Ensign William R. Barnett completed fighter operational training in the F6F Grummann Hellcat while at the Naval Air Station, Florida.
World War II brought about a critical condition for the defense of our country. The Navy was caught in the process of trying to build up a carrier task force but lacked money and support from Congress. The war with Japan made the political personnel aware that the war would have to be fought in the waters of the Pacific and its islands.
Rising to this occasion the Navy initiated three major programs to accomplish their tasks. They gave the Grumman Corporation the go ahead to build the F6F Hellcat on an accelerated basis. Secondly they set up a recruiting program which this country had never before seen the likes of. Cadets would have to be trained and quickly. Thirdly, the operational flight training which had been done at two airfields, NAS Norfolk Virginia and NAS San Diego, California, could not possibly handle the amount of newly graduating Navy and Marine pilots. To solve this they built eight new Naval Auxiliary Air Stations to handle the large wave of future pilots reporting for operational training. One Air Station was built in Georgia and seven were built on the east coast of Florida. Each Air Station would handle training for specific needs. NAS Melbourne, Florida was commissioned October 20, 1942 and was designated a day fighter Station.
Cadets receiving their Wings of Gold were ordered to one of these seven Naval Air Stations and some going to NAS Melbourne to take up the challenge of "top gun" fighter training.
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Author: William R. Barnett
Title: US Naval Air Station, Melbourne, Fla WWII
Hard Cover ISBN 0-7388-5632-0
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Trade Paperback ISBN 0-7388-5633-9