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HISTORY (continued 5 of 7)

Naval and civilian entities coexisted at Glenview for about three years. Although civilian operations at the field were limited, United Airlines initiated Mainliner service from Curtiss to New York via Cleveland and Philadelphia in the spring of 1938. According to the local weekly newspaper, The Glenview View, United offered the service "as a convenience to West North Shore residents."

 

The Navy personnel who managed the base were reservists who worked at the base during the day and went home at night. Cadets in training slept in quarters within Hangar One. Although there were no mess (food service) facilities, the Navy contracted with the owner of a boarding house about a mile away from the hangar to provide meals for the cadets. Three times a day the men marched to "Ma" Bunge's; the food was said to be excellent.

When it seemed possible that the United States could become involved in the war already well underway in Europe, the Navy moved to acquire the entire Curtiss property. Early in 1940 the Curtiss-Wright Corporation received a total of $530,000 for the hangar and the 319 acres that comprised the airfield. The Navy drove quite a bargain, considering that Curtiss had paid about $2 million to buy the land years earlier.

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Navy moved rapidly to expand its aviation program. Accordingly, $12.5 million was appropriated for construction to bring the Naval Reserve Aviation Base up to standards for a full primary training facility. In just 121 working days, one of the largest and fastest paving jobs ever undertaken in the midwest was completed. Almost 1.5 million square yards of ground were covered with concrete for landing mats and runways. Seemingly overnight the Navy had transformed the base into a self-contained community. Hangars and administration and ground-school buildings appeared around Hangar One, along with barracks, dining halls, a recreation hall, a fire house, a theater, and a hospital. Construction was completed in late 1942, and on New Year's Day, 1943, the airfield moniker was officially changed to Naval Air Station Glenview (NASG). Hangar One remained the largest and busiest building on the base.

Amidst the construction, the Navy, beefed up its operations; nearly 350 aircraft and five thousand men and women had been installed at Glenview by April 1942. The Navy initiated a Carrier Qualification Training Program for advanced pilots, and under the direction of Cmdr. Richard Whitehear, two converted Lake Michigan steamers were modified to allow cadets to practice landing on a deck that resembled that of an aircraft carrier. Both of these side-wheelers had their decks removed down to the water line and were rebuilt to simulate aircraft carriers. The luxury lake excursion ship S.S. Seandbee was commissioned the U.S.S. Wolverine and the S.S. Greater City of Buffalo became the U.S.S. Sable. The Sable and Wolverine were berthed at Navy Pier overnight and steamed northward on Lake Michigan each morning to receive Avengers, Corsairs, and Hellcats and their pilots. Hangar One was the point of departure for all aircraft and served as the nerve center of flight operations.

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