Tucumcari Municipal Airport
|Tucumcari Municipal Airport|
1991 USGS Photo
|Owner||City of Tucumcari|
|Location||Quay County, near Tucumcari, New Mexico|
|Elevation AMSL||4,065 ft / 1,239 m|
Opened in August 1941, Tucumcari Municipal Airport was built by the United States Army Air Forces, the airfield provided primary glider pilot training to flight cadets.
The glider school was operated under contract by the Cutter-Carr Flying Service, it was under the general supervision of the 9th Glider Training Detachment, 36th Flying Training Wing, Western Flying Training Command. Training was conducted using Aeronca TG-5 combat training gliders, towed by C-47 Skytrain aircraft.
The flight cadets consisted of both experienced sailplane pilots and others who had washed out of conventional pilot training and were given a second chance to fly, The possibility of officer's pay and the chance to fly attracted a particular breed of risk-tolerant trainees. Trainees were given instruction on how to follow a tow plane and fly the unpowered aircraft to the designated landing zone.
Unlike powered pilots, combat training was also provided, as once a pilot committed to a landing and discovered, as he got closer, frequently the landing zone was under fire, mined, or otherwise obstructed, he had little room to maneuver to make a safe landing. Once the landing was made, the glider pilot then became another infantryman.
Once the Glider Pilot Cadet successfully completed their primary training, they moved on to advanced training, taught by AAF instructors at several military glider schools.
The school was closed in March, 1943 as part of the drawdown of the Army Air Forces pilot training program. It was declared surplus and turned over to the Army Corps of Engineers, and eventually discharged to the War Assets Administration (WAA) after the end of World War II.
Pioneer Airlines served the airport from 1948 through about 1953 as one of several stops made on their route between Albuquerque and Dallas. Douglas DC-3 aircraft were used initially and were upgraded to 36-seat Martin 202's shortly before the service ended. Trans Central Airlines briefly served Tucumcari in 1970 with Cessna 402 aircraft operating flights to Albuquerque and Amarillo.
- 36th Flying Training Wing, lineage and history document Air Force Historical Agency, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
- Military Aviation Incident Reports
- 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
- Cameron, Rebecca Hancock, 1999, Training to Fly. Military Flight Training 1907-1945, Chapter 4: Training at home for War Overseas. Air Force History and Museums Program, Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
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