Although officially dedicated on Saturday, February 7, 1942, operations on Minter Field actually began in June of 1941 when the post was garrisoned by only a small guard unit. The base commander, Colonel Carl Pyle, established his headquarters on the Bakersfield Junior College campus in the city while base personnel camped out in temporary quarters scattered from Bakersfield to Wasco, located some fifteen miles to the northwest of Minter Field.
By early August, 1941, multiple units began moving onto the field as construction of wooden buildings accelerated. In the beginning, the airport was known as Lerdo Field because of its close proximity to the highway of the same name. In October of 1941, the Minter Sub-Depot was established as a branch of the Sacramento Air Depot.
The field was named in honor of First Lieutenant Hugh C. Minter, a member of the locally prominent Minter family. The Lieutenant, a WWI veteran, was killed in a mid-air collision over March Field in July, 1932. Members of the Minter family are still active in the Museum today.
In April of 1942, contracts for the construction of more than 65 on-base buildings were let while the constantly increasing numbers of cadets were housed in a large tent city erected as temporary shelter. By July of 1942, Minter Field had become the largest training base of its type on the West Coast, with nine auxiliary landing fields located in Delano, Lost Hills, Dunlap, Pond, Wasco, Famosa, Semi-Tropic, and Minter No. 1 & No. 2. During the course of the War, more than 11,000 Army Air Corps Cadets graduated from Minter Field, deploying around the world to fly in all theaters of operations.
The principle training aircraft was the Consolidated Vultee Valiant, affectionately known as the "Vultee Vibrator", powered by a 450 HP Pratt & Whitney Wasp R985 nine-cylinder radial. The aircraft had fixed gear and Hamilton-Standard two speed props.
Other training aircraft included the Cessna UC-78 Bobcat, also known as the "Bamboo Bomber" because of its extensive use of lightweight wood in the fuselage and wings. The Cessna was a twin-engine "Light Personnel Transport" and advanced trainer. Aircraft also seen on the field during WWII included the AT-6 Texan trainer, B-25 Mitchell twin-engine bomber, and P-38 Lightning, as well as other widely used fighter, bomber and observation craft.

Copyright © 2006-21 Claud "Sonny" Rouch, all rights reserved. Website by OACYS Technology. Cover photo by Roberts Engineering.