Located at Bartow’s Executive Airport, Bartow Airbase History Museum displays the rich history of this airport from it’s time as a US Army Fighter Replacement Training Station and US Air Force Air Training Command. The Museum owns and displays copies of many yearbooks published by the 70 pilot training classes between 1952 and 1961. Visitors will also see issues of The Eaglet, the Air Base monthly newspaper, and artifacts recovered from P-51 aircraft that crashed into Lake Hancock. WWII pilot uniforms are on display as well.
History of Bartow Airbase
The Airbase was originally constructed during WWII as a training field for the US Army Air Corps. Bartow Army Airfield was operated as a Fighter Replacement Training Station providing facilities for a fighter group and two fighter squadrons flying P-51 aircraft. Pilots were trained in aerial combat maneuvers, gunnery and dive bombing. In 1945, the base was deactivated and turned over to the City of Bartow where a fixed base operator (FBO) ran the airfield and flight line until 1950. At that time, U.S. Government exercised its reversal clause for the facility and again took control.
Air Training Command School
US Air Force contracted with a private company, Garner Aviation, in 1950 and in 1955 with Truman Miller, to make Bartow Air Base a flight training center for military pilots. The civilian run center hired World War II veterans as flight instructors, and was one of 9 such training around the country. The airfield was renamed Bartow Airbase, and was a primary flight training facility for the Air Training Command from 1951 to 1960. More than 8,000 men graduated from the school, including astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Ed White, and Karol Bobko. Aldrin came to Bartow in 1951 to receive his first flight training after graduating from West Point.
Bartow Executive Airport
Today, the 20,000 sq. ft. General Aviation Terminal houses the Bartow Airport Authority and Bartow Flying Service. Plan to have lunch at Runways at Bartow, the onsite restaurant, before or after visiting Bartow Airbase History Museum.