History: Did You Know There Was an WWII Airfield at Sossaman and the 60?


Sometime between 1938 and 1943, the Gilbert Auxiliary Army Airfield #1 was constructed at what is now the intersection of Sossaman and the US-60 in what was then known as Buckhorn, Arizona.

The airfield was build during World War 2 as a satellite airport for Williams Army Air Force Base, which is now Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. The Gilbert Auxiliary field was used for training pilots on twin engine and four engine bombers, as well as single-engine fighters.  The Gilbert Auxiliary field had two paved runways 4,000 feet in length, as well as a taxiway on the east side.

By the mid-1960s, the airfield fell into disuse and by 1966 was no longer depicted on aeronautical charts.  Reports and photos of the runway being used by an occasional Cessna 150 for touch and go practice showed vegetation taking over the deteriorating asphalt. By 1970, construction of the Desert Sands Golf Course had covered sections of the runway.

In the bottom photo, by Derek Hofmann, you can see the remnant of the runway as recently as 2006. Since then, further development such as the Costco has erased nearly every remnant of the runway. Derek noted that “the only way you [could] tell from sight along that there was ever a runway [was] by inspecting the plant growth pattern. Only weeds [seemed] to grow in the dirt over the runway, and in patterns indicative of cracks in the asphalt.”

For more stories of abandoned airfields in the East Valley, visit http://www.airfields-freeman.com/AZ/Airfields_AZ_Phoenix_SE.htm

Gilbert Auxiliary Airfield in 1958.

Aerial photo from 1970 showing
remnants of the runway admist
new construction.

A 2005 aerial view annotated to
show the outline of the runways.

A photo looking southwest at the current site
near the Costco at Sossaman and the 60 shows what
was then left of the runway.