Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Gardner Field
Gardner Field, 1943
Gardner Field
by Richard E. Osbourne
Gardner Field was a small Army Air Forces training field authorized in 1940 and activated in 1941. It was located 9 miles southeast of Taft. The field was operated by the Air Technical Service Command. Gardner operated BT-13 & PT-17 aircraft for primary training. The original configuration of the airfield at Gardner is unknown, but it was depicted on the 1945 Mojave Aeronautical Chart with the symbol indicating that its longest runway was between 5,500-6,500'. Auxiliary air fields serving Gardner Field were:
Although the date of closure of Gardner AAF is unknown, it was still depicted as an active military airfield on the 1944 Los Angeles Sectional Chart. Gardner most likely closed shortly after the end of World War II, if not before. It was no longer depicted as an airfield of any kind on the 1964 LA Sectional Chart.
Source: World War II Sites in the United States: A Tour Guide and Directory by Richard E. Osbourne
Gardner Field
by Justin Ruhge
Named in honor of John H. Gardner, veteran Indian fighter and an officer in the United States Calvary for thirty-seven years. He graduated from West Point Military Academy in 1881 and entered the 9th Calvary.

In January 1941 the government leased 985 acres 9 miles east of Taft. Construction began in April 1941 and the site was dedicated as the "Gardner Field Army Forces Basic Flying School" on October 26, 1941. Eventually some 112 buildings costing $3 million were completed. Basic training at Gardner Field began on June 7,1941 for a ten-week program. The Cadets trained in static ground trainers known as Link Trainers and single engine Vultee BT-13As aircraft. The base was in operation 46 months, graduating 37 classes for a total of 8,916 Cadets, many of whom became famous combat pilots in Europe and the Pacific.
Auxiliary fields for Gardner Field were: Parker No. 1, Kern No. 2, Allen No. 3, Conners No. 4, Cuyama No. 6. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers purchased Allen Field in June 1941. Its 260 acres were located 20 miles east of Maricopa. Allen Field was a paved landing strip used by the Army pilots as a training field for practicing landing and take-off maneuvers, and as an emergency landing field. No structures were located at the site. The field was declared surplus in September 1945 and eventually returned to its former owners.
The Gardner Field newspaper was "The Flight Dispatcher". The paper reported that some 26 pilots were killed while at the Field. Forty members of the WACs arrived in July 1943. The Field had a payroll of $100,000 per month and employed 350 men at its peak during the war.

The first commander was Colonel Kenneth C. McGregor from May 1941 to September 1942.
As with many of the fields, after the war Gardner Field was closed and the buildings sold off at auction. In 2005 there is little evidence that the field ever existed.
References: Gardner Field: 1941-1945, by John Ludeke, Quarterly Bulletin Historic Kern, Kern County Historical Society, Vol. 45, No. 1 March 1995.
US Army Corps of Engineers History
Gardner Field, 20 January 1942. Note the prescence of defensive revetments for bombers.
A total of 1396.36 acres were acquired by the US Army prior to and during World War II. On 24 January 1941, 880 acres of the site were leased from County of Kern, State of California. On 28
April 1941, 45.18 acres of the site were leased from County of Kern, State of California. The following acres were acquired on their respective dates through Declarations of Taking from private citizens: 15 October 1942 - 6.97 acres; 31 December 1942 - 360 acres; 14 January 1943 - 80 acres. On 20 February 1943, 20.91 acres of the site was leased from private parties, and on
12 May 1943, 3.3 acres of the site was leased from Standard Oil Company of California.

The 1396.36-acre site was known as Gardner Field. The airfield was used primarily as a landing and training field. Improvements to the site included the construction of asphalt runways and various structures and buildings, such as hangars and living quarters. In addition, a sewage treatment plant was built, remnants of which could still be seen today.

3. On 29 May 1946, Gardner Field was declared as surplus property. On 18 October 1948, 120 acres of the site were quitclaimed back to the original owner. On 24 November 1948, 80 acres of the site were deeded back to the original owner through a quitclaim deed. On 17 January 1949, 160 acres were quitclaimed to a private party. On 24 January 1949, 80 acres were disposed of through a quitclaim deed. On 22 March 1949, 6.97 acres were quitclaimed to a private party. It is surmised that the 949.39 acres originally leased reverted back to the respective owners upon expiration of the leases. Currently, the site is being used for farmland.
Source: Sacramento District, US Army Corps of Engineers
Extract, US Army Air Forces Airfield Directory, January 1945
Additional Histories
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    Known Units at Gardner Field

     Data Source


      7 December 1941 
    Headquarters, Air Corps Basic Flying School
    328th School Squadron
    329th School Squadron
    545th School Squadron
    Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, 73rd Air Base Group (Special):
    79th Material Squadron (Special)
    63rd Air Base Squadron (Special)
    Air Force Band
    Sub Depot
    Detachment, 1st Communications Squadron
    Detachment, 1st Weather Squadron
    Detachment, 853rd Ordnance Service Company (Aviation)
    Detachment, Company L, 34th Quartermaster Regiment (Truck)
    Detachment, Company A, 93rd Quartermaster Battalion (Light Maint)
    Detachment, 858th Signal Service Company (Aviation)
     Army of the United States Station List  1 June 1943
    Army Air Forces Basic Flying School (AAF)
    Army Air Forces Weather Station (Type B) (AAF)
    Finance Detachment (AAF)
    Medical Detachment (AAF)
    Veterinary Detachment (AAF)
    Detachment, 1st Airways Communications Station (AAF)
    Detachment, 1st Weather Squadron, Regional (AAF)
    43rd Army Air Forces Band (AAF)
    63rd Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron (AAF)
    98th Basic Flying Training Group (AAF)
    Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron (AAF)
    329th Basic Flying Training Squadron (AAF)
    545th Basic Flying Training Squadron (AAF)
    741st Basic Flying Training Squadron (AAF)
    742nd Basic Flying Training Squadron (AAF)
    743rd Basic Flying Training Squadron (AAF)
    305th Sub-Depot (AAF)
    Detachment 3, 858th Signal Service Company, Aviation (AAF)
    Detachment 8, 909th Quartermaster Service Company, Aviation (AAF)
    959th Guard Squadron (AAF)
    Detachment 5, 2053rd Ordnance Company, Aviation (AAF)
     Army of the United States Station List 7 April 1945
    Third echelon Repair Shop (AAF)
    4183rd Army Air Forces Base Unit (Air Base) (AAF)
    AAF - Army Air Forces units | AGF - Army Ground Forces unit | ASF - Army Service Forces units | WDC - Western Defense Command

    Extract, War Department Inventory of Owned, Sponsored and Leased Facilities, December 1945


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    Updated 8 March 2016