Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:

California: Santa Barbara area

© 2002, © 2013 by Paul Freeman. Revised 11/30/13.



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(Original) Hancock Field (revised 4/25/13) - Old Lompoc Airport / Lompoc NAAF (revised 11/30/13)

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Old Lompoc Airport / Lompoc NAAF, Lompoc, CA

34.65 North / 120.46 West (Northwest of Los Angeles, CA)

A 1928 photo of a Ford Tri-Motor owned by the Union Oil Company

at the Lompoc Airport on the occasion of the airport's dedication.

The Tri-Motor was the largest aircraft to have landed at the airport at that time.



The development of a municipal airport was first considered by the town of Lompoc in 1920.

The airfield was eventually established in 1928,

on land bordered by H Street & O Street, and College Avenue & Pine Avenue.



The earliest chart depiction which has been located of the Lompoc Airport

was on the 1933 San Francisco Airway Map (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

It depicted Lompoc as a commercial or municipal airport.



The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo)

described the Lompoc Municipal Airport as having a rectangular 1,450' x 550' landing area,

with a hangar on the southeast side of the field.



The December 1941 San Francisco Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Lompoc as a commercial or municipal airport.



After the start of Word War II,

a need was identified for an additional auxiliary field

to support antisubmarine blimp operations from NAS Santa Ana.

The Lompoc Airport site was chosen, and construction of expanded facilities began in 1942.



The station was commissioned in 1943 as Lompoc Naval Auxiliary Airfield.

Navy facilities consisted of a 1,000' x 500' asphalt landing mat, two blimp mooring masts,

and barracks for a total of 97 personnel.

 

Five days after the commissioning of NAAF Lompoc, it suffered its only fatalities.

Four ground handlers were electrocuted when a blimp they were mooring

came into proximity of a nearby high voltage power line.

 

 

In this 1943 aerial view looking west at Lompoc NAAF (National Archives photo),

the 2 blimp mooring rings were quite prominent.



A circa 1943-45 photo of a Navy blimp moored at Lompoc.



A circa 1943-45 aerial view of a blimp at Lompoc (courtesy of Harry Gordon).



Typical operations at Lompoc during WW2

consisted of a one or two blimp detachment from Santa Ana's ZP-31.

 

"NAAF Lompoc (LTA)" was described by the 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)

as having a 1,000' hard-surface runway, with a dirigible mooring mast.

 

"Lompoc (Navy)", as depicted on the March 1945 San Francisco Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

Note the blimp mooring mast symbol.



The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described Lompoc Naval Auxiliary Air Facility

as a 65 acre irregularly-shaped property within which was a 1,000' square landing mat & a 2,400' east/west oiled shale runway.

The field was said to not have any hangars,

to be owned by the U.S. Government, and operated by the Navy



The last Navy blimp departed Lompoc in late 1945,

and the station was placed into caretaker status.



A June 1946 Department of Commerce Airman's Guide (according to Chris Kennedy)

redesignated “Lompoc NAAF (LTA)” to “Lompoc Airport”, as of May 27, 1946.

At this point the airfield once again became Lompoc's municipal airport.



An undated aerial view looking east at the cluster of buildings on the east side of the original Lompoc Airport (courtesy of Harry Gordon).



An undated aerial view looking south at the original Lompoc Airport, with 2 of the blimp mooring circles visible at bottom-right (courtesy of Harry Gordon).



A December 29, 1946 photo by Harry Gordon of his good friend John Bennett in front of an Aeronca at the original Lompoc Airport.

Harry recalled, “On December 29, 1946, with a friend,

I rented an Aeronca Champion at Santa Barbara for a short cross-country to Lompoc Airport.

Neither of us had flown in the area before, and we apparently landed at the wrong field.

We found no facilities or airplanes and nobody there except a family living in a dilapidated building.

I think we were told that commercial operations had been moved to another Lompoc Airport.

I don't recall if the runway was dirt or old asphalt, but it was notably wavy, not flat.”



A December 29, 1946 photo by Harry Gordon of the runway of the original Lompoc Airport, with his Aeronca parked in front of the former airport operations building.

What appears to be the framework of a former hangar (being dismantled?) was next to it.



The 1947 USGS topo map depicted the original Lompoc Airport as an open area with several small buildings on the east side of the field.



The 1959 USGS topo map depicted the original Lompoc Airport as having a single east/west runway,

with several small buildings on the east side of the field.



The 1960 Jeppesen Airway Manual (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted the original Lompoc Airport as having a single 2,200' unpaved Runway 8/26,

which had a paved runway inset along the south side of the unpaved strip.

A cluster of buildings was depicted along the southeast corner of the field.

The 2 concrete rings originally used for blimp mooring were still depicted as well.



The last depiction which has been located of the original Lompoc Airport was a 4/1/60 USGS aerial view.

The east/west runway was visible, as was the remains of the 2 concrete rings originally used for blimp mooring.



The airport property was eventually overtaken by the rapid growth of the town of Lompoc.

The City purchased land 1.5 miles to the north,

and relocated the airport to that site in 1960.



As seen in a circa 2000 aerial view,

the old airport's property is now the location of Lompoc High School & a shopping center,

with not a trace remaining of the former airfield.



A 2003 photo by Tim Tyler of the site of the old Lompoc Airport. 

Tim reported that the site is "Now the Lompoc High School (west end)

with school buildings & numerous individual athletic fields."



Tim continued, "The large, modern strip mall is anchored by a Von’s, Sears, Big Lots,

Staples, and smaller enterprises all along the east end.

Rainbow Plaza & Parkside Garden Apartments are on the northeast quadrant of the former NAAF,

behind the strip mall."



Mike Loney reported in 2010, “Although the airport structures are all gone,

one building remains from the Naval Auxiliary Air Field.

The housing area south of the field (across College Avenue) - where the cluster of trees are...

After the war, possibly after Korea, this area was acquired by the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara County for use as low-income housing.

It was extensively rebuilt by the early 1980s, but the former Station CO's HQ/Quarters building remains,

and is used by HACSB as the Lompoc area maintenance administration office.”



See also: http://www.ci.lompoc.ca.us/splash/airport.pdf

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Original Hancock Field, Santa Maria, CA

34.94 North / 120.42 West (Northwest of Los Angeles, CA)

"Santa Maria" Airport, as depicted on the 1929 "Rand McNally Standard Map of CA With Air Trails" (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



Hancock Field was founded in 1927 by Captain Allan Hancock.

It was dedicated as the community's airport the following year.

 

The Hancock Foundation College of Aeronautics was established in 1928.

Ten-week classes were offered prospective pilot candidates,

with successful individuals becoming licensed pilots.

Graduation of the first students occurred in 1929.

 

The 1929 "Rand McNally Standard Map of CA With Air Trails" (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

described the Santa Maria Airport as a private airport, operated by Santa Maria Airlines, Inc.,

and that the field measured 2,680' x 500'.

 

The "Southern Cross" Fokker Tri-motor, visiting Hancock Field in 1930.

It had gained fame by accomplishing the first trans-Pacific flight by Charles Kingsford-Smith in 1928.



The earliest chart depiction which has been located of Hancock Field

was on the 1933 San Francisco Airway Map (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

It depicted Hancock as a commercial or municipal airport.



The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo)

described Hancock Field as consisting of a 2,600' x 2,600' oiled landing area.

"Santa Maria" was painted on the roof of the western hangar,

while "Hancock Field" was painted on the roof of the eastern hangar.



Just prior to the outbreak of WW2, the Hancock school was selected as one of 8 civilian institutions

to provide primary training to military aviation cadets.

This training began in 1939,

just 40 days after Captain Hancock had met with General Arnold.



A 1940 street map (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) depicted Hancock Field as having 3 unpaved runways, with a row of buildings along the north side.



An undated view of Stearman trainers on the flightline at Hancock Field.



The December 1941 San Francisco Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Hancock as a commercial or municipal airport.



An aerial view of a large number of biplanes lined up on the Hancock Field flightline (courtesy of Tim Tyler).

According to Bill McKee, this photo is pre-1942.

"The fairgrounds in the lower right of the photo were removed that year to allow for expansion of the field.

The buildings look pre-war from other photos I have.

Student barracks were added in 1940 & these are not on this photo, for instance."



An undated view of biplane trainers on the flightline at Hancock Field

(courtesy of Dee Dee Benford, Santa Maria Historical Museum).

According to Bill McKee, "This is an early-war [WW2] view of the lineup of PT-13 Stearman trainers

before a larger influx of these really made for a large sized contingent on the ramp."



A 1942 photo of two Stearman trainers from Hancock Field which had collided (courtesy of Bill McKee).

"Note that markings are not standard,

which was usually the case of these aircraft provided by the Army & maintained by the contractor."

 

An undated Hancock Yearbook, a publication of the Hancock School of Aeronautics (courtesy of Tim Tyler).

 

According to the USAAF History of AAFTD-1 (from the Air Force Historical Research Archives, according to Bill Kee),

the predominant trainer aircraft used at Hancock Field was the Stearman PT-13 biplane.

Rarely a week would pass without a crash.

Forced landings were common in the Santa Maria Valley,

with pilots often needing to make emergency landings in the dry Santa Maria riverbed.



A 7/23/43 aerial view looking north from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock)

depicted Hancock Field as having a rectangular landing area with a ramp & buildings along the north side.



Ken Barber recalled that Hancock Field was “my primary flight school where I first soloed the PT-13 Stearman.

I started flying there right after preflight at Santa Ana Army Air Base in Orange County

where after a strenuous evaluation was selected for pilot training & sent off to Santa Maria in September 1943.

I actually soloed at an auxiliary field at Guadalupe which was over toward the coast.

We also used other auxiliary fields for other purposes.

I have very pleasant memories of The Hancock College of Aeronautics

and have a special graduation certificate showing that I indeed graduated from that specific school.

Santa Maria was considered to be the country club of the primary flight schools in the Western Flying training command.”



"Hancock, Army" was described by the 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)

as having a 3,300' hard-surface runway,

although the remarks included, "3,900' turfed landing area available."



A 10/23/44 aerial photo (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee) depicted Hancock Field as having an unpaved airfield with a row of buildings along the north side.



Military flight training at Hancock Field continued until 1944.



Hancock Field was depicted as a commercial/municipal field

on the March 1945 San Francisco Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

 

An undated photo of the gate of the Hancock College of Aeronautics.



The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described Hancock Field

as a 225 acre irregularly-shaped property within which was a 3,310' east/west asphalt runway

and a 3,900' x 2,600' all-way sod landing area.

The field was said to have six 65' x 48' wood & metal hangars,

and to be privately owned & operated.



After the war Hancock Flight School was leased to USC for use as a 4-year Aeronautics Degree program.



The 1947 USGS topo map depicted Hancock Airport as having 3 paved runways & taxiways, with buildings along the north side.



The January 1948 San Francisco Sectional Chart (according to Dean Billing)

depicted Hancock as having a 3,400' hard-surface runway.



An August 1949 photo by Bill Larkins of a historic Bell P-59A (44-22614) which was languishing at the Hancock College of Aeronautics.



During the Korean War the Hancock school was used to train aviation mechanics.

 

In 1954 Santa Maria Junior College purchased the 40 acre airport site

and began construction of what is still operated today as the Allan Hancock Community College.

 

However, apparently Hancock Field still continued to operate as an airfield,

as it was still depicted as an active airfield on the 1955 & 1956 San Francisco Sectional Charts (according to Chris Kennedy).

The Aerodromes table listed the airfield as having 3 runways, with the longest being a 3,300' "road mix" strip.



The last photo which has been located of Hancock Field while it was still open

was on a 6/27/56 USGS aerial view (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee).

It depicted Hancock Field as having 3 runways.



The last aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of Hancock Field

was on the September 1957 San Francisco Sectional Charts (courtesy of Dale Knutsen).

It depicted Hancock Field as having a 3,300' paved runway.



Hancock Field was apparently closed at some point between 1957-59,

as the 1959 USGS topo map depicted the buildings of Allen Hancock College, but the airfield itself was no longer depicted at all.



A 4/1/60 USGS aerial view (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee)

appeared to show Hancock Field remaining largely still intact.



A 7/5/61 USGS aerial view (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee)

showed buildings starting to cover the airfield area of Hancock Field.



Hancock Field was no longer depicted at all on the 1966 San Francisco Sectional Chart.



A 9/2/78 USGS aerial view (courtesy of Dallam Oliver-Lee)

showed that buildings had covered the site of Hancock Field's runways at some point between 1960-78.



A circa 2001 aerial view of the site of Hancock Field, since reused as the site of the Allan Hancock Community College.

Some original buildings from the airport are still in use as part of the college.

But no traces of the original airfield layout were still perceptible in the photo.

 

A 2003 photo by Tim Tyler of "Building Y", which appears to date from the Hancock Field days.

 

Tim Tyler visited the site of the former Hancock Field in 2003.

His report: "Building ‘S’ is a long, 1 story wooden structure

that has a signature of perhaps dating back from the airfield days (warehouse, barracks, etc.).

The windows are now boarded up, and it looks like it most recently housed the college’s Academic Affairs offices.

Another college building that looks to be from the Hancock Field days is known as Building Y.

It is a concrete building with minor mission-style architecture, all boarded up now.

Building Z is apparently in use as the Student - Child Study Center,

and is located along College in between Oak & Park Avenues.

It looks to be of similar age & design to Building Y.

Sadly, Allan Hancock College doesn’t seem to offer any aviation related classes these days."

 

A 2003 photo by Tim Tyler of former hangars which remain at the site of Hancock Field.

 

"Many or perhaps all of the large old hangars are on East Oak Street & Arctic Avenue,

just West on the other side of College Street from Hancock College,

and are now in use by Santa Maria Furniture & Floor Covering,

Los Padres Glass & Mirror Co, Pacific Auction, Jim Agawa Radiator Service,

Custom Rod & Tackle Co, Central Coast Spring & Alignment, Sawyer Building Material,

German Joe’s Mobile Repair & Custom BBQs.

Other than a couple obvious hangars off of East Oak Street,

I don’t know for sure how many of these old structures date back to the Hancock Field days,

but they do look to be from the right era."

 

Ross Mayfield reported in 2004, "I live near & work in Santa Maria.

We used to have a business located in one the hangars west of the college.

I can tell you that almost all of the buildings on that portion of Oak street, west of the college

(except for the concrete building on the south side that sits next to College Avenue)

are all former Hancock Field Hangars.

There are also 4 hangar buildings from the original Hancock field that were relocated to Santa Maria Airport.

In the hangar that we were located in, up in the rafters

was a sign stating that no responsibility was claimed for items left inside of aircraft parked there.

Also, these hangars & several buildings recently torn down on the college campus

were featured in the film "Spirit Of St. Louis" starring Jimmy Stewart [released in 1957].

Many of the aviation scenes in the film that take place prior to the flight to Paris were filmed at Hancock Field."

 

A 2003 photo by Tim Tyler.

According to Bill McKee, this aircraft is a Fleet 2 which was procured in Florida

and then flown to the Santa Maria Museum of Flight where it was restored in colors & markings

accurate to aircraft flown by the Hancock Foundation College of Aeronautics in the early 1930s.



A 2006 aerial view looking north at the row of 60-year-old hangars which remain at the site of the original Hancock Field.

 

The name Hancock Field lives on today, as the much larger Santa Maria Airport

(several miles southwest of the original Hancock Field) has adopted the name Hancock Field.

The Santa Maria Museum of Flight is located at the Santa Maria Airport.

 

See also:

http://www.smmof.org/history.htm

http://www.countyconnections.org/projects/shaw/aviation/field.htm

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