Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Howard Auxiliary Field
(MercedAuxiliary Field No. 3)
by Mark Denger
California Center for Military History

The War Department acquired the 480-acre site by means of two (2) leases. The field was used as an auxiliary field by the Air Corps. Howard Auxiliary Field was used exclusively for the training of pilots based at the Merced Army Flying School.

Howard Auxiliary Field consisted of a 3,000-square foot dust palliative landing mat sprayed with oil to suppress dust and debris during take-offs and landings. Typically, five Vultee BT-13 "Valiant" or BT-15 "Valiant" basic training aircraft were dispatched from the Merced Army Flying School to the auxiliary field for basic pilot training. Up to two training squadrons stationed at Howard Field at any given time while training there. Students train in 8 hour shifts with instructor acting as traffic controller from the air, directing and evaluating landings and take-offs. In mid-1944, a few Boeing PT-17 "Stearman", for advanced training, and North American AT-6 "Texan" trainers also saw use at Howard Field.

In a circular dated 5 January 1944, the U.S. Army Air Forces stated that the Site was to be disposed of due to poor drainage and generally unfavorable conditions. The site was declared surplus to the needs of the U.S. Army and reported as surplus on 15 April 1944. No structures appear to have been built on the site, and the only improvement was a landing mat. The landing mat was unsurfaced. The two leases involved (totaling 480 acres) were canceled on 7 August 1944 and 4 September 1944.

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Updated 8 February 2016