Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dale Mabry Airfield Project Paper #18

 If you went up to random people and asked about local historical sites in Tallahassee, most people would say something about the Mission at San Luis and leave it at that. Probably because it’s one of the only historical sites that is smack right in the middle of FSU and TCC with tons of students and professionals who drive by it every day. 

But there is one that hundreds of people go to and don’t even realize it. 

That specific historical site is the Dale Mabry Tallahassee Airfield. Tallahassee’s Dale Mabry field became an U.S. Army base on January 24, 1941 partly with the generous help from U.S. Senator Claude Pepper and Florida Governor Spessard Holland. Local officials decided to honor Army Captain Dale Mabry, son of former Florida Supreme Court Justice Milton H. Mabry, and name the newly commissioned airfield after him. Dale Mabry was an American World War 1 aviator and a Tallahassee native. After WW1 Dale Mabry went on to pilot airships in the U.S. Army Air Service. In Norfolk, Virginia on February 21, 1922 a tragic accident occurred. While test driving a dirigible, which is just a fancy word for airship, named Roma it crashed and 34 lives were lost that day. At the time this event marked the biggest disaster in American aeronautical history.

Although the base became an actual fully functioning military base in January 1941, military activity started in October of 1940 with the building of a railroad and technological improvements that were laid down on the foundation to counteract and control the swampy conditions of the site. During the span of World War 2, Dale Mabry Airfield exponentially grew from a measly 530 acres to an outstanding 1,720 acres with 133 buildings! Talk about growing up fast. I bet the architects that designed it shed a tear from all their hard work and seeing their plans become real. 

Well maybe not it was war times, honestly I wouldn’t be able to make a bet on that. Maybe the architects were cold hearted people who didn’t know how to express emotions. 

There’s too many variables, I don’t know if I want to bet on that anymore. Now although the airfield was shut down to the public, commercial airlines still used the field during the war. The commercial airlines usually were favored with the traffic controllers because what traffic controller wants to deal with a testosterone raging 19 year old learning how to pilot a military aircraft? Not I said the fly (I’m the fly).