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
Oroville Presicion Bombing Range
(Oroville Auxiliary Field)

In 1944, the United States Government acquired fee title to 360.06 acres of land by four Declarations of Taking.

The site has been referred to as Chico Auxiliary No.5; Chico AAF; Auxiliary Field A 5; Auxiliary Landing Field A 5; Chico Army Flying School; Oroville Auxiliary Field A5 (Auxiliary to Chico AAF); Chico Army Airfield (Oroville Auxiliary Field A 5); Chico Auxiliary Bombing Range A 5; Basic Flying School; Oroville A 5 Satellite Field; Chico Field; and Fifth Satellite Field near Oroville, in Butte County. The site was used as an auxiliary landing field, a practice precision bombing range, and a dive and skip bombing training range. Improvements to the site included a building, latrine, fencing, and a landing mat surfaced with oil.

On 1 October 1944, the site was classified by the U.S. Government as a surplus supply location; then on .18 June 1945, the site was reestablished as a landing field. It was again reclassified as a surplus supply location on 1 November 1946.

On 28 February 1947, 360.06 acres were transferred to the War Assets Administration for disposal. It is currently undedveloped grasslands

Source: US Army Corps of Engineers Public FUDS GIS Site



History
By CW3 Mark Denger
California Center for Military History

On March 26, 1942 the Secretary of War determined the need to establish Auxiliary Landing Field A-5, for use by the Army Air Forces, Ninth Service Command, Chico Army Flying School, Chico, California. The determination of a military necessity was based upon the approval of the Commanding General, Army Air Forces on July 16, 1942. Funds for this purpose were authorized by Public Law 649, 77th Congress, approved July 2, 1942. Subsequently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was directed to acquire the necessary land in accordance with Section VII of Circular No. 47, War Department.

Accordingly, a Lis Pendens dated August 10, 1942 was filed in the District Court of the United States in and for the Northern District of California, Northern Division, in the matter of United States of America vs. 360 acres of land in Butte County, State of California, Sam F. Brown, Haxel L. Brown, Thomas A. Green, Albert L. lnman, County of Butte, State of California, et al.; which was recorded on August 20, 1942, Book 305, page 107, Official Records of Butte County, California.

At the time of acquisition, the Oroville Precision Bombing Range site was known as an Army Auxiliary Field and as such was known by many names including Chico Army Flying School; Chico Basic Flying School, Oroville A-5; Oroville Auxiliary Field A-5; Chico Auxiliary Field A-5; Auxiliary Landing Field A-5; Oroville Satellite Field A-5; and Chico Satellite A-5, and was located off of State Route 149, less than a mile from where State Route 70 intersects the highway, approximately 6 miles northwest of the city of Oroville, 25 miles southwest of Chico, in Butte County, California.

The subject property was located on four (4) parcels of land, being in the County of Butte, State of California, consisting of 360.06 acres, more or less, more particularly described as follows:

Tract A: The North half of North half of Southeast quarter of Section 16, Township 20 North, Range 3 East, M.D.B.&M.,

Tract B: South half of North haf of Southeast quarter; and South half of Southeast quarter of Section 16, Township 20 North, Range 3 East, M.D.B.&M.; Northeast quarter of Northeast quarter of Section 21, Township 20 North, Range 3 East, M.D.B.&M.

Tract C: East half of Southwest quarter of Section 16, Township 20 North, Range 3 East, M. 0. B. & M.; Northeast quarter of Northwest quarter, and Northwest quarter of Northeast quarter of Section 21, Township 20 North, Range 3 East, N. D. B. & M.

Tract D: That certain parcel of land situate in the County of Butte, State of California, bounded by a line which begins at the West quarter of Section 15, Township 20 North, Range 3 East, M. D. B. & M., and runs thence North 00 19' 40" West, along the westerly boundary line of said Section 15, 4.0 feet to a point in the southwesterly boundary line of the County road traversing said Section 15; thence South 33° 22' 20" East, along said southwesterly boundary line, 75.00 feet; thence 34° 47' 20" West 71.1 feet to a point in the westerly boundary line of said Section 15; thence North 0° 19 40" West along the westerly boundary line of said Section 15, to the point of beginning, containing 0.06 acre, more or less.

Judgment on said Declaration of Taking No. 1 (4520) was filed on November 14, 1942 in the District Court of the United States in and for the Northern District of California, Northern Division, under United States of America vs. 360 acres of land in Butte County, State of California, Sam F. Brown, Haxel L. Brown, Thomas A. Green, Albert L. lnman, County of Butte, State of California, et al; recorded November 20, 1942, Book 312, Page 12, Official Records of Butte County, California.

Facilities Constructed

When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took possession of the property there were no improvements of any description. As the property was originally designed for flying school training purposes, the government made the following improvements:

A landing mat (field), running in a north-south direction, was leveled and surfaced with oil, covering 206.6 acres and having dimensions of 3,000 ft. x 3,000 ft., with an entrance road from the highway to landing mat, 800 lineal feet, with a gravel and oiled surface. Three buildings were also constructed:

(1) Stagehouse 14' x 16', wooden frame;
(2) Latrine 6' x 6' wooden frame; and
(3) Crash truck and crew shelter 10' x 20', open face, timber frame.

Approximately 15,500 lineal feet of fence with 20" woven wire base and three strands of barbed wire on cedar and redwood posts set 16' apart were utilized to secure the airfield.

Operational Period

From roughly September 1942 to September 1944, the Site was used primarily as a pilot training field (basic) and then as an auxiliary landing field. In September 1944, in accordance with a Declaration of Surplus, the Fourth Air Force declared the Oroville Auxiliary Air Field excess to the needs of the Army Air Forces. An informal survey indicated that there was no further War Department need that could be foreseen and recommended that the subject auxiliary field, along with Orland and Kirkwood Auxiliary Fields in Glenn County, Vina and Cambell Auxiliary Fields in Tehama County, be placed in the category of surplus and disposed of in accordance with War Department Circular 306, 1944. On September 28, 1944, Oroville Auxiliary Field A-5 was placed in the category of surplus and its disposition approved. Meanwhile, the Final Judgment in Condemnation Awarding Just Compensation for Tracts A, B, C and D, as Described in Amended Complaint and Declaration of Taking No. 1 (4502), was filed in open court on February 15, 1945.

On February 27, 1945 the subject airfield was requested to be withdrawn from the category of surplus as said property was required for carrying out simulated skip and dive bombing training by the Army Air Forces. Oroville Auxiliary Field A-5 was removed from the surplus category on June 25, 1945 and placed in an active status under the jurisdiction of the Commanding General, Army Air Forces until it was again reclassified and declared as surplus to the needs of government in June 1946.

War Assets Period

Having been declared as surplus to the needs of the government, on September 24, 1946 Lt. Col. Andre F. Castellotti, AC, Commanding, Headquarters Castle Field, certified that Chico Auxiliary Bombing Range A-S had been inspected and had been decontaminated on September 4 by the Base Armament Officer, Captain Arthur L. Nash, after several thousand practice bombs and unexploded spotting charges were removed from the field.

On December 3, 1946 a declaration was filed with the War Assets Administration, who assumed custody and accountability on February 28, 1947. According to the Narrative under Schedule 9 of the S.P.B.-5 Report, the subject property was determined that its "use as a flying field" by private parties was "highly improvable" and that the "sandy gravelly surfaced loam" and "compact clay subsoil and lava formation" was "generally not adaptable to cultivation.

Updated 18 May 2008


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