Leased to the Army Air Corps in early 1942, the newly constructed Sarasota Bradenton Airport became the Sarasota Army Airfield during World War II. Initially a 620-acre facility, the Army added 250 acres to the site in the course of its use. The 97th Bombardment Group transferred in March 1942 from MacDill in Tampa to begin training on the B-17 Flying Fortress. Designated a sub-base of MacDill in June of that year, the base soon changed focus. Because the runways could not withstand the weight of the bombers, the 69th Fighter Squadron transferred to Sarasota from Drew Army Airfield in Tampa to train on P-39 Airacobras. With the surrender of the Japanese in August of 1945, pilot training was gradually discontinued. The base was deactivated on December 31, 1945, and it eventually became the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport.
This film includes footage of the airfield’s personnel and training activities throughout its final year as a military facility. It also incorporates earlier home movie footage of one of the pilot trainees in uniform with his young family in Arkansas and possibly Florida. Shots of a P-51 Mustang show pilots in the cockpit and it taxiing on the runway and taking off and landing. AT-6 Texan airplanes as well as army vehicles, including fuel trucks, ambulances, Jeeps and other equipment, also sit on the airfield. There are shots of barracks, offices and wooden hangers. A close shot shows the airfield control tower along with personnel bicycling, playing horseshoes and clowning for the camera. A sign displays the work requirements and flying hours required for the day, week and month; a second sign says "Squadron T." Fighter planes fly in formation and practice against targets at the shoreline. Cockpit views show the pilots shooting at "target socks" towed behind other airplanes. The film features additional aircraft, including the P-47 Thunderbolt and the Beechcraft Model 18.
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