As of May 6, 2013, this exhibition is closed. Please stay tuned for information on future exhibitions at the Mesa Historical Museum Downtown Campus.
Even before the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor roused an isolationist nation to war, the United States was preparing for it. Months before the nation declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy, construction had begun on airfields in Mesa that would train British and American military pilots. By year’s end, the nation was in the midst of organizing the largest war effort in history and building allied air forces that would seize control of the skies. Between 1941 and 1943, the United States built more than 1,200 airfield installations.
The town of Mesa Arizona (population just 7,224) entered the aviation age by purchasing land for two military pilot training fields and breaking ground on both on July 16, 1941. On that day, British pilot training base #4 at Falcon Field and a new American Pilot training base at Williams Field began a long and prosperous relationship with Mesa. Explore the history of their beginnings, the stories of the community and the pilots who worked and trained there, and see what the bases have become today.