Sunday, January 13, 2008

Read: A History of Military Aviation in San Antonio (up to pg 37)

If, after reading this post, you are confused or wish to learn more, visit the first part of the review. These posts are becoming a cross between a book review and a live-blogging event. Only the event here is my reading a book.

The 1930s were a rough time for budgets, both personal and military. The facilities and equipment built and acquired during the high growth period of World War I were showing their age, and Kelly Field would be put under serious strain during the build up to, and during, World War II. Fortunately, a second round of construction activity began in the late 1930s.

The aircraft continued to evolve. I'm not very knowledgeable of aircraft history in general, so all I can say is that the planes began to look increasingly like the ones you see in movies and historical films. Despite this progress, Kelly Field had amongst the oldest aircraft in the military. Add to this the growth of other aircraft training schools around the nation, and Kelly's role as a flight school began to diminish.

Instead of a training facility, Kelly began to take on maintenance. World War II greatly expanded operations, and with over 19,000 civilians working on the field by 1945, was probably one of the biggest employment centers in a town that grew from 254,000 people in 1940 to 408,000 by 1950. Kelly continued to be a maintenance facility in the decades following World War II.

As an established facility, the character-driven aspects of the history of Kelly Field (Kelly Air Force Base after January 1948) appear to be less dramatic than in its early days, the 1910s. Part of this may be that flying was not quite the frontier that it was in 1911. Standing out in a crowd of tens of thousands of pilots, navigators, mechanics, and technicians is much more difficult than in a crew of a dozen people who stood at the then cutting edge.

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