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Minter Field
(Shafter Gap Filler Annex)
 
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.
 
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.
 
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

 
Army Air Forces Basic Flying School
Aviation Cadet Detachment

Updated 18 Apr 08


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