Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Palm Springs Army Air Field
(La Paz Hotel Housing Facility, Rifle Range)
Palm Springs Army Air Field (Palm Springs Historical Society)
In March 1941, the War Department certified improvements to the existing airport in Palm Springs as essential to National Defense. Palm Springs had been used by the Army and Commercial airlines as an emergency landing field due to its clear weather and its proximity to March Field and the Los Angeles area. The airport was approved to serve as a staging field by the Air Corps Ferrying Command in November 1941. Land was acquired to build a major airfield one half miles from the old airfield site. The new airfield was completed in early 1942, and thereafter the old air field was used only as a backup landing site. Many of the field's personnel stayed at the comfortable Lapaz Guest Ranch nearby. In the spring of 1944 the ATC's training operations moved to Brownsville, TX. The auxiliary field or backup field was declared surplus on 12 May 1945 and the main airfield was declared excess and transferred to the War Assets Administration for disposal in 1946.
US Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District History (1994)
The 1,680.61-acre Palm Springs Army Air Field site was acquired as follows:
In addition to the above acreage,the War Department had a service contract for use of a water pumping plant and the 9.4 acres upon which the plant was situated. The Army thus occupied a total of 1690.01 acres in association with the Palm Springs Army Air Field.
This site was occupied by the Army Air Forces (Continental Division of the Air Transport Command) and was used as a service station. When acquired, the property consisted of unimproved, unirrigated desert land (and mountainous land in the case of certain beacon sites), although the Civil Aeronautics Association (CAA) was planning certain improvements (runways, taxiways, etc.) at this site. The acreage acquired in fee was improved with two hangars; 122 buildings including barracks, headquarters, warehouses, mess halls, ammunition storage, and a photo lab; and water, electrical, telephone and telegraph systems. Included in the subject property was the Torney General Hospital sewage disposal plant (-0.5 mile south of the main airfield) and rights of way; improvements included a storage building, screen chamber, pump house, primary clarifier, measuring flume, digester, gas burner, sludge and percolation beds and over 14,000 feet of sewer pipe. The 10-acre use permit area and 100 of the leased acres were used for beacon lights and access roads located approximately 3 miles south/southeast and 3 to 5 miles northeast of the main airfield. Additionally, the Army leased the 10-acre La Paz Hotel as a housing facility during the war.

Leased acreage also included the original Palm Springs Municipal Airport, a 160-acre auxiliary landing field located 0.5 mile west of the main airfield, which was used for combat and small aircraft, and may have included a club house. The remaining leased acreage was 'improved with 33 Theater of Operations type buildings; two 6,000 to 7,000-foot runways; four taxiways; extension to runways and taxiways; parking apron; 51 hardstands; electrical, water and telephone systems; and aircraft fueling and field lighting systems. The majority of the property that was occupied by runways and taxiways was in a 610.7-acre joint use area; private and commercial aircraft were allowed in this area. The original runways {4000 and 5000 feet), a taxiway, parking apron, and basic lighting' system may have been built by the CAA. At one point during Army Air Forces occupancy, Western Airlines, Inc. occupied one building and was making daily landings under a revocable license from the Government.

The 441.45 acres which were acquired by transfer, fee, and lessor interests, as well as 1,078.66 acres lease, were declared surplus 31 May 1946 and transferred to the War Assets Administration for disposal effective 2 December 1946. The remaining 160.50 acres were disposed of by lease cancellations dated 27 August 1945 (for 0.5 acres) and 31 July 1946 (for 160-acre auxiliary field). The above mentioned service contract involving 9.4 acres was apparently terminated in approximately 1946 along with the other utility, service agreements. At about the time the property was declared surplus, an interim license was being negotiated to allow the: City of Palm Springs to use airport facilities, including hangars, buildings, gasoline fueling systems, available utility systems, and the sewage treatment plant for operation of a public airport. The majority of the former airfield site is currently under withdrawal to the Agua Caliente Band of Mission Indians. The remainder of the site is owned by private landowners or the City of Palm Springs, and is used for a mixture of residential and commercial developments.

The City of Palm Springs owns the property occupied by the Palm Springs Regional Airport. The City also operates a sewage treatment plant on the site of the former Army treatment plant, and the balance of that former la-acre property is occupied by a City recreational facility. The ;former beacon sites are all under private ownership except for one site in Section 36, which is owned by the State of California.
Other Online Histories:
Palm Springs Desert-Sun
Palm Springs Air Museum

Extract, War Department Inventory of Owned, Sponsored and Leased Facilities, 1945

Air Transport Command Ferrying Division Operation Training

La Paz Hotel Housing Facility
Rifle Range
Extract, US Army Air Forces Directory of Airfields (January 1945)
Known Units at Palm Springs Army Air Field




 Army Station List
1 June 1943
Army Air Forces:
  • Training Detachment, Army Air Forces Accumulation Point
  • Army Air Forces Weather Station (Type D)
  • Detatchment, 1st Weather Squadron, Regional
  • 21st Ferrying Group
    • Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron
    • 72nd and 73rd Ferrying Squadrons
  • 459th Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron
  • Detachment, 866th Signal Service Company, Aviation
  • 1270th Guard Squadron
 Army Station List
 7 April 1945
Army Air Forces:
  • Third Echelon Repair Shop
  • Section, 68th Army Air Forces Base Unit (1st Weather Region)
  • 560th Army Air Forces Base Unit (21st Ferrying Group)
    • Women's Army Corps Squadron
  • 723rd Army Air Forces Band
  • Flights 35-38, 830 Medical Air Evacuation Squadron
 Army Station List
 7 May 1946
Army Air Forces:
  • Section, 68th Army Air Forces Base Unit (1st Weather Region)
  • 560th Army Air Forces Base Unit (Ferrying Service Station)
    • Women's Army Corps Squadron

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Updated 30 March 2016