Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Minter Field
(Shafter Gap Filler Annex P-59A, Shafter Army Aviation Test Activity)
 
 
Minter Field was originally constructed under the Defense Landing Area Program for the U.S. Army as a flight training center near the town of Shafter, 13.5 miles northwest of Bakersfield. Although officially dedicated on Saturday, February 7, 1942, operations on Minter Field actually began in June of 1941 when the post was garrisoned by only a small guard unit. The base commander, Colonel Carl Pyle, established his headquarters on the Bakersfield Junior College campus in the city while base personnel camped out in temporary quarters scattered from Bakersfield to Wasco, located some fifteen miles to the northwest of Minter Field.
 
Minter Fields was a city within itself having served the 7,000 personnel stationed at the airfield during World War II for training, living and recreational needs. Although many of the facilities have been removed over the years, there was a chapel, swimming pool, theater, post office, and infirmary, among just a few of the services that were provided for those stationed here. The remaining buildings are now used as offices or warehouses including the Airport Administration Office.
 
By early August, 1941, multiple units began moving onto the field as construction of wooden buildings accelerated. In the beginning, the airport was known as Lerdo Field because of its close proximity to the highway of the same name. In October of 1941, the Minter Sub-Depot was established as a branch of the Sacramento Air Depot. There was a prisoner of war camp here that held about 600 prisoners of war.

The field was named in honor of First Lieutenant Hugh C. Minter, a member of the locally prominent Minter family. The Lieutenant, a World War I veteran, was killed in a mid-air collision over March Field in July, 1932.

In April of 1942, contracts for the construction of more than 65 on-base buildings were let while the constantly increasing numbers of cadets were housed in a large tent city erected as temporary shelter. By July of 1942, Minter Field had become the largest training base of its type on the West Coast, with nine auxiliary landing fields located in:
 
 
During the course of the War, more than 11,000 Army Air Corps Cadets graduated from Minter Field, deploying around the world to fly in all theaters of operations.

For a while it was known as Bakersfield Air Corps Flying School and offered pre-flight and basic flight training. Late in the war Chinese pilots trained here. The principle training aircraft was the Consolidated Vultee Valiant, affectionately known as the "Vultee Vibrator", powered by a 450 HP Pratt & Whitney Wasp R985 nine-cylinder radial. The aircraft had fixed gear and Hamilton-Standard two speed props. Other training aircraft included the Cessna UC-78 Bobcat, also known as the "Bamboo Bomber" because of its extensive use of lightweight wood in the fuselage and wings. The Cessna was a twin-engine "Light Personnel Transport" and advanced trainer. Aircraft also seen on the field during World War II included the AT-6 Texan trainer, B-25 Mitchell twin-engine bomber, and P-38 Lightning, as well as other widely used fighter, bomber and observation craft.
 
Upon the close of the war, the airfield was turned over to the County of Kern which managed the airport until 1985. In 1985 the Minter Field Airport District was formed by tenants and local citizens interested in aviation to take over the ownership and operation of the Airport from the County.
 
 
 
Minter Field By Justin M. Ruhge, Goleta Valley Historical Society
 
Named in honor of Hugh C. Minter, killed in an airplane collision on March Field on July 8, 1932. He was a World War I veteran and Commander of the 73`d Pursuit Squadron at March Field when his plane crashed in mid-air with another aircraft. In 1918 he joined the Army Air Corps after a year of study at Redlands University.

Minter Army Air Field was officially dedicated on February 7, 1942. Operations began in June 1941. By early August 1941, multiple units began arriving on the field as construction of wooden buildings accelerated. In the beginning the airport was known as Lerdo Field because of its close proximity to the highway of the same name. In October of 1941, the Minter sub-Depot was established as a branch of the Sacramento Air Depot. The Field Commander was Colonel Carl Pyle.

In April of 1942, contracts for the construction of more than 65 on-base buildings were let while the constantly increasing number of cadets was housed in a large tent city erected as temporary shelter.

By July 1942, Minter Field had become the largest training base of its type on the west coast with nine auxiliary landing fields. Auxiliary fields: Wasco Auxiliary Field Al, Famosa Auxiliary Field A3, Dunlap Auxiliary Field A4, Semi-tropic Auxiliary Field A5, Poso Auxiliary Field A6, Lost Hills Auxiliary Field A8, Minter No. 1 and Minter No. 2.

The training aircraft were Vultee BT-13s and UC-78s.

During the course of the War, more that 11,000 Army Air Corps Cadets graduated from Minter Field, deploying around the world to fly in all theaters of operations.
The field, in 2005, is still active in general aviation.

Reference: A Brief History of Minter Army Air Field, Shafter California, by the Minter-Field Air Museum, 1996.


Known Units Stationed at Minter Field

 1 June 1943 Army Station List

7 April 1945 Army Station List 
 
 Army Air Forces
Army Air Forces Basic Flying School
Aviation Cadet Detachment
Army Air ForcesWeather Station (Type B)
Finance Detachment
Medical Detachment (Colored)
Veterinary Detachment
Detachment, 1st Weather Squadron, Regional
7th Sub-Depot
23rd Aviation Squadron (Colored)
Detachment, 39th Air Freight Wing
64th Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron
324th Basic Flying Training Squadron
326th Basic Flying Training Squadron
327th Basic Flying Training Squadron
407th Aviation Squadron
525th Basic Flying Training Squadron
526th Basic Flying Training Squadron
739th Basic Flying Training Squadron
740th Basic Flying Training Squadron
Detachment 6, 858th Signal Service Company, Aviation
872nd Guard Squadron
Detachment 7, 909th Quartermaster Service Company, Aviation
974th Quartermaster Truck Platoon, Air Base (Colored)
Detachment 4, 2063rd Ordnance Service Company, Aviation
Army Air Forces
Army Air Forces Pilot School (Basic)
Third Echelon Repair Shop
35th Flying Training Wing
Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron
Section, 68th Army Air Forces Base Unit (1st Weather Region)
Detachment, Section D, 85th Army Air Forces Base Unit (101st Army
Airways Communications Service Squadron)
543rd Army Air Forces Band
3001st Army Air Force Base Unit (Headquarters 35th Flying Training
Wing)
3008th Army Air Forces Base Unit (Pilot School, Basic)
Women's Army Corps Squadron
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Army Air Forces
35th Flying Training Wing
Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron
543rd Army Air Forces Band
Detachment, 731st Army Air Forces Base Unit (101st Airways
Communications Service Squadron)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Extract, January 1945 US Army Air Forces Directory of Airfields
 
 
 
Shafter Gap Filler Annex
 
"During the late 1950s another area of progress was the development and deployment of AN/FPS-14 and AN/FPS-18 gap-filler radars. Having a range of around sixty-five miles, these radars were placed in areas where it was thought enemy aircraft could fly low to avoid detection by the longer-range radars of the permanent and mobile radar networks. Gap-filler radar deployment peaked in December 1960 at 131 sites throughout the continental United States. Because the introduction of gap-filler radars alleviated the need for civilians to scan the skies for enemy bombers, the ADC disestablished the Ground Observer Corps on January 31, 1959."
 
Searching The Skies
USAF Air Combat Command
June, 1997
 
Typical floorplan of a Gap Filler Annex
 
As the Cold War progressed, Minter Field again answered the call, But this time as the site for early warning radar. In late 1950 this Lashup site was operating an AN/CPS-4 radar. In June 1952 Mt. Laguna AFS (P-76) assumed coverage for this area. A planned long-range AC&W radar site at this location (Shafter AFS, designated SM-161) was never built; instead, gap-filler radar site P-59A was activated here, as well as remote GATR (Ground-to-Air Transmit and Receive) site R-10.
 
 
Shafter Army Aviation Test Activity
 
US Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District History (1992)
 
On 1 April 1968, the Department of Defense acquired 1.16 acres from the County of Kern through Lease No. DACA09-5-69-393. This included Parcel No. 1 of Tract 100 which contained 0.237 acres of land underlying Building T-58, and Parcel No. 2 which contained 0.918 acres of land adjoining Building T-58 to the northwest.

The subject property was used by Edwards Air Force Base, Army Aviation Test Activity, for performance testing of new aircraft to determine take-off, landing, and hovering data. A women's restroom and a 30,000-pound helicopter tiedown may have been constructed.

On 10 May 1973, Lease No. DACA09-5-69;393 with the County of Kern was terminated releasing 1.16 acres. Presently the property is owned by the Minter Field Airport District which uses the remaining concrete foundation of Building T-58 and adjoining property to the northwest for the storage of portable aircraft hangars.
 
 
Undated US Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District History
 
On 5 December 1942, the united states of America acquired Minter Field (Shafter Airport) by Eminent Domain in a Declaration of Taking from the County of Kern for the establishment of an Army Air Corps training center. In 1949 the airport was returned to the County of Kern by Quitclaim Deed, with recapture clause. It was during this period of military use that Building T-58 was constructed on the subject site.

On 1 April 1969, the Department of Defense acquired 1.l6 acres, including Building T-58, by lease from the County of Kern for the Shafter Aviation Test Activity site. Edwards Air Force Base,
Army Aviation Test Activity, used the property for aircraft performance testing until the lease was terminated on 10 May 1973. A women's restroom and a 30,000-pound helicopter tiedown
may have been constructed.

Currently the property is owned by the Minter Field Airport District. Building T-58 burned down in June 1988 leaving the foundation and associated subsurface structures. The foundation and adjoining property to the northwest are used for the storage of portable aircraft hangars.
 

Updated 23 October 2015