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Naval Auxiliary Air Facility (Lighter Than Air), Lompoc
 
NAAF Lompoc was a small blimp base 3/4 mile north of Lompoc. It was an auxiliary field to NAS, Santa Ana and had a landing strip for small planes.
 
NAAF Lompoc History by Paul Freeman
NAAF Lompoc by M.L. Shettle
 
NAAF Lompoc History
 
The development of a municipal airport was first considered by the town of Lompoc in 1920. The airfield was eventually established in 1928, on land bordered by H Street & O Street, and College Avenue & Pine Avenue.
 
The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory described the Lompoc Municipal Airport as having a rectangular 1,450' x 550' landing area, with a hangar on the southeast side of the field.
 
After the start of Word War II, a need was identified for an additional auxiliary field to support antisubmarine blimp operations from NAS Santa Ana. The Lompoc Airport site was chosen, and construction began in 1942.
 
The station was commissioned in 1943 as Lompoc Naval Auxiliary Airfield. Navy facilities consisted of a 1,000' x 500' asphalt landing mat, two blimp mooring masts, and barracks for a total of 97 personnel.
 
Five days after the commissioning of NAAF Lompoc, it suffered its only fatalities. Four ground handlers were electrocuted when a blimp they were mooring came into proximity of a nearby high voltage power line.
 
Typical operations at Lompoc during World War II consisted of a one or two blimp detachment from Santa Ana's ZP-31.
 
"NAAF Lompoc (LTA)" was described by the 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields as having a 1,000' hard-surface runway, with a dirigible mooring mast.
The last Navy blimp departed Lompoc in late 1945, and the station was placed into caretaker status. The base was returned to civilian control the following year, at which point it again became Lompoc's municipal airport.
 
In the post-World War II period, the airport property was overtaken by the rapid growth of the town of Lompoc. The City purchased land 1.5 miles to the north, and relocated the airport to that site in 1960. The old airport's property is now the location of Lompoc High School & a shopping center, with not a trace remaining of the former airfield.
 
Extracted from Abandoned and Little Known Airfields

NAAF Lompoc
by M.L. Shettle
 

Lompoc is located 45 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, near Point Arguello and Point Conception. The town was founded in 1874 as a temperance community on the site of Rancho Lompoc and Rancho Mission Vieja. The area eventually became a flower and mustard seed producing region. One of the most infamous episodes in the history of the U.S. Navy occurred 12 miles from Lompoc on the night of September 8, 1923. A navigation error in the fog caused all seven destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 7 to run aground in column on the rocks of Pt. Honda. The Navy lost more combat ships that night than during all of World War I, along with 23 lives. As early as 1920, the development of a municipal airport was considered. Inspired by Charles Lindbergh's flight in 1927. City leaders finally established an airport the next year.

After the completion of the blimp base at Santa Ana in October 1942, the Navy realized that an additional base was needed to provide adequate patrol coverage north of Los Angeles. After conducting extensive weather observations, the Navy chose the Lompoc Airport and leased a total of 65 acres from the City and private individuals. Construction began in December 1942 and when completed, included a 500 x 1000-ft. asphalt mat, two mooring masts, and barracks for 25 officers and 72 enlisted men.

The station commissioned on August 8, 1943. Five days later, tragedy struck the base. In the damp, foggy early morning hours, ground crews were maneuvering ship K-29 for launch from Circle #2. As the blimp's tail pendants approached a high-volt age power line, 11,000 volts arced through the ship. Of the ground crewmen holding the metal handling bars on the bottom of the blimp's cab, four men were electrocuted and a fifth severely burned. Witnesses to the accident reported that the pendants never actually touched the wires. This hazard had been identifled and the line was supposed to have been moved by the local electric power company. For whatever reason, it had not and four men lost their lives. These were the only fatalities at Lompoc during the airport's civilian and Navy use.

After this inauspicious beginning, operations at Lompoc were routine for the remainder of the war. The station was practically identical to Santa Ana's other auxiliary at Del Mar in both physical makeup and operation. One to two ship detachments were maintained at Lompoc by Santa Ana's ZP-31 and Blimp Headquarters Squadron Three. The last Navy blimp departed Lompoc on September 25, 1945, and the station placed on caretaker status. The Navy had approximately $220,000 invested in the facility. Lompoc remained on the Navy's books for another year, then returned to civilian control.

Located only one half mile north of Lompoc, the airport was overtaken by urban growth during the next 15 years. The City purchased land for a new facility approximately 1.5 miles to the north, and relocated to that site on November 12, 1960. The old airport's property was sold and currently is the location of a high school and shopping center.

Copied with the permission of the author from United States Naval Air Stations of World War II.


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