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FreightWaves Classics/ Infrastructure: Airport began as a USAAF airfield

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On September 23, 1942, an airport built for the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) opened near Frederick, in Tillman County, Oklahoma. Airport operations began about 10 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II.

Originally named Frederick Army Airfield, it was also available for civilian purposes under a joint-use agreement.

Emblem of the United States Army Air Forces Training Command.(Image: USAAF)

The airfield was one of a number of airfields built for the USAAF to train pilots, co-pilots, navigators and bombardiers as the United States ramped up its military operations. The airfield was assigned to United States Army Air Forces Gulf Coast Training Center (later known as Central Flying Training Command). It was used as an advanced twin-engine pilot training airfield. 

A World War II USAAF recruiting poster. (Image: digital.library.unt.edu)
A World War II USAAF recruiting poster. (Image: digital.library.unt.edu)

Frederick Army Airfield was built with four hard-surfaced runways. Three of the runways were each 6,000-feet in length; the fourth was 4,380 feet long. Additionally, the airfield had four auxiliary airfields for emergency and overflow landings.

Thousands of USAAF personnel cycled through the airfield, which was part of the Army Air Forces Training Command, or AAFTC. Once trained, the personnel were transferred to other bases and many went on to assignments overseas. With the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945 and in the Pacific in September 1945, military operations at the airfield ceased on October 31, 1945. It was inactivated with the drawdown of AAFTC’s pilot training program. 

Class book for advanced pilot class 44-F at Frederick Army Air Field, Frederick, Oklahoma. 
(Photo: United States Army Air Forces)
Class book for advanced pilot class 44-F at Frederick Army Air Field, Frederick, Oklahoma.
(Photo: United States Army Air Forces)

The airfield was declared as surplus property and was transferred to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on September 21, 1946 – just two days shy of its fourth “birthday.” It was eventually discharged to the War Assets Administration and the former military airfield became Frederick Municipal Airport, a commercial airport.

The facility is now named Frederick Regional Airport, a city-owned, public-use airport.

FreightWaves Classics thanks americanairmuseum.com, military-history.fandom.com, the museumofflight.org, visitfrederickok.com and other sources for information and photos that contributed to this article.

Emblem (shoulder sleeve insignia) used by the United States Army Air Forces before it was created as its own military service, the United States Air Force, in 1947. Continues to be used by the USAF as one of its emblems, known as the "Hap" Arnold Wings. (Image: USAF)
Emblem (shoulder sleeve insignia) used by the United States Army Air Forces before it was created as its own military service, the United States Air Force, in 1947. Continues to be used by the USAF as one of its emblems, known as the “Hap” Arnold Wings. (Image: USAF)

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