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Iowa History Daily: October 2 - Ottumwa

Iowa History Daily: On October 2, 1947, the last Navy airplane left the Ottumwa Naval Air Station following World War II. An important training location for pilots, many airmen earned their wings soaring over southern Iowa skies.

As Americans geared up for global war during 1940, Ottumwa sent a delegation to Washington D.C. in the hopes of lobbying for a munitions factory. Despite the efforts, the plant instead ended up going to Burlington. However, when the country sought to build a military airport in the region, Iowa Congressmen Karl LeCompte helped the city successfully sell the seat of Wapello County to Navy officials.

Local citizens bought up over $200,000 in bonds to assist in the costs of construction on the 1,440-acre site north of Ottumwa. When the Navy handed over $1 to the city with the understanding a reciprocal transaction would take place when the armed forces no longer needed the airport, the station stood ready for training in March 1943.

During its 2.5 years in service to the Navy, Ottumwa’s facility logged 397,214 training flights totaling 605,553 hours. A total of 6,656 people reported for flight training, and 4,626 completed primary training at NAS Ottumwa before shipping out, most of them to the Pacific theater of operations. The buildings, constructed of materials cast at Ottumwa Brick and Tile, continued to serve the community well after the war ended and the last Navy flyers left the runway. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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