Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Williams Field (Az)-- Part 1: Aviation Cadet Wendell Baie's Base
Eventually became Williams Air Force Base. Now closed. East of Chandler, Az. and about 30 miles southeast of Phoenix. Designated a Superfund Site because of contaminants. Operated 1941 to 1993.
Active as a training base for the Army Air Force and US Air Force. About 25% of all pilots trained here. Site has been largely annexed into city of Mesa and the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.
In 1941, citizens of Mesa were actively seeking an Air Corps facility. The land where Williams Field was built was open and not used for agriculture because of lack of irrigation. In June 1941, the War Department chose it as a site for an airfield. Construction started July 16, 1941. Initial construction completed in December of that year and the base became operational.
It was initially named Mesa Military Airport and then in Oct. 1941 it became Higley Field because of its proximity to Higley, Az.. In February 1942, it was changed to Williams Field in honor of pioneer aviator and Arizona native 1st Lt. Charles Linton Williams (1898-1927) who died in a plane crash 6 July 1927 in a plane crash near Fort DeRussy, Hawaii.
According to Find-A-Grave, he drowned and his body was never recovered.