Thompson–Robbins Army Airfield
|Owner||City of Helena-West Helena|
|Serves||Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, United States|
|Elevation AMSL||242 ft / 74 m|
Source: Federal Aviation Administration
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.
An IATA airport code, also known as an IATA location identifier, IATA station code or simply a location identifier, is a three-letter geocode designating many airports and metropolitan areas around the world, defined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The characters prominently displayed on baggage tags attached at airport check-in desks are an example of a way these codes are used.
The ICAOairport code or location indicator is a four-letter code designating aerodromes around the world. These codes, as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization and published in ICAO Document 7910: Location Indicators, are used by air traffic control and airline operations such as flight planning.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is a governmental body of the United States with powers to regulate all aspects of civil aviation in that nation as well as over its surrounding international waters. Its powers include the construction and operation of airports, air traffic management, the certification of personnel and aircraft, and the protection of U.S. assets during the launch or re-entry of commercial space vehicles. Powers over neighboring international waters were delegated to the FAA by authority of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015 called it a general aviation airport.
The National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) is an inventory of U.S. aviation infrastructure assets. NPIAS was developed and now maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a system for categorizing public-use airports that is primarily based on the level of commercial passenger traffic through each facility. It is used to determine if an airport is eligible for funding through the federal government's Airport Improvement Program (AIP). Fewer than 20% of airports in the U.S. qualify for the program, though most that don't qualify are private-use-only airports.
General Aviation (GA) represents the private transport and recreational flying component of aviation, as well as the manufacturing or building process of those aircraft.
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).
The elevation of a geographic location is its height above or below a fixed reference point, most commonly a reference geoid, a mathematical model of the Earth's sea level as an equipotential gravitational surface . The term elevation is mainly used when referring to points on the Earth's surface, while altitude or geopotential height is used for points above the surface, such as an aircraft in flight or a spacecraft in orbit, and depth is used for points below the surface.
Asphalt, also known as bitumen, is a sticky, black, and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It may be found in natural deposits or may be a refined product, and is classed as a pitch. Before the 20th century, the term asphaltum was also used. The word is derived from the Ancient Greek ἄσφαλτος ásphaltos.
According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a runway is a "defined rectangular area on a land aerodrome prepared for the landing and takeoff of aircraft". Runways may be a man-made surface or a natural surface. Runways, as well as taxiways and ramps, are sometimes referred to as “tarmac,” though very few runways are built using tarmac. Runway lengths are now commonly given in meters worldwide, except in North America where feet are commonly used.
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.
An air taxi is a small commercial aircraft which makes short flights on demand.
A helicopter, or chopper, is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forward, backward, and laterally. These attributes allow helicopters to be used in congested or isolated areas where fixed-wing aircraft and many forms of VTOL aircraft cannot perform.
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.
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.
The cities of Helena (Phillips County) and West Helena acquired 640 acres of land adjoining the existing airport at West Helena for the school. 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.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.
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.
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.
The airfield was turned over to civil control at the end of the war though the War Assets Administration (WAA).Eventually it was discharged to the War Assets Administration (WAA) and became a civil airport.
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.
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During World War II civilian flying schools, under government contract, provided a considerable part of the flying training effort undertaken by the United States Army Air Forces.
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.
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