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Inquiry Question

Historical Context

Map 1
Map 2

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Locating the Site


Map 3: World War II Aircraft Ferry Routes Originating from Floyd Bennett Field, 2003. [Map 3] with link to larger version of map.
(National Park Service)

Map 4: Naval Air Ferry Command transcontinental ferry route, c. 1943. [Map 4] with link to larger version of map.
(VRF-1 Association)

Naval Air Station (NAS) New York was home to the largest naval aviation squadron ever assembled, Air Ferry Squadron One (VRF-1). On December 1, 1943, it also became headquarters of the Naval Air Ferry Command which controlled all naval air ferry operations throughout the United States. Three naval air stations were the operating bases of the Naval Air Ferry Command--NAS New York, home of VRF-1 and VRF-4, NAS Columbus (Ohio), where VRF-2 was based and NAS Terminal Island (Los Angeles, CA), home of VRF-3. Approximately 100,000 new aircraft were commissioned into active service and delivered by all naval air ferry squadrons during the war.

Major transcontinental and coastal air ferry routes were laid out allowing for frequent stops at designated airports. Ferry service units or auxiliary ferry service units were located at these stopover airports to keep planes serviced and in flying trim. For ferrying purposes the United States was divided into an eastern zone and a western zone with the Mississippi River the boundary.

The Land and Proceed graphic on Map 4 gives instructions for a pilot to follow in the event that air to ground radio communication fails or is not available. The ground-to-air back-up communication system at El Centro telling pilots to "land" or "proceed" was a large canvas-strip signal lying on the ground. The graphic on Map 4 is informing the pilot that at El Centro there will be a canvas-strip signal--and if his radio fails and he can't communicate by voice with the air field--he is to land or proceed depending upon which canvas-strip signal is out.

Map 4 is stylized to show the general ferry routes—it is not meant to be exact.

Questions for Maps 3 & 4

1. Using the scale in the bottom of Map 3, answer the following questions. Using the shortest flight route, calculate the distance a VRF-1 ferry pilot would have to fly to deliver an aircraft from Floyd Bennett Field to:

  1. Norfolk
  2. San Diego
  3. Alameda

2. Using the key to Map 3, answer the following questions:

  1. How many stopover points were located between Dallas and San Diego?
  2. How many stopover points were located between Los Angeles and Seattle (by way of Madera)?
  3. How many Naval Air Ferry Command centers were there in the United States?

3. Use the key to Map 4 to answer the following questions:

  1. What two options were available to pilots if the radio fails at El Centro?
  2. What geographical feature does the Eastern-Western Zone appear to follow?
  3. After leaving Tucson, bound for Seattle, in what town will a pilot first find a liaison officer?
  4. After leaving Tucson, bound for Seattle, in what town will a pilot first find a service officer?

* The maps on this screen have a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Map 3 and Map 4, but be aware that each file may take as much as 60 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.

 

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