I always love finding out stuff, particularly history stuff, so I was doubly-amazed when I ran across a massive amount of information on a faded, historical airfield in Indiana called Freeman Army Air Field.
With a secret stash of Nazi planes, training facilities and taking part in breaking down the segregration of the armed services, Freeman field played a pivotal role in our history.
Have you heard about this?
Organized in 1942 and with four runways, Freeman Field trained over 4000+ pilots during World War II and was the first base for training pilots in helicopter use. Gus Grissom trained here as well.
But the things that Freeman is famous for is the role that is so often overlooked…that is the evaluation and usage of captured enemy airframes during the war. With German, Italian, and even Allied planes tested here, much knowledge was gained not to mention the possibility of flying equipment that many never got the chance to!
Says the Aerohistorian:
“…One of the requirements when collecting the German aircraft was that they had to be accompanied by a year’s supply of spare parts to support the flight-testing program. This included spare engines, tires, landing gear, control surfaces, instruments and any other parts that could not be readily available at Wright Field. Therefore, many crates of parts came over with the aircraft. By the time the material was arriving at Wright Field, it had been decided to use Freeman Field, Seymour, Indiana, as the evaluation site. Freeman was about 90 miles northwest of Dayton….”
One of the neatest things is that currrently, several organizations have concluded that after the war, much of this captured equipment was not all traded away or destroyed. Much of it was buried near the airfield. Currently, many parts have been found including engine and airframe components. Research is still going on.
However, there is more to the field than just captured equipment and buried treasure. The base also played a pivotal role in the integration of the armed services. During the war, the 477th Bombardment Group stationed here. Due to racism on the base, the officers were barred from using the Officers Club. Protesting such treatment, over 150+ plus officers took matters into their own hands, staging an orderly, peaceful protest against such crazy rules and poor leadership from above. Unfortunately, the leadership on the post panicked and arrests were made, with several officers records flagged. Although postwar most records were cleared, it wasn’t until the latter part of the 1990′s that some officer’s records were completely cleared of any misconduct.
This is great history and I fear one of the many facts and information on the war that knowledge of is rapidly disappearing into the archives. We should know this stuff! I’ve assembled some good links below to check out. Please take a few minutes to look them over.
Have a great day, see you later!