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HISTORY (continued 6 of 7)

The stay at Glenview for carrier training candidates was usually brief. Successful completion required eight successful takeoffs and landings aboard one of the lake "carriers". Candidates could often qualify in two or three days if weather conditions were favorable.Aircraft taking off from NASG headed east over Wilmette to rendezvous near the landmark Baha'i Temple (code name: Point Obo) and awaited instructions from a radio operator aboard ship. Terrified or not, each pilot concentrated on setting his craft down on a pitching deck that looked to be the size of a postage stamp. Of course, not every attempt was successful; many planes still lie at the bottom of Lake Michigan as a result of missed landings or other accidents. However, losses were relatively small in light of the magnitude of the operation.
 

The mammoth Hangar One contained a mock-up carrier deck to train ground crews. Complete in virtually every detail, it provided trainees with a way to learn the job they would do once aboard ship. Men were able to prepare for their future sea duty without ever having set foot aboard an actual aircraft carrier.

Some who served at Naval Air Station Glenview went on to become famous. Film star Robert Taylor, well-known in Hollywood prior to the war years, served as a primary flight instructor and was featured in a number of training films made both at Glenview and Pensacola. He and his wife, actress Barbara Stanwyck, lived in Glenview for a time, then moved to a home in nearby Park Ridge. Nineteen-year-old George Herbert Walke Bush successfully qualified as a carrier pilot aboard the Sable during a three-day stint at NASG. Toward the end of the war, a young officer named Gerald Ford returned to Glenview to finish out his tour of duty with the Navy. Although not an aviator, he had seen plenty of action with the fleet in the Pacific.

By the end of World War II, nine thousand primary aviation cadets had been trained at Glenview, along with fifteen thousand carrier pilots. It was estimated that 2.25 million takeoffs and landings had been accomplished at the base during the war years. Although the field's place in air racing's Golden Age was exciting and entertaining, the years 1942 - 44 were certainly the most crucial in their influence upon the nation's history. Geographically, NASG was in a relatively secure location and was able to facilitate training not possible at other installations. There was concern about enemy submarine activity off both the east and west coasts of the United States. In addition, all available aircraft carriers were deployed for combat during the war. The training program at Glenview kept the fleet supplied with pilots and support crews. One veteran of the Pacific fleet summed it up: "Japan ran out of pilots and we didn't; NASG made the difference.

Following the war, Glenview's primary mission was the training of reservists. In 1946 Naval Air Station Glenview became Naval Air Reserve Training Command Headquarters. Two squadrons from Gleview went on active duty in the Far East during the Korean conflict. Units from Glenview provided support personnel during the Berlin and Cuban missal crises. Support personnel from the base participated in every U.S. military involvement from Vietnam through Desert Storm. Naval Air Station Glenview continued to produce famous aviators; Neil Armstrong was a reservist at the base prior to his entry into the space program. As the first astronaut to walk on the moon, he added yet another page to the NASG's distinguished history. During its last years, the base was home to every branch of the service except the Air Force. In addition to Navy reserves, units of the Marines, Army, and Seabees were located there, as was a Coast Guard search-and-rescue team.

 

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