This week I invested time into Midwestern State University’s specialty collection. A majority of the collection was donated by Nolan A. Moore III and is named in his honor. The pressure is on, Laura and I have been accepted to St. Edward’s University Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference on March 7th. Laura is helping by overseeing the creative aspects of our presentation and sharing her research with me to craft our conference paper. However, the paper has not been written yet so I will have to invest more time into the archives in the coming week. Our paper is titled: Wichita Falls At War: Call Field Pilot Training During The Great War. I will evaluate how the Call Field base created an aviation identity for Wichita Falls. Our abstract is listed below:
During the Great War Allied forces lacked the necessary airman to conduct the reconnaissance missions so important to modern battle plans. In response to a growing demand for skilled pilots, the U.S. Department of War established multiple training bases. Wichita Falls, in particular, was selected to host Call Field because of the city’s growing population and economic power. The region’s booming oil economy suggested the city could support a substantial airfield. Moreover, the North Texas climate was ideal for training future officers and pilots. As a result, Wichita Falls experienced rapid growth because of the airfield and the consequent industrial development. At Call Field hundreds of officers were trained to fly the newly designed Curtiss JN-4 (Jenny). The field was one of thirty two bases established during World War One and made significant contributions to the war effort through the two Call Field trained squadrons that flew important missions on the Allied Front. The success of Call Field and its training mission created an aviation identity for Wichita Falls. Such a reputation influenced the establishment in 1941 of Sheppard Air Force base, a NATO training base, at Wichita Falls.
While going through the archives, I learned that Kemp and Kell (local business tycoons) raised over $35,000 dollars at a public form to supplement the Department of War’s cost to purchase the land for the airfield. Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce also contributed by installing the utilities for free (Boyd, Fosty, Tuttle: Sustaining the Wings: A Fifty Year History of Sheppard Air Force Base
). I have noticed that several primary sources conflict with one another regarding specifics such as location and data. For example, a source I pulled suggested that the actual Call Field Base was located at present day Cunningham Elementary school (3/4ths to a full mile away from where other sources place the base). I assume that this is normal given inaccuracies associated with eyewitness accounts and memory.
After I get back from the Model UN conference in St. Louis, Missouri on Sunday, I will continue digging through the archives.