Naval Air Station DeLand
|Naval Air Station DeLand|
|IATA: none – ICAO: none|
|Airport type||Military: Naval Air Station|
|Operator||United States Navy|
|Occupants||United States Navy|
|Elevation AMSL||70 ft / 21 m|
Naval Air Station DeLand was a United States Naval Air Station located in DeLand, Florida from 1942-1946. After the war, the airfield and associated infrastructure was redeveloped into DeLand Municipal Airport
In 1942, the City of DeLand donated the facility that was located on the grounds to the U.S. Navy and it was renamed Naval Air Station DeLand on 17 November. The airfield officially opened after several months of land acquisition and building construction. CAPT Tom Turner, the air station's first commanding officer, officiated. A Navy band had not been formed, so the DeLand High School band played for the opening of the base. Following extensive military construction, NAS DeLand's primary focus was advanced training for Navy flight crews in land-based PBO Ventura and PB4Y-2 Privateer patrol bombers, and carrier-based SBD Dauntless dive bombers.
The first planes to arrive were the Venturas. They were not there for training, but were patrolling the coast of Florida looking for German submarines. When the SBD Dauntless dive bombers began to arrive, along with pilots and crew members, the "Venturas" were reassigned to Brazil for patrol duty. The SBDs were aircraft that were being replaced by newer dive bombers in the Pacific Fleet; it was the SBDs that sank the four Japanese carriers at the Battle of Midway. Many of DeLand's citizens were employed at the base and were paid wages that were significant coming out of the depression.
Several of the U.S. Navy's former and present day maritime patrol and reconnaissance (VP) squadrons operating the P-3 Orion trace their squadron lineage to being initially established at NAS DeLand during World War II.
Military Training and Exercises
Nine Mile Point on Lake George was also under NAS DeLand's control and was used as a practice bombing site with a Navy PBY Catalina seaplane stationed nearby in the event of an aircraft mishap on the lake. The Lake George site is still used today as part of the Navy's Pinecastle Range complex in the Ocala National Forest that is managed by NAS Jacksonville.
In 1944, training in the carrier-based F6F Hellcat fighter was also added to NAS DeLand's mission.
Outlying Field New Smyrna Beach refueled and rearmed planes practicing landings at OLF Spruce Creek and conducting target practice over the Atlantic Ocean. The planes occasionally carried 500 pound bombs when they were over the ocean just in case there was a spotting of a German U-boat. Sometimes, the occasional whale was mistaken as a U-boat and was bombed.when? NAS DeLand also had two sailors stationed at the Springs to patrol Lake Woodruff.
Following the end of World War II, the base closed as an active naval installation on March 15, 1946. Its control tower also closed and ownership of the air station returned to the City of DeLand as an uncontrolled civilian airport. After the city resumed control of the field, it became DeLand Municipal Airport.
Located in the historic Chief Master at Arms House in DeLand, Florida, the DeLand Naval Air Station Museum was dedicated in 1995 and focuses on the history of the DeLand Naval Air Station and United States Navy history. Exhibits include an F-14 Tomcat, PTF-3 torpedo boat, TBF Avenger torpedo bomber, a Korean War MASH helicopter, a 1954 U.S. Army jeep, military artifacts, vintage photographs, memorabilia.