California State Military Department
The California State Military Museum
A United States Army Museum Activity
Preserving California's Military Heritage
Historic California Posts, Stations and Airfields
Half Moon Bay Flight Strip
(Naval Outlying Field, Half Moon Bay)
by Command Sergeant Major (CA) Dan Sebby

Half Moon Bay Flight Strip was authorized 15 October 1942 as a sub-base of Salinas Army Air Base. At the same time was the construction of a single runway on 110.33 acres of federally owned land under the control of the Public Roads Administration of the Federal Works Administration. Actual construction was accomplished by the Division of Highways, California Department of Public Works (now California Department of Transportation or "CALTRANS") and that the lengthening of the runway was accomplished by the Public Roads Administration and not the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Available documentation indicates that the 110.33 acre tract was never formally transferred to the War Department and remained under the control of the Public Roads Administration until its conveyance to the County of San Mateo in 1947. (War Assets Administration Property Case Files)

Half Moon Bay Flight Strip

In November 1943, the War Department initially acquired 11.78 acres by lease in the area known as the Half Moon Bay Colony Subdivision. The purpose of this area has yet to be determined, but the Station List of the Army of the United States, published on 1 June 1943 by the Adjutant General of the U.S. Army indicates that the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 125th Infantry Regiment (Western Defense Command) and a detachment of one of its rifle companies were in the vicinity.

From January to April 1943 the USACE began acquiring land by purchase and condemnation proceedings in area between the Public Road Administration's tract and State Highway 1. In this area, the USACE contracted taxiway that were connected to the a now extended runway, protective revetments, fuel storage and distribution systems, roadways, and administrative buildings. When completed, the Site had a single bituminous runway measuring 5,000 feet x 150 feet, two fuel units, each capable fueling four aircraft simultaneously, protective revetments for 23 aircraft and billeting and messing facilities for small garrison of 56 enlisted soldiers and six officers. Available documents do not indicate the presence of maintenance or ammunition storage facilities.

As a sub-base of the Salinas Army Air Base, the Site would have supported that base's ground support mission to train light observation and reconnaissance squadrons. These would have been light aircraft and fighters modified with camera equipment. Salinas Army Air base also had the mission of conducting coastal patrols. As such, the Site would have been garrisoned by a detachment of the 301st Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron. (armyairforces.com)


View of Half Moon Bay Flight Strip with three aircraft located on Fueling Base No. 2. Point Pillar Military Reservation is in the background.

With the reorganization of the Army Air Forces that took place in the first quarter of 1944, the Site was transferred to Air Technical Service Command and garrisoned by its own unit, the 4159th Army Air Forces Base Unit (Air Base). The mission of this unit was to operate the airfield for emergency landings, transient aircraft, and training missions. Other than refueling aircraft, no aircraft services would have been available. At the same time as this reorganization, the War Department terminated the leases that made up the 11.78 acre tract northwest of the reservation. (armyairforces.com)

On 1 June 1945, the War Department issued a five year permit to the U.S. Navy to operate the Site as "Outlying Field, Half Moon Bay". Per Physical Properties and Facilities of the Principal Naval Activities and Offices Located in the 12th Naval District, dated June 1945, the Site was:

As an outlying field under Naval Air Station Moffett Field, to furnish facilities for utility aircraft providing target towing service for the Anti-Aircraft Training Center, Point Montera, California.

With the end of World War II, the U.S. Navy ended training at the Point Montera site. With that in mind, the U.S. Navy terminated its permit with the War Department on 5 March 1946 and returned control to the War Department. The USACE in turn declared the site excess to the needs of the U.S. Army on 1 August 1946. Custody of the 217.68 acre War Department tract was assumed by the War Assets Administration (WAA) on 1 February 1947. Concurrent with the change of custody was the WAA's issuance of a license to the County of San Mateo to operate a public airport on the Site. In a letter from the Civil Aeronautics Administration to the Chief of the Airports Division of the WAA dated 4 February 1947, the that agency is informed that the similar action was being taken by the Public Roads Administration to allow the County of San Mateo to use the runway pending formal transfer.

On 26 September 1947, the War Assets Administration quitclaimed the 217.68 acre tract to the County of San Mateo. Language in that quitclaim deed indicates that this conveyance was done simultaneously as the Public Roads Administration's conveyance of its 110.66 acre tract to the County of San Mateo.


Updated 8 April 2007


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