Historic Brookley Field

From Private Field to Industrial Center

A Municipal Airport for Mobile

In these early years, Baites Field was also constantly seeing improvements made to enhance its operability as an airport.[1] Partly, this may have been a matter of pride in keeping up with the rest of the country, as Alabama had been managing to do with new airport construction.[2] Unfortunately, some of these improvements were also spurred on by disaster, such as the June 1931 crash that killed three. The Crash was blamed on a lack of lighting and no prior warning for the airport of the flight.[3] Another period of imrovements to the airport aiming for safety followed in February of 1933.[4]

In 1937, Bates Field underwent another period of repairs, aided by the Works Progress Administration, that saw it unavailable to the public for a few short months. The public reaction to this period of repairs shows how appreciative the public was of the airport and how it had become a part of the local fabric in the short period that it had been in service.[5] Another customer that Bates Field sought to win over was the military. Mobile worked to have Bates Field chosen as the training base for the 106th Observation Squadron and made improvements to Bates Field’s surroundings to show their earnestness.[6] Eventually, they did manage to have the aviation wing stationed at the airport for planned military maneuvers, a bit of foreshadowing of the relationship that was to come for the field and the military.[7]

[1] “Bates Field Improvements,” The Birmingham News, October 05, 1930, Page 10

[2] “Alabama Keeping Up With Nation In Construction of New Airports,” The Montgomery Advertiser, August 12, 1936, Page 5

[3] “Fatal Plane Fall Is Blamed On Darkness,” The Birmingham News, June 12, 1931, Page 1

[4] “Relief Workers Start Airport Improvements,” The Alexander City Outlook, February 09, 1933, Page 7

[5] “Mobile Misses Her Airport,” The Selma Times-Journal, November 16, 1937, Page 4

[6] “Seeks Training Place,” The Birmingham News, June 27, 1936, Page 7

[7] “War Maneuvers Plans Announced,” The Montgomery Advertiser, January 22, 1938, Page 7