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Unique Reenactment Celebrating 70th Anniversary of Williams Field and Falcon Field

Public Information & Communications

For Release: July 15, 2011
Contact: Steven Wright
Public Information & Communications Director
480-644-2069 Tel
480-258-4762 Cel

Unique reenactment celebrating 70th anniversary of Mesa’s groundbreaking for Falcon Field and Williams Field

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and other dignitaries took part in a reenactment today of what former Mesa Mayor George Goodman participated in 70 years ago: a groundbreaking for two separate air strips which played a key role in the training of pilots during World War II and the growth of Mesa and the east valley.

The groundbreaking reenactment followed the same pattern used July 16, 1941 when a ceremony was held for Williams Field (later Williams Air Force Base, now Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport) followed by a caravan to a second ceremony for Falcon Field. Those community events started more than five million dollars worth of construction to build airstrips that would train hundreds of World War II pilots for the United States Army Air Corps at Williams Field and for the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and U.S. Cadets at Falcon Field.

“When Mayor Goodman helped break ground 70 years ago, I’m sure he could not imagine how Williams Field would eventually become a successful commercial airport and a fast growing aerospace and education center,” Mayor Scott Smith said. “Likewise, he would be amazed at the transformation of Falcon Field from a small but vital training base during World War II to one of the busiest general aviation airports in the country.”

Among those participating in today’s reenactment at Williams Field was Glenn Guthrie, one of two Mesa Eagle Scouts who raised the first American flag at Williams Field in September, 1941 and lowered the last American flag at Williams Air Force Base when it closed in September, 1993. Among those participating in today’s reenactment at Falcon Field were Ken Beeby, Dennis Barber and Dick Cooper, three British RAF Cadet Pilots who trained there, and Horace Griffen, an American instructor for Falcon Field RAF Cadet Pilots.

The groundbreaking reenactment was sponsored by several community partners including Mesa Chamber of Commerce, Boeing, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Mesa Historical Museum, Commemorative Air Force Museum and City of Mesa. It is part of “Mesa Takes Flight,” a year-long concept that will explore flight and the concept of flight. The concept is serving as an umbrella for Mesa’s celebration of the StateCentennial.