for bombardment crew training in 1942, the facility began life under the name
Pyote Army Air Field, being just a mile from the town of Pyote
and constructed on 2,700 acres of land belonging to the University of Texas.|
Two 1½ mile long runways (150 feet wide) and five huge hangers comprised
the most important infrastructure, but there were also barracks, warehouses, mess
halls and, of course, an emergency fire department.
The first personnel
arrived before the base was finished and by October 1944, the population of the
base was over 6,500 soldiers, mechanics, trainees and civilian technicians. Within
four months of its opening, it became the largest bomber installation in the U.S.
It also claimed a more dubious distinction - being one of the most isolated bomber
bases in the U.S.
The base became fully operational in January, 1943
with the arrival of the 19th Bombardment Group. Training was for the various gunners
on the B-17
Flying Fortresses. Later, in the spring of 1944, the base was re-designated
as the 19th Combat Crew Training School. In June of 1945 the base broke the record
for the most training hours flown in a month, in a week, and in a day.
the war, control of the base was transferred from the Second Air Force to the
San Antonio Air Tech Service Command and became an aircraft-storage depot (graveyard).
Over two thousand planes were stored here in 1948, one of which was the Enola
Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In 1953 the plane was flown
to Washington, to be preserved in the National Air and Space Museum.|
The base became inactive after the Korean War and the planes were sold as scrap.
A RADAR base operated off and on during the 50s and 60s, but it was deactivated
in 1966. The West Texas Children's Home occupied some of the former buildings,
but the hangers and runways deteriorated into what you see here.
"Here are some photos taken about April of '07 at the old Rattlesnake
Bomber Base in Pyote. There's
not much left there to see, but what is still there is incredible. Overgrown weeds
and all, it's still like stepping into the past." - Lexie Nichols and
Jordan Gibson, September 17, 2007
of the November 1944 issue of "The Rattler"|
your article on the Rattlesnake Bomber Base, I would like to share these sample
pages of their base newspaper from 1944. Ol' Rattlesnake Field is quite famous
in the annals of Texas WW II
aviation history and has been seen in a couple of movies as well. Kevin Costner's
first movie was titled Fandango and is about a last, cross country type fling
of four UT guys who are drafted during the Vietnam war. At one point they arrive
at the old bomber base to find a pothead aviator who gives parachute flights to
those willing to pay. ||
my favorite vignette of the old base comes in the wonderful book FLIGHT OF PASSAGE:
A TRUE STORY by Rinker Buck. Buck tells the story of the time he and his older
brother flew a restored Piper Cub from New Jersey to Los Angeles via Pyote Field.
It happened over the long weekend of July 4, 1966 and is a great little read if
you ever have time. In it he tells about the prodigious rattlesnake gathering
business being run out of an old hangar still standing out there. - Mel
Austin, September 27, 2007 ||
The "Rattle Snake Charmer" (upper right-hand corner) featured in this
issue of The Rattler was Uvalde,
Texas native Dale Evans. |
of a B-17 "Flying Fortress" over Germany|
|Book Hotel Here
- Expedia Affiliate