Bolling Air Force Base Closed, 1962

Only Helicopters Now At Famed Airfield

Bolling Air Force Base, at Washington, D. C., was named for Raynal C. Bolling, first officer of the Signal Corps, Aviation Section, to be killed in combat during World War I. The field was opened July 1, 1918; forty-four years later, July 1, 1962, its use for operation of fixed- wing aircraft was closed. Special honor was accorded, in the closing ceremonies, to former Commanding Officers of the Base, among whom were two Early Birds. Three other members of our Organization were there, notably General Benjamin D. Foulois; the others were Vincent Burnelli and your historian Paul Edw. Garber.
     One of these Early Birds is the oldest-living former Commander of this Base. General Martin F. Scanlon, as a Major, directed operations at the field as its second leader, from November 1919 to June 1922. He was Commander again from January 1935 for one year. The ninth Commander was another Early Bird, General Howard C. Davidson who served from January 1928 to August 1932. In all, there were twelve former Commanders at the ceremony.
     At the Anniversary dinner that evening in the ballroom of the Bolling Officer's Club, General Allen, who is an energetic member of the National Air Museum Advisory Board, and a staunch friend of the Early Birds, gave a historic review of notable events at the base, illustrated by motion pictures. He made special mention of the Lawson Airliner of 1920. That early transport airplane, embodying many advanced features, and excellent flying qualities, was designed by Early Bird Vincent Burnelli. In the course of an extended cross-country flight, starting from Milwaukee and including visits to several principal cities, it had landed at Bolling. There, a distinguished group of government officials who had come to see this unusual airplane and who had stepped aboard to inspect the interior, were unexpectedly taxied out and airborne to the great concern of these passengers, and watchers on the field who had suddenly realized that if anything tragic happened, the balance of power in our national executive and legislative bodies would have been greatly affected. Happily, Burnelli's engineering skill as embodied in the Lawson Airliner, brought the notable group safely back to earth.
     The decision to terminate airplane flights at Bolling, and also at the adjacent Anacostia Naval Air Station, was reached after a computation of air traffic showed heavy concentration in the Airport, which is just across the river. The Bolling and Anacostia areas are among the few large tracts of land remaining in the District of Columbia, and parts of them may now become available for industrial, residential, and other governmental uses. Part of Bolling will continue as an airfield, but helicopters will be the only aircraft stationed there. At the end of an inpressive day dedicated to a famous Base which has served our nation through two world wars and into the jet and rocket age, the Early Birds and their friends reverently close the last page of a wonderful story. P.E.G.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP
October, 1962, Number 69

BackNext Home