Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Gary Field
(Morton Air Academy Contract Flying School, includes Auxiliary Field No. 4)
Gary Field in 1943.
The airfield opened on June 29, 1942. Known as Blythe Field and Gary Field, it began training United States Army Air Forces flying cadets under contract to Morton Air Academy. Assigned to United States Army Air Forces West Coast Training Center (later Western Flying Training Command) as a primary (level 1) pilot training airfield. It had three 2,100' active hard-surfaced runways and three local axillary airfields for emergency and overflow landings. Flying training was performed with Fairchild PT-19s as the primary trainer; it also had several PT-17 Stearmans assigned. Known sub-bases and auxiliaries assigned to the field were:
It was inactivated on August 4, 1944 with the drawdown of AAFTC's pilot training program, then declared surplus and turned over to the Army Corps of Engineers on September 30, 1945. Eventually discharged to the War Assets Administration (WAA), and the facilities of the former airport were reused by Palo Verde Community College. The college opened at the site on September 15, 1947 and it was at this point that any aviation use of the airfield presumably ended.
Palo Verde College opened its doors as a junior college, having an initial enrollment of seventeen students. By 1950, enrollment had reached 250. In September 1958, the College moved to East Hobsonway, and closed its facilities at the former airport.
The site of Gary Field was reused as a private airfield beginning in 1981 as W. R. Byron Airport and is a privately owned airfield.
Today, many of the original hangars & buildings remain standing. In particular, the characteristic irregular arrangement of the barracks buildings which remains at the site make the location of Gary Field very much recognizable. One of the large arch-roof hangars remains standing (at the southwest corner of the group of buildings), as well as the tower/operations building (just north of the large hangar), as well as one smaller hangar (northeast of the tower/operations building). The second large hangar (at the northwest corner of the site) was apparently removed, but its foundation is still clearly recognizable.
An interesting sidebar to history puts billionaire Kirk Kerkorian at Morton Air Academy as a flight instructor during the early World War II period flying throughout the California desert; he made a first career flying charters, and later building hotels like the MGM Grand years later.
Source: Wikipedia 2 December 2014
Morton Air Academy
by Justin Ruhge
The Morton Air Academy was one of many in California that trained men to fly on a Ryan or Stearman aircraft. Morton was located at Blythe Municipal Airport. In addition to the Academy, an Army Air Base was established at the Airfield. Overnight the population of less than 4,000 residents in Blythe jumped to 8,000 soldiers and several hundred WACs.
Morton had a capacity of 550 students and employed about 500 civilians with a payroll of $1.2 million. The Academy operated from June 1942 to August 1944 during which it graduated several thousand pilots. The facilities were built overnight. There were three hangars, a control tower, administration building, barracks and aircraft maintenance buildings.
At war's end, the structures at the Army Airbase were moved away from the Airport. The Academy buildings were left for the use of the city. From 1946 to 1958 the Academy buildings served as Palo Verde High School and for a time housed Palo Verde College as well. After that, two companies manufactured prefabricated homes there. In 1979 the property was owned by Willard Byron who planned a housing project on the site, next to the Blythe Municipal Golf Course.
Army Units Assigned to Gary Field

 Data Source


 Army of the United States Station List  1 June 1943
Air Depot Detachment (AAF)
Contract Flying School (Primary) (AAF)
10th Army Air Forces Flying Training Detachment (AAF)
AAF - Army Air Forces units | AGF - Army Ground Forces | ASF - Army Service Forces units | WDC - Western Defense Command
Additional History
Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields
Extract, Army Air Forces Airfield Guide, January 1945
Blythe Auxiliary Field No. 4
Gary Field in 1959 Blythe Auxiliary Field No. 4 is clealry shown to the west.
This 2,500 foot long strip was located to the west and adjacent to Gary Field.

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Updated 8 February 2016