Douglas Municipal Airport (Arizona)
|Douglas Municipal Airport
Douglas Army Airfield
2006 USGS photo
|IATA: DGL – ICAO: KDGL – FAA LID: DGL|
|Owner||City of Douglas|
|Elevation AMSL||4,173 ft / 1,272 m|
Douglas Municipal Airport
|Location||E end of 10th Ave., Douglas, Arizona|
|Area||221.8 acres (89.8 ha)|
|NRHP Reference #||75000336|
|Added to NRHP||December 30, 1975|
Douglas Municipal Airport (IATA: DGL, ICAO: KDGL, FAA LID: DGL) is a public airport located two miles (3 km) east of the central business district of Douglas, a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States. The airport is owned by the city of Douglas. It is not served by any commercial airlines at this time.
Facilities and aircraft
Douglas Municipal Airport covers an area of 640 acres (260 ha) which contains two runways: 3/21 has an asphalt pavement measuring 5,760 x 75 ft (1,756 x 23 m) and 18/36 has a dirt surface measuring 4,095 x 100 ft (1,248 x 30 m). For the 12-month period ending July 31, 2005, the airport had 7,500 general aviation aircraft operations, an average of 20 per day.
World War II
Construction began on Douglas Municipal Airport in June 1942 for the United States Army Air Forces. Land for the airfield was leased from several ranches by the United States Government from several ranches using War Emergency Powers and turned over to the War Department. Some 2,600 acres were set aside for military use.
Known as Douglas Army Airfield, the base included six operational runways, all over 7,000' in length. The runways included 17L-35R, 17R-35L, 8L-26R, 8R-26L, 3L-21R, 3R-21L, and 12-30. 16 taxiways, a parking apron, seven hangars were also constructed at the airfield. Improvements at the base included 418 buildings, sewage treatment facilities, associated utilities, including personnel barracks, warehouses, aircraft storage hangars, a commissary, civilian quarters, service clubs for officers and enlisted men, a small base hospital, as well as vehicular maintenance shops, recreational facilities, supply storage, specialty training, and ordnance buildings, an ordnance storage area, two firing ranges and a skeet range.
The ranges included a machine gun range with 10 targets, a pistol range with 24 targets, and a skeet range with two units. The General Site Plan for the air field lists storage for small arms, pyrotechnic, chemical bomb storage, assembly and maintenance, segregated storage and an underground magazine. Enlisted men used Douglas Air Field to complete the qualification course with the firing of a pistol, rifle, and sub-machine gun. They fired the .45 caliber automatic pistol at different distances and the .30 caliber rifle. They also fired the .45 caliber sub-machine gun at movable targets. Cadets fired these weapons at the pistol and machine gun ranges, and fired shotguns at the skeet range
In addition to the main base, five auxiliary airfields were constructed in the area for emergency and overflow use:
- McNeal Field (Aux #1)
- Forrest Field (Aux #2)
- Webb Coutland (Elfrida) Field (Aux #3)
- Hereford Army Airfield (Aux #5)
Records of Auxiliary Airfield #4 have been lost to time.
The Army activated the former Douglas Air Field on May 28, 1942, as a twin-engine advanced flying school for training bomber pilots. It was also used to train soldiers as post mechanics. Douglas Army Air Field was an advanced flying training school where aviation cadets received their pilot wings and commissions as second lieutenants or appointments as flight officers in the Army Air Force. The base came under the command of 83d Flying Training Wing (Advanced Twin-Engine), Army Air Forces Western Flying Training Command, headquartered at Santa Ana, California. Aircraft assigned to the base were BT-14's, AT-6's, UC-78's, AT-9's, AT-17's, and B-25's
Graduates were then sent to III Bomber Command airfields in the southeast for group assignments on B-26 Marauder or B-25 Mitchell medium bombers, or twin-engined P-38 Lightning IV Fighter Command airfields along the West Coast. Others went to I Troop Carrier Command or Air Transport Command for transport pilot duty.
During World War II, there were about 5,500 troops stationed at Douglas at any one time. It was one of four Army Air Fields in the United States to have both African-American soldiers and WACs, and was the second air field to receive black WACs.
Pilots in Air Transport Command began training at Douglas in June 1944. These pilots ferried replacement planes around the world. In August 1944, B-25 bomber planes arrived at the former Douglas Air Field replacing the AT-17s and AT-9s.
Chemical warfare training also occurred at Douglas Air Field. The only chemical warfare training conducted at the air field was carrying a gas mask. In a memorandum issued in 1943 it was stated that military training would include six hours of instruction in defense against chemical attack as well as the required arms qualifications. From 1943 to 1945, enlisted men, cadets, and Air Transport Command trainees attended various chemical warfare courses including incendiary and decontamination exercises. Quarterly gas chamber exercises were also conducted using tear gas and chlorine gas. In addition to the gas chamber training, the Chemical Warfare Section used several areas at the base for training and storage. They conducted decontamination demonstrations at one end of the Officers' Athletic Field. They used a warehouse in the Ordnance Area for segregation of supplies and ammunition.
The Air Training Command maintained the former Douglas Air Field on temporary inactive status starting on October 31, 1945. The site was declared surplus on April 25, 1947. Custody of the site was assumed by the War Assets Administration (WAA) on November 1, 1947. The WAA transferred ownership of 2,774 acres to Cochise County on May 13, 1949 by quitclaim deed. WAA Real Property classification documents dated April 8, 1948, indicated that the exchange agreement for acquisition of 31 acres was not complete. It is assumed that these 31 acres were leased from the State of Arizona and were returned upon declaring the site as surplus.
Bisbee-Douglas International Airport
The former Douglas Air Field is currently owned by Cochise County. On May 13, 1949, the U.S. government, acting through the War Assets Administration deeded the Douglas Army Airfield to Cochise County. The airfield was named Bisbee-Douglas International Airport and plans were made by the county to prepare the airport to serve as the major air commerce facility in the region.
In 1949-50, the base administration building was remodeled to serve as an airline terminal building. It included offices for airport and airline administration, a passenger lobby, restaurant, rest rooms, and a Flight Service Station. The terminal building remains today, for the most part, in its 1950's vintage configuration
The first Airport Layout Plan (ALP) record drawing for the Bisbee-Douglas International Airport was prepared by Johannessen &. Girand Engineers - Phoenix, Arizona in 1956. The 1956 ALP recommended that Runways 17L-35R, 12-30, and 8R-26L be phased out, along with many taxiways and some of the bituminous aircraft parking aprons. The 1956 plan also recommended development of an industrial area where the current state prison now resides.
The ALP was updated by Blanton & Company of Tucson, Arizona in 1967. By this time, the three runways and their serving taxiways had been phased out. During the 1960s, BDI had scheduled airline service. The critical aircraft being used was the Boeing 727 and Douglas DC-7. The ALP reflected design for these types, and recommended ultimate design for use by the Boeing 747. Recommendations also included extension of Runway 17-35 to an ultimate length of 10,290' (existing length is 7,290').
The ALP was again updated by Blanton &. Company in 1974. This document indicates that the three "phased out" runways were again active, although they were probably not actually usable because of their condition. The recommended extension of Runway 17-35 is continued, along with ultimate installation of an Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach to Runway 17. In 1974, a new 25,000 gallon elevated water tower was constructed. The tower is 140 feet tall, and is lighted with double-fixture obstruction lights.
A 1975 improvement project (ADAP 7-04-0013-01) included replacement of the Medium Intensity Runway Lighting (MIRL) system for Runways 17-35 and 8-26. The electrical vault was rehabilitated at this time, and taxiway guidance signs and a Visual Approach Slope Indicator (VASI-2) system was installed on Runway 17-35. Project engineers were Blanton & Company.
Over recent years, there has been relatively little development activity at the Bisbee-Douglas International Airport.
The 1943 photo of Douglas Army Airfield looks like Bisbee-Douglas International Airport, not the current Douglas Municipal Airport.
- Arizona World War II Army Airfields
- 37th Flying Training Wing (World War II)
- Bisbee-Douglas International Airport
- Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History's Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC, 2004.
- Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942–2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas ASIN: B000NYX3PC
- Douglas Municipal Airport (DGL) at Arizona DOT airport directory
- Douglas Army Airfield in World War II
- Resources for this airport: