Polaris Flight Academy Chosen As Training Base

Polaris Flight Academy Chosen as Basic Training Base For United States Army Air Cadets

LANCASTER - 1942 - At the request of the West Coast Air Force Training Center, Polaris War Eagle Flight Academy at Lancaster will become a basic training school for cadets of the United States Army Air Force, commencing about August 10th, according to an announcement made public Tuesday of this week by Frank Lowe of the Cal-Aero Schools, speaking for Major C. C. Moseley, president.

Mr. Howe stated that no more cadets would be received at War Eagle Academy at Lancaster, but that those now in training will remain there until they have completed their courses, which will be about January 2, 1943, when the last class graduates.

In making the announcement public, Mr. Howe stated that Major Moseley, head of the Cal Aero Schools, made this statement:

There will be no change of personnel at War Eagle Academy. The same instructors and other personnel now training British cadets will handle the training of US fliers.

The Cal-Aero School in Ontario will drop basic training as a part of its courses, and with Mira Loma Flight Academy at Oxnard, will devote its entire time to primary training only. All basic training will be handled at War Eagle Flight Academy at Lancaster, the only civilian school in the Untied States to handle basic training of Army pilots.

Every four and one-half weeks a new group of US pilots will arrive at Lancaster to commence their basic training. After completing their course here, they will sent to Army Advance Training posts where upon completion of their advance course, they will receive their wings and commission.

In contemplation of greatly increased demands on the War Eagle Flight Academy, construction work has already started to double the base in size. Barracks to accommodate twice the number of cadets now housed there under its British training contract will be built as well as other construction to expand the facilities.


WAR EAGLE FIELD

Literally thousands of British and American fliers received basic training in the Antelope Valley at War Eagle Field. In the picture above you can faintly make out the name "War Eagle" that is painted on the roof of the hangers.

Here is a present day view of the old War Eagle Field. War Eagle, now known as Mira Loma, is owned by LA County and is used as an INS detention facility; it was a former LA County jail. Note the two still intact hangers that are still in use. The Mira Loma facilities are located near 60th Street West and Avenue I, in Lancaster. Although the facility is surrounded by barbed wire, a passer by can still make out the old W.W.II era buildings and reminisce about those bygone years when the roar of Vultee BT-13's filled the air.


LIBERTY AND VICTORY FIELD


There were two other auxiliary landing fields associated with War Eagle, namely: Liberty and Victory. Liberty Field was started before the war by a local resident, Mr. Mallicoat, as a private training school for military pilots. In the 1950's the US Rubber company removed part of the landing strip at Liberty Field and installed a tire testing track in its place. To this day the faint outline of the runways at Liberty and Victory Field can still be seen.

As a result of the heavy training, the area has seen it's share of airplane wrecks. During the 40's at least 20 or more planes crashed in the Antelope Valley and the surrounding area. Many of these planes were BT13's (BT for Basic Trainer), but numerous other wrecks of P38's and bombers can be found as well. Many of the P38's that flew the skies of the Antelope Valley during W.W.II practiced aerial combat maneuvers. Many flew in from Metropolitan Airport (present day Van Nuys). Unfortunately, on some occasions a pilot lost control and his airplane plummeted from the sky. Sometimes the pilot was fortunate enough to bail out to be rescued later, but in some instances the pilot didn't have a chance and flew his plane into the ground. The Antelope Valley has a rich aviation history, there are many signs of the past still present today... all you have to do is look.


UPDATE - UPDATE - UPDATE - UPDATE - UPDATE - UPDATE - UPDATE - UPDATE - UPDATE



On March 13, 1999, I received the following letter from an aviation archeologist in England. As further described below, he discovered the crash site of a Airspeed Oxford and while investigating the 60-year old site, uncovered the pilot's training certificate from the US Polaris Flight Academy at War Eagle Field. What an incredible story and an amazing discovery!

Hi there:

Congratulations on a great site, I am involved with the Wartime Aircraft Recovery Group, here in England and we recover and display many aircraft that crashed in England during the war. About 5 years ago we where at the crash site of an Airspeed Oxford, which had hit a hill and burnt out just after take of from RAF Ternhill, the Pilot Officer J. Jenks was killed, on the crash report it stated that the accident was probably caused by a lack of familiarity with the surrounding area as the pilot had only just completed his training in the states. Whilst investigating the site I found a small copper plate which was folded in half I gently straitened it out and on it where the words:

POLARIS FLIGHT ACADEMY THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT PILOT OFFICER J. JENKS HAS PASSED THE PRESCRIBED COURSE OF FLIGHT. WAR EAGLE FIELD LANCASTER CALIFORNIA.

I have tried to research the Polaris flight academy and Lancaster field but have totally drawn a blank on both items, but whilst reading the reports on your crash sites I noticed that you mention the academy, do you have any information you could let me have on the academy and Lancaster field? The plate is on display in our museum at the former wartime airfield at High Ercall and any info. would help enhance the display. Many thanks and keep up the good work

Keith Jones

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