[graphic] Aviation: From Sand Dunes to Sonic Booms A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
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[photo]
Amelia Earhart's airplane, the Vega, at Wheeler Field as she prepares for her Oahu to Oakland flight in January 1935
Photo courtesy of http://americahurrah.com

Established in 1922 as an Army airfield, Wheeler Field was the principal Army Air Corps field in Hawaii during the 1920s and early 1930s. Several "firsts" in flight history occurred at Wheeler--a 1927 nonstop flight from Oakland, California, to Wheeler and in 1935 Amelia Earhart took off from Wheeler on the first solo flight between Hawaii and California. By December 1941, Wheeler contained the headquarters of the 14th Pursuit Wing and the 15th and 18th Pursuit Groups and approximately 90 aircraft.

[photo] Images showing charred ruins of four P-40 pursuit planes on the flight line and the hangars
Photos from National Historic Landmark collection, courtesy Defense Audiovisual Agency; hangar photo by E.N. Thompson

During the first wave of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, 25 dive-bombers dropped approximately 35 bombs on the hangars at Wheeler Field. The Japanese airplanes returned to strafe the fight line, turning it into a river of fire. Four fighters from the 46th Pursuit Squadron were able to take to the air and attack the Japanese over southeastern Oahu. The second Japanese wave arrived and strafed the field, but caused little more damage before the attack ended at 9:45am. Eighty-three aircraft had been destroyed, 38 enlisted men were killed and 59 men were wounded. Wheeler Field quickly recovered and played an important role in World War II. The Seventh Air Service Command was established at Wheeler in 1944 to provide service and support for the B-29 bombers in the Marianas which began massive raids against Japan that fall. Placed in care-taking status in 1949, Wheeler Field was reactivated during the Korean War and houses Army helicopters today.

Wheeler Field, a National Historic Landmark, is adjacent to Schofield Barracks in central Oahu. It is located on the Wheeler Army Airfield, an active base and due to heightened security concerns, it is not accessible to the public.

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