Cross City Air Force Station


Originally a small civil airport, during World War II it was active as a training base for Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics and Third Air Force.

Closed after the war and returned to civil control, in 1958 the United States Air Force exercised a right of return and a portion of the airport became an Air Defense Command ground interceptor radar site. Closed by the Air Force in 1970, the radars were turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Today it is part of the Joint Surveillance System (JSS), designated by NORAD as Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) Ground Equipment Facility J-10.


The airport was opened as a public airport in April, 1940. In August 1942, the facility was requisitioned by the United States Army Air Forces, and construction began to convert the Civil Aeronautics Administration airport in Cross City to a dive bomber military training airfield. The construction included the addition of and improvements to buildings, taxiways, roads, and hard stands. Historical documents list three ranges at the Cross City AAF: a shoot-in-butt, a rifle range, and a skeet range.


Known as Cross City Army Airfield, it was used as part of the Army Air Forces Center (AAF Center)'s combat simulation school in Central and Northern Florida and as a unit training center by Third Air Force.


Activated on 27 October 1942 as part of the Air University Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics, Cross City AAF was assigned as a sub-base of Orlando Army Air Base, and came under the jurisdiction of the 50th Fighter Group stationed at Orlando.


The 50th assigned the 305th Fighter Squadron (Single Engine), flying Bell P-39 Airacobra aircraft to the field on 21 October 1942.[1] to fly training missions from Cross City. In June 1943, this squadron was replaced by the AAF Center's 81st Fighter Squadron (Single Engine), flying P-47 Thunderbolts until 1 February 1944.


In support of the training mission, the Horseshoe Point Auxiliary Airfield (29°28'19?N 083°18'18?W) was used by the school as an auxiliary and emergency landing airfield. No personnel were permanently assigned to Horseshoe Point.


The Air University training mission ended in late June 1944, when Cross City was officially reassigned to III Fighter Command. With the transfer, Cross City was assigned to Third Air Force and became a sub-base of Alachua Army Airfield, near Gainesville, assigned to the Commando Squadron Fighter Training School.


A different mission of sorts was ordered by III Fighter Command, the training of Air Commando fighter units for the China Burma India Theater and the invasion of Burma. Cross City was initially assigned squadrons of the 2d and 3d Air Commando Groups training with North American P-51 Mustang fighters. However, it was decided by Third Air Force to consolidate the Commando fighter Squadron training at Alachua AAF. Instead, the Liaison Squadrons of the 2d Air Commando Group were moved to Cross City from Lakeland Army Airfield in late June. Through the summer and early fall of 1944, six liaison squadrons were trained at the airfield. Equipped with Piper L-4 Cub and Stinson L-5 Sentinel liaison planes and C-64 Norseman utility cargo aircraft, the pilots were schooled in low level flying, short field landings, tactical reconnaissance, and supply missions.


With the Air Commando units moving out at the end of 1944, the flying mission wound down at Cross City and it was used as an auxiliary of the Air Technical Service Command facilities at Alachua AAF. The airfield remained open; mostly seeing transient training aircraft from various training bases in Florida and South Georgia. The number of personnel were reduced, being reassigned to other bases.


In January 1945, Third Air Force sent down orders to close the facility, and it was placed on inactive status on 1 February 1945. Jurisdiction of the airfield was transferred to Air Technical Service Command (ATSC), whose mission was the transfer of any useful military equipment to other bases around the country. Under ATSC, buildings and equipment were sold and any useful military equipment was transferred to other bases around the country. The base was declared as surplus in 1946 and was turned over to the War Assets Administration (WAA) for disposal and return to civil use. After the war, the airfield was returned to civil control and the Cross City Airport was re-established.

Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics
305th Fighter Squadron, 21 October 1942 – 13 June 1943 (P-39 Airacobra)
81st Fighter Squadron, 18 June 1943 – 1 February 1944 (P-47 Thunderbolt)
Third Air Force
1st Fighter Squadron (Commando), 12–21 June 1944 (P-51 Mustang)
2d Fighter Squadron (Commando), 9–21 June 1944 (P-51 Mustang)
127th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 21 June-17 August 1944
155th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 21 June-17 August 1944
156th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 21 June-17 August 1944
157th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 19 August-6 October 1944
159th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 19 August-6 October 1944
160th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 19 August-6 October 1944


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Dixie County Historical Society
761 SE Highway 349
Old Town, FL  32680
Phone: (352) 542-0047
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