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Location: /Squadron Patches/Army Air Force Squadrons/AAF units, Non-Numerical

WWII Patch, AAF, AAF Advanced Glider Pilot School, South Plains Army Air Field, Lubbock, TX Bugs Bunny

WWII Patch, AAF, AAF Advanced Glider Pilot School, South Plains Army Air Field, Lubbock, TX  Bugs Bunny

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WWII US Army Air Force Squadron Patch
US AAF USAAF  Advanced Combat Glider Pilot School, South Plains Army Air Field, Lubbock TX
Looney Tunes Design - Bugs Bunny in a Waco Glider
6 inches


Training future pilots for Combat Glider squadrons.

Air Technical Service Command
    * South Plains AAF, Lubbock, TX
          Now: Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport


South Plains Army Airfield
Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport is an airport located just north of Lubbock, Texas. The immediate prior name was Lubbock International Airport, it was renamed in 2004 to honor and former Texas governor Preston E. Smith, an alumnus of Texas Tech University. The airport has three runways.

Lubbock International Airport began as the Lubbock Municipal Airfield in 1929. The airport's first manager was aviation pioneer Clent Breedlove, who had been an army aviator and test pilot. Aviation grew steadily at the airport until World War II when it took a giant leap forward.

The United States Government's War Department took over the airport in 1942 and created the South Plains Army Airfield. This installation's mission was to train combat glider pilots. These combat gliders were designed to carry soldiers, small jeeps, cannons, or other supplies quickly and quietly into the heat of battle. These "silent wings" were used extensively in the D-Day invasion to free Europe and also in many Pacific Theater operations. The South Plains Army Airfield grew to be the largest glider training facility in the world.

The airport was opened in November 1937 as South Plains Airport. In 1942, the United States Army Air Forces indicated a need for the airport as a training airfield. After its requisition by the Air Force, it was assigned to the World War II Army Air Forces Flying Training Command, Gulf Coast Training Center (later Central Flying Training Command). The airport was renamed South Plains Army Airfield and a rapid period of construction was begun to convert the civil airport into a military training airfield.

Construction involved improving runways and airplane hangars, with three concrete runways, several taxiways and a large parking apron and a control tower. Several large hangars were also constructed. Buildings were ultimately utilitarian and quickly assembled. Most base buildings, not meant for long-term use, were constructed of temporary or semi-permanent materials. Although some hangars had steel frames and the occasional brick or tile brick building could be seen, most support buildings sat on concrete foundations but were of frame construction clad in little more than plywood and tar-paper.

The base was activated on 11 September 1942 as the South Plains Flying School. The mission was ground and flying training of glider pilots. Glider training was performed by the 848th School Squadron (Special), with overall training being under the 64th Two-Engine Flying Training Group. Aircraft assigned were Douglas C-47 Skytrains and Waco CG-4A gliders. The CG-4A was the USAAF's primary glider, consisting of little more than a wooden and fabric shell, equipped with radio, wheels, and brakes. Glider pilots trained at South Plains flew these craft in combat during the Normandy Invasion, Operation Market-Garden, and also Operation Varsity, the airborne invasion of Germany.

By late 1944 Flying Training Command ended all glider instruction, and control of South Plains AAF was transferred to Air Service Command at Tinker Field, Oklahoma. Under Air Service Command, South Plains became a maintenance and supply depot for excess aircraft that could not be accommodated at Tinker. After the war ended, in 1946 and 1947, South Plains was used as a storage facility for excess aircraft prior to their reclamation. The military use of South Plains ended on December 1, 1947 and the facility was returned to the local government for civil use.

After World War II, the airport was again operated by the City of Lubbock. Commercial airline service began on July 1, 1945 with a flight to Dallas operated by Braniff Airways. Pioneer Airlines, Continental Airlines, and Trans-Texas Airlines soon began serving Lubbock and a new terminal was built in 1950.

In 1966, Continental Airlines was the first to bring jet service to Lubbock and soon Braniff and Texas International added jets also. In 1976, a new passenger terminal was dedicated which was expanded to its present size in 1986.  Historically, Braniff International Airways had regularly scheduled service to Amarillo and Dallas. Continental Airlines had service to Dallas, Midland/Odessa, El Paso and Los Angeles. Trans-Texas Airways had service to Amarillo and Abilene. Texas International Airlines had service to Dallas. America West Airlines had service to Midland/Odessa, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. United Airlines had service to Denver. Some of these previously scheduled flights were from the old facility before Preston Smith International operations commenced. Delta Air Lines also used to offer service to its hub at Dallas.


Waco Gliders
Waco CG-3 - Troop Glider intended for training CG-4 pilots
Waco CG-4, aka "Hadrian" - Troop Glider
Waco CG-13 - Troop Glider
Waco CG-15 - Troop Glider


WASP
SOUTH PLAINS ARMY AIR BASE  -- LUBBOCK, TEXAS
WASP flew B-25 and C-60 as trained pilots to tow CG-4A gliders at low altitude, mostly at night.


1102 WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) were stationed at 120 air bases and flew 60 million miles in every type military aircraft in the Army Air Force inventory, from the fastest fighters to the heaviest bombers. They towed targets for air-to-air gunnery and air-to-ground anti-aircraft practice, ferried aircraft, were instrument instructors for male pilots, flew weather, night tracking, simulated strafing and radar navigation missions, transported personnel and cargo and flew drones. They flew every type mission that any Army Air Force pilot flew except combat  missions.

Price: $165.00


Product Code: PatchAAF.0000.AdvancedGliderSchool.SouthPlainsArmyAirField.L
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