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NAVAL AIR STATION, DALLAS

NAVAL AIR STATION, DALLAS. The Naval Air Station in Dallas is a shore installation of the commander of Naval Air Reserve Forces, one of fifteen major naval-reserve installations in the United States. It is located at the northwest end of Mountain Creek Lake, just west of Dallas. It was established in August 1929 by the city of Dallas as a training field for reserve pilots and was named Hensley Field for Maj. William N. Hensley, who was on the first trans-Atlantic dirigible crossing in 1919 and was a flying instructor near Dallas in the early 1920s. The site was leased to the United States Army by the city of Dallas for twenty years for $1.00 a year, and the field became the Air Corps Reserve Base in the Eighth Corps Area. The lease was extended to forty years at the beginning of World War II. The United States Navy began maintaining operations there in March 1941 and on May 15 of that year established a naval reserve training base on 160 acres adjacent to Hensley Field. On October 8, 1941, Maj. Thomas D. Ferguson, commander at the field, was made control officer for the Middle West Area of the United States, and on December 23, 1941, Hensley became headquarters of the Midwest Area of the Air Corps Ferrying Command. It served as such until the ferry command became the Fifth Ferrying Group and was so expanded that it had to be moved to Love Field. The installation became Naval Air Station, Dallas, on January 1, 1943. Its initial mission was to provide primary flight training for naval, marine, and coast guard cadets. Enlisted personnel for aviation duty with the fleet were also trained there, and at one time a number of Free French aviators received flight training at NAS Dallas. During World War II the base also served as a radial engine repair station. Thousands of engines were overhauled there. NAS Dallas handled all air traffic for the adjacent North American Aircraft Company plant. It was also the flight test facility and the receiving station for 4,400 SNJ (Texan) training aircraft manufactured at that plant.

In early 1946 Congress appropriated funds to establish a naval reserve training program at NAS Dallas, and by March of that year the reserves had taken over the field. The United States Marine Air Reserve Training Command also established itself there at that time. Reservists from Texas, Oklahoma, and eastern New Mexico continued to train at NAS Dallas. Hensley Field passed from the command of the Air Force to that of the Navy on September 30, 1949, but the field continued to serve as an air force reserve training center. The air force conducted air operations for its reservists, for the air national guard, and for the USAF Civil Patrol regional office. In 1950 the naval reserve squadron stationed at NAS Dallas was the first air reserve squadron to be called to active service in the Korean War. The station continued to grow with the installation of new and longer runways. Jet aircraft were assigned to NAS Dallas in 1952. In 1963 the base was the first one to fly the F8 Crusader. The 1980s brought to the installation some of the nation's most sophisticated aircraft, including the F-14 (Tomcat) and the C9B. By 1990 there were 2,057 active-duty personnel on the base, with 6,789 reservists assigned to the station. The total economic impact of the base by then was almost $76 million. By the following year, more than 1,700 soldiers, sailors, and marines had been deployed from the base to the Persian Gulf.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Naval Air Station Historical Information (Dallas: NAS Dallas Public Affairs Office, 1991).

Art Leatherwood

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Art Leatherwood, "NAVAL AIR STATION, DALLAS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qbn02), accessed September 17, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.