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CA-62: Rice Army Airfield -- remembering wars

CA-62: Rice Army Airfield -- remembering wars
This may look boring, but it has historic importance.

Quite a bit east of Twentynine Palms, on CA 62, is the former town of Rice. There are no remains of the actual town of Rice but there are remains of an airfield. Looking up the Rice airfield on the web revealed three interesting facts. One was that the airfield had been one of about a dozen airfields that had been used in the desert during WW II and then abandoned. A second was that the airfield was much larger than one would guess just based on the immediately visible evidence. The third was the reminder of how permanent is construction in the desert. Even though very much of the airfield was apparently unpaved, quite a bit of the unpaved structure remains visible -- particularly in the satellite view (see map). From the ground, the remainder of some of the buildings are visible and a large aircraft parking area on the north end. But if you compare other markings on the ground to recent satellite photos of the site, you can clearly still tell the location of various taxiways even though the airport was decommissioned at least 50 years before these pictures were taken. This picture is of the only visible paved area of the airport, a large pad with tie-down rings, on the north end. In the satellite photo, this is the white pad on the north end.

Despite the featureless quality of these pictures, it is important to step back in time and reflect on what it was like to be here in the vast and empty desert, learning to fly and preparing for combat missions (and possible death) in WW II.

This would have been the late afternoon view of many who were training for war.

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In January, 2013, plans were announced to convert the former airfield to a solar energy plant

slgwv has particularly liked this photo


6 comments - The latest ones
slgwv
slgwv
They still find occasional use by drug smugglers!
3 years ago.
Don Barrett (aka DBs… has replied to slgwv
I would think so, but I haven't heard of any there. They seem to choose strips closer to the border.
3 years ago.
slgwv has replied to Don Barrett (aka DBs…
On that same family trip back in the 80s we parked on one of the old airstrips to camp, in my folks' motor home. Being naive, we didn't pick up on the significance of a huge pile of brush that had been stacked at one end of the strip--and not far from where we were parked. When my parents returned a few months later it was gone, burned to the ground. In retrospect, we now figure it was intended as a beacon for a plane flying in at night--and I would imagine they're not carrying tomatoes! It was probably not the smartest place to spend the night--
3 years ago.
Don Barrett (aka DBs… has replied to slgwv
I wouldn't have thought of it either, but that's just one of the reasons I get uncomfortable exploring the more open and empty BLM areas that are within a couple of 100 miles of the border.
3 years ago.
slgwv has replied to Don Barrett (aka DBs…
When I was working on my thesis in the late 70s, one of the areas I was working in was in western Utah (the southern House Range, to be exact). I was warned back then that the playas in the valleys were known to be used by drug smugglers. And that's quite a ways from the border!
3 years ago.
Don Barrett (aka DBs… has replied to slgwv
The House Range is an area I've meant to check out, I understand the old US 50 makes it fairly accessible. From what of the Nev/Utah border that I've explored north of the 50, it felt fairly lawless.
3 years ago.