Sunday, January 20, 2008

Read: A History of Military Aviation in San Antonio (up to pg 94)

Buying the new field was a more complex issue than for Kelly or Brooks. Benjamin Foulois, who brought military aviation to San Antonio, found a site for Kelly, and funding was appropriated, with little comparable incident, over three months from 1916 through 1917. Later that year, Brooks was founded, again with little incident.

The Randolph site was chosen in 1927, outside San Antonio, near the town of Schertz, would cost $500,000. In 2006 dollars, that is about $5.5 million. The City of San Antonio did not have the money, so eventually the San Antonio Airport Company borrowed money from local banks to purchase land, then exchange the land with the city. The City would then pay the company with money owed from back taxes.

First Lieutenant Harold L. Clark, who had some architectural training, designed the layout of Randolph. On pages 78 - 79, there is a photo spread of Randolph, after many buildings had been constructed. The photo shows the full concentric ring design, with smaller buildings along the streets within the ring, and larger buildings outside. It looks like a master-planned 1920s subdivision, with houses built in the Spanish Mission style. That level of planning aesthetic is rare enough in American civilian settings, let alone on any military base. However, it's easy to get lost on base.

Randolph was the largest Army construction project since the Panama Canal, in the early 1900s. Special attention was paid to optimizing take-off and landing safety. Wires, normally supported by poles, were buried, and railroad tracks were flush with the ground.

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