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Essex Airfield


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#1 roadhound

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 05:55 PM

My son and I did some exploration while driving through the Mojave desert a few weeks ago. I had found an airstrip near the town of Essex that was part of a larger Army camp and played a part in Patton's preparations for fighting in North Africa. A full report is posted on my blog at the link below.

http://www.rwphotos.com/blog/?p=624

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#2 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 10:36 PM

Rick,

Impressive piece with some good closing advice. I love this kind or roadside history.

It is hard to imagine 27,000 men and perhaps a handful of B-17s sitting just off Route 66 in 1942. Great images and a really nice site to share.
Thanks from a guy who was alive at the time, but a little young to remember! :driving:

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#3 mga707

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 11:12 PM

All I can say is "Wow"! I love this stuff, especially with my love of aviation history as well as old road travel. I knew that Patton's tanks had trained in this area, much of which is now part of the Mojave National Preserve (north of I-40), but was unaware of the Essex airfield. 5000-ft. steel-matted runways would certainly have been more than adequate for any aircraft in the Army Air Corps' 1942 inventory (pre-B-29, which would have needed a bit more runway length). I can imagine C-47s (military DC-3s) buzzing in and out of there with men and supplies for Patton's army!

#4 roadhound

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 12:30 AM

@mga707- I too have that fondness for aviation history which is why I had to stop and investigate when I passed through the area. During my pre-trip research I found that there were a couple of other airfields carved out of the desert that were used as emergency landing fields for civilian flights during the 30's. The most obvious is east of Goffs which can be seen from Goffs Road and although it has been overgrown with the sagebrush you can still make out a a large V carved into the desert. The other was further west near Amboy.

@Dave - The advice was based on experience. Fortunately I always have a shovel and cribbing with me on my road trips and we were quickly able to dig out and get back on a more solid road.

#5 knightfan26917

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 09:54 PM

Ah, very cool, Rick. Sure appreciate you sharing the pics and blog.




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#6 DennyG

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 03:08 AM

Now that's off the beaten path -- and airways. Nice stuff.

#7 mga707

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 10:07 PM

@mga707- I too have that fondness for aviation history which is why I had to stop and investigate when I passed through the area. During my pre-trip research I found that there were a couple of other airfields carved out of the desert that were used as emergency landing fields for civilian flights during the 30's. The most obvious is east of Goffs which can be seen from Goffs Road and although it has been overgrown with the sagebrush you can still make out a a large V carved into the desert. The other was further west near Amboy.


There is still a similar such airstrip near Desert Center, between Indio and Blythe along I-10/old US 80. In the VERY early days of commercial aviation--late '20s/early '30s--it was often used as a "potty break" on the LA-Phoenix run, as the early airliners of the day such as the Fokker VII used by Standard Airlines/Western Air Express (in 1930 this route was sold to American Airways--now Airlines) did not have on on-board lavatory like the slightly later Ford Tri-Motor did.

Edited by mga707, 23 April 2012 - 10:08 PM.


#8 roadhound

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 12:57 PM

There is still a similar such airstrip near Desert Center, between Indio and Blythe along I-10/old US 80. In the VERY early days of commercial aviation--late '20s/early '30s--it was often used as a "potty break" on the LA-Phoenix run, as the early airliners of the day such as the Fokker VII used by Standard Airlines/Western Air Express (in 1930 this route was sold to American Airways--now Airlines) did not have on on-board lavatory like the slightly later Ford Tri-Motor did.


Air travel back then would have been an adventure. They were flying in unpressurezed cabins subject to the heat and cold of the outside environment with cruise speeds in the 90 mph range. They weren't much faster than today's highway speeds but still much faster than the roads of the day.




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