Randolph Air Force Base

Randolph Air Force Base, about fifteen miles northeast of San Antonio, was identified as the "West Point of the Air" when it was officially dedicated on June 20, 1930. Beginning as a primary and basic flying training base, the Central Instructor’s School began in the mid-1940s, and ever since then, teaching pilots to instruct undergraduate pilots has been a major part of Randolph’s mission. The idea for Randolph came soon after the enactment of the Air Corps Act of 1926. The Act changed the name of the Army Air Service to the Army Air Corps, provided a five-year expansion program for the under-strength Air Corps, and established two new brigadier general positions for the Army. One of these new positions placed a general officer in charge of all flying training for the Air Corps. Brig. Gen. Frank P. Lahm (later known as "the father of Randolph Field") was selected to fill this position, which proved to be a pivotal event in the history of Randolph Air Force Base. Once placed in charge of flying training, General Lahm established the Air Corps Training Center at Duncan Field, adjacent to Kelly Field (see KELLY AIR FORCE BASE). Soon thereafter he realized that the Air Corps training requirements had become too great for Brooks and Kelly fields, and that another field dedicated to flying training was needed—preferably in an area in which San Antonio's rapid growth would not hinder the training operations. The initial site chosen for the new field was a place known as Calf Hill, less than ten miles east of the city on Hedwig Road, just south of the site of the Woodlake Country Club. An essential tract of land owned by William Rittiman, however, could not be obtained, so General Lahm dismissed the site. Around November 1927, nineteen sites for the new airfield were submitted to General Lahm for his consideration. Finally, a 2,300-acre tract near Schertz was decided upon for the new field.

In mid-August 1928 the land near Schertz was given to the United States government. The city of San Antonio raised the money for the land by passing an ordinance authorizing $500,000 in city notes, which were backed by delinquent taxes owed to the city. To keep taxpayers from holding a lien on the land, the Airport Company obtained loans from various area banks, which allowed the company to purchase the land and give it to the city. The city of San Antonio then paid off the company's note with the money received from the back taxes. Before and during the search for a new training field, a young first lieutenant named Harold Clark was busy designing his ideal "Air City" on the back of dispatch sheets while assigned as a dispatch officer at the Kelly Field motor pool. Before entering the U S. Army, Lieutenant Clark had trained as an architect. When he learned that the new field was to be built, Clark took his drawings to General Lahm, who was so impressed with his designs that he had Clark detailed on special duty to his office so he could work full-time on developing his design. At the time, the Randolph Field project was the largest construction project undertaken by the United States Army Corps of Engineers since the Panama Canal. It took more than five years—from 1928 to 1933—to construct the 500-plus Spanish Colonial Revival-style buildings and the thirty miles of roadways. In the end, the buildings of the base were centered on the field, with the administration building providing the perfect centerpiece. The base streets were laid out concentrically, and the aircraft ramps and runways on the east, west, and south portions of the base formed a square perimeter around the circular layout of the field. After the site for the new field was selected, a committee decided to name the base after Capt. William Millican Randolph, a native Texan and a graduate of Texas A&M. The captain was killed on February 17, 1928, when his AT-4 crashed on takeoff from Gorman Field in Texas. Ironically, Captain Randolph had been a member of the committee assigned to select a name for the new airfield.

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Timothy M. Brown, Lane Bourgeois | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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Randolph Air Force Base is classified as a Town


Latitude: 29.52930690
Longitude: -98.27800500

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