Dateland Army Airfield

Dateland Army Airfield

Infobox Military Structure
name=Datelan Army Airfield
partof = Arizona World War II Army Airfields
location= About 40 miles west of Yuma, Arizona

caption= 23 June 1996
type=USAAF Training Airfield
used= 1943-1945 (Active)
1945-1957 (Inactive)
controlledby=United States Army Air Forces
garrison= Fourth Air Force

Dateland Army Airfield is an abandoned military airfield located 40 miles east of Yuma, Arizona.

Military use

The airfield was established on 1 January 1943 as a United States Army Air Forces training airfield, being under the command of the 3037th Army Air Force Base Unit, AAF Western Flying Training Command. Dateland was a sub-Post of Yuma AAFld. Colfred, Stovall and Welton Gunnery rangers were also established nearby. Dateland was originally designed for single engine aircraft gunnery training, but was converted to twin engine gunnery school in September 1943.

The site was chosen due to the availability of water and the adjacent location of the Yuma Gunnery Range. Construction was completed on 1 June 1943, and he facility was first garrisoned on 8 July 1943. Facilities constructed at the site between 1943-1946 were 95 buildings, 3 runways, 4 taxiways, a gasoline station, water system, electrical distribution system, sewage disposal system and perimeter fences.

In addition to the security and maintenance of the base, the airmen provided services for several flying organizations, among those being Mather Army Airfield which based 60 North American B-25J Mitchell aircraft from 25 December 1943 to 20 January 1944, logging a total of 11,000 hours of flight training.

The base was reduced to caretaker status in 1945, and was left with a contingent of 12 men and an officer to maintain the base. For many years the airfield was used for storage of various aircraft components.

In 1957 the hangar and the other flight line buildings mysteriously burned down, and the Air Force sent in an investigation team to do an inventory on the B-25 parts and found none. The officer was court marshaled and the base was closed permanently in 1957.

Civil use

The airfield and all of its real estate was auctioned off in 1960 to private parties. In 1970 the base was subdivided into 3,300 lots leaving the airport intact. One owner was going to subdivide the airport area into lots and build small lakes. The airfield was apparently reopened as a private airfield at some point between 1971-77, however it was closed.

The present owners bought the Dateland property in 1995 and saved the airport from extinction. They planned to redevelop the airfield as a fly-in community, El Camino Del Sol Airpark, taking advantage of the extensive airfield facilities abandoned by the military. The developers tout it as "the largest fly in community in the USA", with a total of 427 lots having taxiway connections to the airfield, and a concrete ramp area big enough to park 300 planes. A motel and a museum were among the planned attributes. Unfortunately, the commercial venture to reopen Dateland as a residential airpark had evidently failed. The remains of a sales trailer/office in the southwest corner of the airfield was boarded up and abandoned, which indicates this venture must not have been successful.

The remains of 3 runways still exist (6/24, 16/34, and the longest - 1/19, 6,600' long), along with a large concrete ramp area. The only building remaining is a sand-filled concrete bunker previously used to sight the machine guns of the B-25 Mitchell bombers.

See also

* Arizona World War II Army Airfields


* Thole, Lou (1999), Forgotten Fields of America: World War II Bases and Training, Then and Now - Vol. 2. Publisher: Pictorial Histories Pub, ISBN 1575100517

External links

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