Jackson Army Air Base
Jackson Army Air Base (1941-1949) - A World War II U.S. Army Air Field established in 1941 near Jackson, Hinds County, Mississippi. Named Jackson Army Air Base in June 1941 after the nearby City of Jackson. Closed in 1949 and returned to civilian use as Hawkins Field.
Pre World War II
Davis Field in Jackson was originally 151 acres of land purchased for $53,500 by the City in 1928. Jackson’s first airport was dedicated on 9 Nov 1928. Delta Air Lines made its first flight that year. In 1936 the airport was improved with a terminal building and a paved apron. The airfield was named Hawkins Field in 1941 after A.F. Hawkins, a city commissioner.
The Dutch at Jackson
On 8 May 1941, the Dutch government-in-exile established the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School at Jackson's Hawkins Field. The school began operated Lend-Lease aircraft with civilian pilots from the Mississippi Institute of Aeronautics. Training was later conducted with U.S. Army Air Corps. The Dutch school and flight training were all done by civilians initially.
The Netherlands pilots trained and operated from the Jackson facility until 8 Feb 1944 when the Dutch air crews left for combat duty and their facilities were turned over to the Army Air Forces Advanced Pilot School.
World War II
In June 1941 Hawkins Field was renamed Jackson Army Air Base. When the U.S. Army took over Hawkins Field, a massive military construction program was initiated to transform the small civil airport into a large military airbase. Construction was rapid given the emergency wartime conditions. With the U.S. entry into the war on 7 Dec 1941 the base was rushed to completion and was officially activated on 1 May 1942 with Colonel Junius H. Houghton as the first commander. The base was to be used by the United States Army Air Forces' Flying Training Command as a basic flying training airfield.
The airfield had four runways:
The runways were laid out on an "A" layout, with one extended length main runway, and two short secondary runways connected to the apron.
In addition to the airfield, the building of a large support base included several hundred buildings, numerous streets, and a utility network was carried out with barracks, various administrative buildings, maintenance shops and hangars.
The Base consisted of a large number of buildings based on standardized military plans and architectural drawings, with the buildings designed to be temporary theater-of-operations style. The base and its buildings, together with complete water, sewer, electric and gas utilities, was designed to be nearly self-sufficient, with hangars, barracks, warehouses, hospitals, dental clinics, dining halls, and maintenance shops. There were libraries, social clubs for officers, and enlisted men, and Base Exchanges to provide for living necessities and recreational activities. Sports teams were established that competed with each other on base and traveled circuits to compete with other bases and civilian teams.
On 2 Oct 1947 Lt Colonel John A.H. Miller, the base commander, announced the name change of Jackson Army Air Base to Jackson Air Reserve Training Detachment. The airfield operated as an Air Force Reserve training center until 31 Mar 1949 when it was declared excess and returned it to civil control as Hawkins Field.
Now Hawkins Field is a joint civil-military public airport owned by the City of Jackson and operated by the Jackson Metropolitan Airport Authority.