Climate for Air Training
Arizona’s airfields played an integral role in the skies during World War Two. They also included training areas for American and European soldiers. During this troubling time, there were many soldiers in need of training. Mainly British soldiers trained in Arizona. The climate in Arizona is ideal for flying; clear skies and warm temperatures are present year round. These conditions made Arizona one of the most suitable states to train amateur pilots. Falcon Field was one of the more prominent airfield training facilities in Arizona; it trained the most pilots out of all the other airfields in Arizona. The remnants of Arizona’s involvement in WWII can still be seen today.
The soldiers at the camps left behind several of their training components as the war came to a close. One of these components, a large white sign stuck on Usery Mountain remains in Phoenix to this day. This colossal sign spelled out “PHOENIX” with an arrow pointing toward downtown Phoenix. The reason why this sign was put here is actually quite interesting. Many pilots training in Arizona were not familiar with the landscape. They did not know which direction the field’s landing strip was facing when they were in the air. The white sign helped direct the pilots toward the landing strip safely. In addition to the sign pilots left behind, they also left extensive airfields along with the airplanes they used to train, such as B-17s and P-51s.
People from around the world may underestimate the effect that Arizona had on WWII. By training pilots, Arizona increased the amount of men fighting for the allied powers in Europe. Ultimately, this led to a higher chance of winning battles against the Axis Powers. The pilots and soldiers that trained in Arizona helped win many of the battles in WWII. Without training here in Arizona, the outcome of the war may have been different. Airfields were not as extensive in other states because of the ideal climate that is found in Arizona. Arizona also has a lot of open space compared to other states. This assured the pilots that any large buildings were not there to accidentally crash into. The airplanes that were used to train pilots all throughout WWII were moved to the aircraft cemetery in Tucson, Arizona. Other famous specific aircraft went on display at museums around Arizona and the nation. The aircraft used in training the pilots still remains today as a symbol of Arizona’s war effort. Even though the airfields of Arizona no longer stand like they did during WWII, they still reveal important stories about Arizona’s history.
Many of the once deserted airfields have now been converted to serve commercial and military uses. Falcon Field Army Airfield is now Falcon Field Airport. This airport serves private and commercial services on light aircraft to the surrounding cities. Williams Army Airfield has now become the well-known Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airport which caters to a large amount of Phoenix’s population. Low-cost carriers fly out of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway to several locations across the U.S. Luke Army Airfield was acquired by the United States Air Force and turned into the famous Luke AFB which continues to train air force pilots, continuing the legacy of the WWII trainers. Dateland Army Airfield near Yuma used to be an important training center before it was closed and abandoned.
Arizona’s legacy as a major participant in WWII is known by few around the nation, though Arizona holds one of the richest histories regarding WWII. Since Arizona was the training place of many WWII soldiers, they began to grow indifferent to the unique climate and inviting atmosphere of the state. After the war, many veterans returned to Arizona to raise and live with their families. This contributed to the population of metropolitan Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff. The large number of aircraft being used in Arizona also helped the state to get into the aircraft industry, which still thrives today. All of these things that Arizona did for the pilots eventually led to the flourishing of the states and helped America win the Second World War.