air Service, United States Army. The Americans renamed the field Hicks Field, after Charles Hicks, who owned the Hicks Ranch on which the airfield was built.

World War I

The first trainees arrived in November 1917 to a very crude facility. Most structures were unfinished and personnel lived and worked in canvas tents. The Flu Epidemic killed many assigned personnel. The airfield was taken over by United States Army in April 1918. The Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" became the primary aircraft used for flight training after the Army takeover. The 22d, 27th, 28th, 139th, 147th, and 148th US Aero Squadrons trained at the facility. Military use ended in early 1919 after the end of World War I.

In 1923, the field became the location of the world's first helium plant, operated by United States Navy. It became a Navy blimp facility until 1929 when shortages closed facility.

Taken over by United States Army Air Corps in 1940, facilities improved and it was used as a contract primary flight training facility by the USAAF Gulf Coast Training Center (later Central Flying Command). Texas Aviation School & W. F. Long Flying School provided flying training to aviation cadets. Initially under supervision of 307th Army Air Forces Flying Training Detachment, later re-designated as 2555th Army Air Forces Base Unit (Contract Pilot School, Primary) on 1 May 1944. A ten-week course of primary training continued at Hicks, and a total of 2,403 cadets were processed, and about 70% made it to the next level of training at Randolph Field.

Flying training was performed with Fairchild PT-19s as the primary trainer. Also had several PT-17 Stearmans and a few P-40 Warhawks were assigned. The field was inactivated 20 July 1944 with the drawdown of AAFTC's pilot training program, declared surplus, and turned over to the Army Corps of Engineers. It was eventually discharged to the War Assets Administration (WAA) and returned to civil control.

Postwar use included storage and sale of surplus military aircraft, and it was also used by Bell Helicopter as flight test airfield during 1950s. Bell activities ended in late 1950s and the facility became a general aviation airfield, eventually falling into disuse and then closed.

See also

References

External links

  • Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History’s Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC, 2004.
  • Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942–2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas ASIN: B000NYX3PC
  • Taliaferro Field / Hicks Field at Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields
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