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Sherwood Field
(Naval Outlying Field, Paso Robles)
by Master Sergeant (Retired) Al Davis
Curator, Camp Roberts Historical Museum

Sherwood Field was began in the late 1920s as a private airport owned by T A Osborne. It had two dirt strips with a few locally-owned aircraft. In those days it was quite an event to have "barnstormers" visit Paso Robles, and when they did, the whole city turned out to see them. Rides were offered for only a $1.00.

At some point, the field became known as Paso Robles Airport. The Standard Oil Company's 1929 "Airplane Landing Fields of the Pacific West" described Paso Robles as a commercial airport operated by Perry Tucker. The airfield configuration was said to consist of a 2,000' northeast/southwest runway, along with auxiliary runways on the north & east. A small hangar was said to be on the northeast corner of the field.

Sherwood was also used as a stopover for Goodyear blimps traveling up & down the coast in the 1930s. The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory described Paso Robles Municipal Airport as having three dirt runways, with the longest being a 3,300' northeast/southwest strip.

In 1940, a flying club, in joint ownership with the Paso Robles airport, was planned. The committee anticipated a $10,000 improvement program tentatively promised by the Civil Aviation Authority. A field survey by the CAA was completed with the team recommending a beacon, radio signal tower, and weather station. The runways at Sherwood were then 3,400' & 1,600' long.

In late 1940, the City of Paso Robles & the War Department came to an agreement to have the City lease the Paso Robles Airport for $1.00 a year. One week later the private planes were moved to other cities, most went to San Luis Obispo. Ground was broken for the first buildings of an estimated $300,000 construction project. More than 5,000' of concrete drain tile & corrugated iron culverts lined both sides of the two main runways.

The first unit to move into the new government-run airport was the 115th Observation Squadron of the California National Guard. The unit was attached to the 40th Division, at the time stationed at Camp San Luis Obispo.

Early in 1941, the government appropriated an additional $254,346 for the construction of a new 4,200' east-west runway, for which the City of Paso Robles purchased 20 additional acres. The runway was of sufficient size to accommodate any type of landplane then in use. All runways were hard-surfaced with a concrete apron.

A motion picture, with actor Robert Taylor in the role of an Air Corps cadet, was made early in WW2, and part of it was filmed at Sherwood Field. Legendary stunt pilot Paul Mantz flew the air scenes in place of Taylor (who actually later was a Navy pilot in the Pacific theater). One morning all airplanes were moved out of the hangar, both doors slid open, then Mantz took off, circled the field once, dove, and flew through one door & out the other. Hundreds of townspeople had heard about the planned scene, and were there to watch the action being filmed - Paso Robles' first air show!

Later in 1941, the Air Corps turned the field over to the Navy, who used it only as an emergency field - a full complement was never stationed there. "Paso Robles" Airport was described by the 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields as having a 3,300' hard-surface runway. In 1945, the Navy returned the field to the City of Paso Robles.

The airport fell into general disrepair after the war, since most aviation activity had shifted to Estrella - by then the official Paso Robles airport - and housing was fast encroaching. It was soon closed to flying altogether. In the mid-1950s, a housing tract was constructed on the property, where some residents trying to plant trees in their yard hit the old runway & parking ramps.

Sherwood Field is still with us today in visible reminders. The old Officers Mess is in use by the Paso Robles Shriners, and the big hangar remains, now occupied by Ennis Co, as does the original apron where the planes were tied down. The hangar & ramp can be viewed from Santa Fe Avenue, off Creston Road, where the apron is bisected by a chain-like fence from Ennis Co property. The concrete was just too much trouble to break up & remove, so it remains as a reminder of bygone days when the sounds of aircraft engines chattered in the soft, clear air over what was then open pasture land. The site of Sherwood Field is bordered by Creston Road on the West, Sherwood Road on the North, Fontana Road on the East, and Scott Street on the South.


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