Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Tracy Auxiliary Field No. 5
by Daniel M. Sebby
Military Historian, California Military Department

Tracy Auxiliary Field was established on 24 March 1942 when the Air Corps (after 9 December 1942, the Army Air Forces), leased the existing Tracy Municipal Airport from the City of Tracy in order to provide an auxiliary field to the Advanced Flying School at Stockton Field. At the time of acquisition, facilities at the airfield included unimproved runways and taxiways, an office building, a hangar, a repairs and machine shop located at the west end of the hangar; a pump house and well; a restroom building; a beacon tower; and other infrastructure. Upon acquisition, the Army added a control tower, new paved runways and taxiways, a parking apron, and field lighting.

On 22 April 1943, extension of the main runway required that an additional 82.07 acres were fee purchased from Alfred and Mildred Pereira. This was followed on 20 December 1943 by the acquisition of an additional 68.44 acres through condemnation proceedings against the Pereiras.

Initially, the Tracy Auxiliary Field was operated by elements of Stockton Field’s 68th Air Base Group (Special) under the Air Corps Advanced Flying School (2-Engine)(Pilot). During the years that Stockton Field was a training installation, it was under the control of the West Coast Training Center (later Western Flying Training Command) headquartered at Santa Ana Army Air Base. In May 1944 all of the station’s complement was consolidated into the 3033rd Army Air Forces Base Unit (AAFBU).

The primary mission of the Tracy Auxiliary Field was to provide a location for emergency landings and to support general training and operations from Stockton Field. Initially, the Cessna AT-17 “Bobcat”, twin-engine advanced trainer was stationed at Stockton Field and would have regularly used Tracy Auxiliary Field.

As World War II progressed, Stockton Field and the nearby Stockton Army Air Forces Intransit Depot (as well as the several Army Service Forces depots in Stockton, Lathrop and Tracy) became more and more of a logistical hub for the U.S. Army in general and the Army Air Forces in particular. This resulted in an increased number of transport aircraft passing through Stockton Field. Although the Army Air Forces’ Air Transport Command operated a wide variety of transport aircraft types, their primary aircraft most likely to have operated at Stockton Field were the ubiquitous Curtiss C-46 “Commando”, and the Douglas C-47 “Skytrain” and C-54 “Skymaster”. Additionally, the Tracy Auxiliary Field was available for all aircraft, regardless of service, in the area to use in case of emergencies. On 2 March 1945, the final class of aviation cadets completed their training and Stockton Field and it auxiliary fields were transferred from the Western Flying Training Command to the Air Transport Command. With this transfer, the 3033rd AAFBU was redesignated as the 591st AAFBU.

The Army and reported as excess to the War Assets Administration (WAA) on 23 April 1946. In the interim period prior to the report to the WAA, the Army issued a five year permit to the Bureau of Reclamation for 25.52 acres on the western side of the installation in conjunction with the construction of the Delta-Mendota Canal.

On 20 November 1946, the WAA took formal control of the Tracy Auxiliary Field and began the process of transferring the property to the City of Tracy. On 27 May 1947, the WAA formally transferred the former Tracy Auxiliary Field to the City of Tracy. The City of Tracy then reestablished the site as the Tracy Municipal Airport and continues to operate it as such to this day.


US Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District History (1991)

The total acreage for the former Tracy Auxiliary Field No. 5 was 307.01 acres. The War Department acquired 156.5 acres by lease from the City of Tracy. The lease was dated March 10, 1942. The leased land consisted of the original airfield. Approximately 150.51 acres was acquired in fee through Declaration of Taking in 1943. The owners of the land were Alfred and M. Pereira.

Tracy Auxiliary Field No. 5 was used by the U.S. Army Air Force as an auxiliary field to Stockton Field and was under Army ownership control during the period of DOD ownership.At the time of acquisition, facilities at the site included unimproved runways and taxiways, several buildings, water well, beacon tower, one underground storage tank, fueling pit, and gravel pit. After the acquisition of the site property, the U.S. Government improvements consisted of new runways, taxiways, apron, and field lighting.

The War Department declared the auxiliary field surplus on April 23, 1946.Accountability was assumed by the War Assets Administration (WAA) on November 20,1946. By Instrument of Transfer dated May 27, 1947, ownership of the site was given to the City of Tracy. The Instrumental of Transfer reconveyed the leased land (156.5 acres) back to the City of Tracy and also quitclaimed the additional 150.51 acres acquired by the U.S. Government to the City of Tracy. The instrument contains a permanent recapture clause in the event of a national emergency that make the "landing area, building areas, and airport facilities including any additions or improvements thereto made subsequentto the declaration of any part of the airport as surplus" subject to recapture. The instrument also states that the "airport shall be used for public airport purposesr and only for such purposes,"and "all structures, improvements,facilities and equipment of the airport shall be maintained at all times during the remainder of their estimated life."Also, there is a 25.52 acre portion of the 150.51 acres of former fee land and 8-12 acres of former leasehold area already subject to an easement in favor of the U.S. Government for a segment of the existing Delta-Mendota Canal operated by the Bureau of Reclamation.Theformer Tracy Auxiliary Field No. 5 is now ehe site of the Airport' and is owned and operated by the City of Tracy.


Additional Online Histories

War Assets Administration SPB-5 Report (1946)
Corps of Engineers Real Estate Map
Extract, US Army Air Forces Directory of Air Fields (January 1945)



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Updated 8 February 2016