Thompson–Robbins Airport

Last updated
Thompson–Robbins Airport
Thompson–Robbins Army Airfield
Helena HEE.jpg
Summary
Airport typePublic
OwnerCity of Helena–West Helena
Serves Helena–West Helena, Arkansas, United States
OpenedOctober 4, 1941
Built1941
Elevation  AMSL 242 ft / 74 m
Coordinates 34°34′35″N90°40′33″W / 34.57639°N 90.67583°W / 34.57639; -90.67583
Map
USA Arkansas location map.svg
Airplane silhouette.svg
HEE
Location
Usa edcp location map.svg
Airplane silhouette.svg
HEE
HEE (the United States)
Runways
Direction LengthSurface
ftm
17/355,0001,524Asphalt
8/263,009917Asphalt
Statistics (2009)
Aircraft operations35,000
Based aircraft42

Thompson–Robbins Airport( IATA : HEE, ICAO : KHEE, FAA LID : HEE) is 6 miles (9.7 km) northwest of the center of Helena–West Helena, in unincorporated Phillips County, Arkansas, United States. It is owned by the city of Helena–West Helena. [1]

Contents

The FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015 called it a general aviation airport. [2]

Facilities

Thompson–Robbins Airport covers 610 acres (250 ha) at an elevation of 242 feet (74 m). It has two asphalt runways: 17/35 is 5,000 by 96 feet (1,524 x 29 m) and 8/26 is 3,009 by 60 feet (917 x 18 m). [1]

In the year ending July 31, 2009 the airport had 35,000 aircraft operations, average 95 per day: 97.1% general aviation, 1.4% air taxi, and 1.4% military. Forty-two aircraft were then based at the airport: 79% single-engine, 17% multi-engine, 2% jet, and 2% helicopter. [1]

History

PT-17 Stearman biplanes on Flight Line at Thompson-Robbins Field, 1943 Thompson-Robbins Field - PT-17 Stearmans on Flight Line.jpg
PT-17 Stearman biplanes on Flight Line at Thompson–Robbins Field, 1943
Flight cadets in a ground class Thompson-Robbins Field - Ground Training Class.jpg
Flight cadets in a ground class

Helena Aero Tech

In preparation for the eventual U.S. entry into World War II, the United States Army Air Corps sought to expand the nation's combat air forces by asking civilian flight schools to provide the primary phase of training for air cadets. The Army Air Corps flying school at Randolph Field, Texas could only graduate 500 pilots a year, and most of the current Air Corps pilots did not have enough flying hours to be instructors. [3]

To address this problem and ramp up training for new pilots, the commanding general of the AAF, Henry Arnold, devised a plan for primary contract flying schools located in local communities. Consequently, it contracted with civilian flying schools to provide primary flying training, with the graduates being moved on to basic and advanced training at regular military training airfields. The Air Corps would supply the trainees and planes, pay for the training, and buy back the buildings after the schools closed. Local communities often furnished the land. [3]

The cities of Helena and West Helena acquired 640 acres of land adjoining the existing airport at West Helena for the school. [4] Akron Airways of Ohio contracted to build the school, and construction started on July 20, 1941. [5]

The flight school was activated as Helena Aero Tech on October 4, 1941. The airfield was dedicated as the Thompson–Robbins Airfield on December 6, 1941, in honor of two Helena flyers killed in AAF flying accidents: Lieutenant Jerome Pillow Thompson, who died on June 17, 1933, and Lieutenant Jack Stewart Robbins, who died on November 8, 1940. [4] The first accident at the field took place on December 15, 1941, was a landing accident involving a PT-17 flown by cadet William H. Moore. [6] The first fatality at the field was on July 1, 1943. It was a landing accident involving a PT-23 flown by cadet Eric W.T. Lord of North Carolina. [7]

The school was under the jurisdiction of the 59th Flying Training Detachment, 29th Flying Training Wing. It was equipped with PT-17 Stearmans as its primary trainer. In addition Thompson–Robbins field had some Fairchild PT-19 and PT-23s. [8]

The physical facilities of Thompson–Robbins Field included administrative buildings and quarters for officers and enlisted men, encircling a central location. A consolidated mess hall, which accommodated 1,000 enlisted men and a limited number of' officers, was located nearby. Adjacent to the mess hall was a Post Exchange, a Service Club and a dance floor. [3]

It performed contract training until the airfield was inactivated on 4 August 1944 with the drawdown of AAFTC's pilot training program. 3,985 student pilots graduated from the school at Thompson–Robbins. With the closure of the field, the planes and furniture of the school were to be sold at auction. [4] The field was initially taken over by the Defense Plant Corporation, who used the field to store airplanes. [9]

The airfield was turned over to civil control at the end of the war though the War Assets Administration (WAA). [10] [11] [12] Eventually it was discharged to the War Assets Administration (WAA) and became a civil airport.

Civil use

Today, Thompson–Robbins Airport retains much of its World War II past. The all-way airfield has been replaced by a hard-surfaced runway and taxiway system, however the large wartime parking ramp remains and all five wartime hangars remain and are still in use. Although nearly all wartime buildings have been torn down or removed from the station, the wartime streets and main entrance remain, along with many concrete foundation pads of the wartime buildings. The parade and formation area remain visible, along with the wartime flagpole.

Airline flights (Trans-Texas DC-3s) ended in 1959.

Major Units Assigned

Aircraft Assigned

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Waco Regional Airport</span> Airport in Texas

Waco Regional Airport is five miles northwest of Waco, in McLennan County, Texas. It is owned by the City of Waco.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vance Air Force Base</span> US Air Force base in Garfield County, Oklahoma

Vance Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located in southern Enid, Oklahoma, about 65 mi (105 km) north northwest of Oklahoma City. The base is named after local World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient, Lieutenant Colonel Leon Robert Vance Jr.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Majors Airport</span> Airport in Hunt County, Texas

Majors Airport is a city-owned airport 4 nautical miles (7.4 km) southeast of the central business district of Greenville, in Hunt County, Texas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mefford Field Airport</span> Airport in Tulare County, California

Mefford Field is a public use airport in Tulare County, California, United States. It is owned by the City of Tulare and located three nautical miles (6 km) southeast of its central business district. This airport is included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015, which categorized it as a general aviation facility.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sequoia Field Airport</span> Airport in Tulare County, California

Sequoia Field Airport is a county-owned, public-use airport located eight nautical miles (15 km) north of the central business district of Visalia, a city in Tulare County, California, United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grider Field</span> Airport in Jefferson County, Arkansas

Grider Field, also known as Pine Bluff Regional Airport, is a municipal airport at Pine Bluff, Arkansas. It was established in 1941 as a U.S. Army Flight Training School operated by the Pine Bluff School of Aviation. After World War II, the city turned it into a commercial airport facility. It is a 850 acre facility consisting of a large terminal and restaurant, FAA weather monitoring equipment, private corporate hangars, fixed-base operators offering fuel and avionics services, a fire station, and aviation museum. It serves as the only ILS-equipped, jet capable airport in southeast Arkansas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sharpe Field</span> Airport in Tuskegee, Alabama

Sharpe Field is a closed private use airport located six nautical miles northwest of the central business district of Tuskegee, a city in Macon County, Alabama, United States. This airport is privately owned by the Bradbury Family Partnership.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Terrell Municipal Airport</span> Airport in Terrell, Texas

Terrell Municipal Airport is a public access airport located within the city limits of Terrell, Texas, 1 mile SE of central Terrell.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Troy Municipal Airport</span> Airport in Pike County, Alabama

Troy Municipal Airport is a city-owned public-use airport located four nautical miles northwest of the central business district of Troy, a city in Pike County, Alabama, United States. It is included in the FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015, which categorized it as a general aviation facility.

During World War II, the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) established numerous airfields in Arkansas for training fighter and bomber pilots and aircrews.

During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) established numerous airfields in Illinois for training pilots and aircrews of USAAF fighters and bombers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Garner Field</span> Airport in Uvade County, Texas

Garner Field is an airport in Uvalde County, Texas, three miles east of the city of Uvalde, which owns it. It is named for John Nance Garner, 32nd Vice President of the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marlboro County Jetport</span> Airport in Marlboro County, South Carolina

Marlboro County Jetport, also known as H.E. Avent Field, is a county-owned public-use airport located 3 nautical miles west of the central business district of Bennettsville, in Marlboro County, South Carolina, United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Airglades Airport</span> Airport in Hendry County, Florida

Airglades Airport is a county-owned public-use airport in Hendry County, Florida, United States. It is located 5 miles (8.0 km) west of the central business district of Clewiston, Florida.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harrell Field</span> Airport in Ouachita County, Arkansas

Harrell Field is five miles northeast of Camden, in Ouachita County, Arkansas, United States. The FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2009–2013 categorizes it as a general aviation facility.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coleman Municipal Airport</span> Airport in Coleman County, Texas

Coleman Municipal Airport is an airport two miles northeast of Coleman, Texas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arledge Field</span> Airport in Jones County, Texas

Arledge Field is a public general aviation airport located approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) east of Stamford, Texas. Owned by the city of Stamford, it provides general aviation service. Approximately 80 aircraft use the airport on a weekly basis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tucumcari Municipal Airport</span> Airport in Quay County, New Mexico

Tucumcari Municipal Airport is about six miles east of Tucumcari, New Mexico.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">29th Flying Training Wing (U.S. Army Air Forces)</span> Military unit

The 29th Flying Training Wing was a wing of the United States Army Air Forces. It was last assigned to the Western Flying Training Command, and was disbanded on 16 June 1946 at Napier Field, Alabama. The wing controlled World War II Phase One primary flying training units of the Army Air Forces Training Command. Headquartered at Moody Field, Georgia for most of its operational service, it controlled contract civilian-operated pilot schools primarily in the Southeastern United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">31st Flying Training Wing (World War II)</span> Unit of the United States Army Air Forces

The 31st Flying Training Wing was a training formation of the U.S. Army Air Forces (AAF) during World War II.

References

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. 1 2 3 4 FAA Airport Form 5010 for HEE PDF . Federal Aviation Administration. Effective 25 August 2011.
  2. "2011–2015 NPIAS Report, Appendix A (PDF, 2.03 MB)" (PDF). 2011–2015 National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. Federal Aviation Administration. 4 October 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 Cameron, Rebecca Hancock, 1999, Training to Fly. Military Flight Training 1907–1945, Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
  4. 1 2 3 "Thompson–Robbins Air Field". The airfield was dedicated as the Thompson–Robbins Airfield on December 6, 1941, in honor of two Helena flyers killed in AAF flying accidents: Lieutenant Jerome Pillow Thompson, who died on June 17, 1933, and Lieutenant Jack Stewart Robbins, who died on November 8, 1940.
  5. "Construction starts on Helena Aerotech". The Daily World. 1941-07-20. p. 1. Retrieved 2023-12-16.
  6. "USAF Accident Report Summary Sheet". Aviation Archaeology. Retrieved 2023-12-16.
  7. "USAF Summary Sheet". www.aviationarchaeology.com. Retrieved 2023-12-16.
  8. 29th Flying Training Wing, lineage and history document, Air Force Historical Agency, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
  9. "Defense Plant Corp at Helena Aero Tech". The Daily World. 1944-10-06. p. 1. Retrieved 2023-12-16.
  10. PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
  11. Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942–2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas OCLC   71006954 , 29991467
  12. Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites, History’s Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC. OCLC   57007862 , 1050653629
  13. "2158th at Helena Aero Tech". The Daily World. 1944-05-16. p. 3. Retrieved 2023-12-16.