Primary Flight Training   Albany, Georgia

In 1940 the United States Army Air Corps was establishing civilian pilot training schools at airports in the southeast, with its moderate weather. Previously Albany Airport was rejected as an advanced training base, Turner Army Airfield was built north of Albany instead), but approved Albany Airport for a primary contract school in June. The City agreed to provide $500,000 for further improvements to the landing field, the completion of the passenger terminal, the cost of constructing two hangars and half the cost of a third hangar. An additional investment of over $400,000 was made by Hal S. Darr, owner of the contract flying school for the construction of the cantonment area and one half the cost of one hangar. Ground was broken in July 1940. The Army Air Corps named the school the 52nd Army Air Force Fight Training Detachment. Thus Darr Aero Tech became the first Army Air Corps activity constructed in Georgia during the buildup to World War II.

On 15 August 1940, the first class of 45 cadets began training. The cadets were initially housed in the Georgia Hotel until the barracks reached completion on 20 August. Flight training commenced with 15 PT-13 Stearmans and 11 flight instructors. Seven classes of American cadets were trained until July 1941. On June 8, 1941, the school received the first British RAF cadets. For the next 14 months, Darr's classes were exclusively British. A conflict existed between Turner and Darr over airspace. Generally, Turner's airspace was located north of Albany and Darr's south of Albany. Where the areas overlapped, Turner's aircraft flew above 5,000 ft. and Darr's below 5,000. Darr's three auxiliary fields were located south of Albany.

Louisiana Maneuvers   September 1941 

 Lt. Joseph R. McWhirt

Lt. Joseph R. McWhirt

 3rd Attack Group A-20A   








 Carolina Maneuvers    November 1941

Col. Philips Melville   3rd Attack Group C.O.




Australia - New Guinea

On March 3, 1943, Captain Joseph R. McWhirt led a squadron of 6 B-25s in the afternoon raid on the Japanese shipping during the Battle of the Bismark Sea. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 21 May, 1943.  Below is the story concerning his participation in the attack. 

Capt.Joseph R. McWhirt - Battle of the Bismark Sea