Thursday, February 28, 2019

Williams Field, Az.-- Part 2: AT-10 Crashes

It was a flying school and had numerous runways and auxiliary airfields.  The main airfield had three 6000 foot concrete runways.

During World War II, Williams Field was under command of the 89th Army Air Force Base Unit, AAF West Coast Training Center.  Thousands of future  P-38 Lightning  pilots were taught twin engine flying on Beechcraft AT-10 Wichita (Wichita is from where they were built)at Williams.  These were built specifically for pilot training.  Some 2,371 were built.

By July 1942, there were 79 AT-10s assigned to Williams Field.  However, the dry, hot Arizona climate tended to dry out the wood and glue of the wooden AT-10s, causing at least ten  flying cadets to lose their lives in crashes.

Training with the AT-10s at Williams was suspended and the planes shipped off to more humid air bases.  Theyw ere replaces by the Cessna AT-17 Bobcat twin engine trainers.  However, these were seen as too easy to fly and were replaced by  the more demanding Curtiss-Wright AT-9.  By January 1943, almost 200 AT-9s were at Williams.

Was the death of Wendell Baie the result one of these crashes?


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