Cache Valley Aviation and World War II

CPTP Students in Front of Planes
CPTP students of the Cache Valley Flying Service stand in front of their Piper J-3 Cub trainer aircraft at the Logan-Cache Airport. At its peak, the Cache Valley Flying Service had fifty planes and fifty-five instructors.
(USU Special Collections & Archives, P0657, Box 2, Folder 3, Image 8)

Realizing the need to once again build up forces due to threats overseas, the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) was established in 1939 to offer students preliminary flight training in preparation for military service. This program selected universities across the country to run ground training and contract with private operators to provide flight training for prospective aviators. The Logan Chamber of Commerce and the USAC sought to participate, eager to get Cache Valley involved in the war effort. However, this required expanding and re-graveling the runways in order for the Logan-Cache Airport to qualify. These alterations were made by late 1939, and by early 1940, the federal government announced a need for airports nationwide, allowing for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) to provide the funds necessary to add an additional runway and improve the entire airport infrastructure at the Logan-Cache Airport. The Cache Valley Flying Service received the contract to offer flight training, becoming one of the largest CPT programs in the region in coordination with ground school offered through the USAC.[1] Being selected for the CPTP was not only a patriotic honor, but also a terrific boost for any municipality’s payroll. By April 1942, the training program already represented a payroll of 1.5 million dollars annually for Cache County.[2]

Reincorporated in 1941 as the Cache Valley Flying Service, the company employed fifty-five instructors and had a fleet of fifty planes at its peak. The planes flown were primarily small, two-seat Piper J-3 Cubs. The operation was so large that several buildings from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in the Cub River basin were procured and moved to the airport for use in training. A large hangar capable of holding most of the trainer aircraft was also constructed to accommodate expanding needs.[3]

USAC Students Work on Aircraft Engines
USAC students work on piston aircraft engines. The USAC has offered ground school and aviation mechanics classes since the 1930s.
(USU Special Collections & Archives, P0657, Box 2, Folder 3, Image 12)

Through the CPT program, students received flying lessons at the Logan-Cache Airport with the Cache Valley Flying Service. Prior to actual flying, students underwent ground school at the USAC where they learned the basics of flight. The USAC also had other federal contracts, including aircraft mechanic training as well as radio training for naval aviators and flight crews. Most of this training took place both on campus and at the airport.

By June 1944, when the CPT program ended, over 3,000 aviators had been trained by the USAC and the Cache Valley Flying Service. These young men from all around the country became military aviators and made their contributions to the war effort. Cache Valley excitedly petitioned to take part in wartime aviation efforts, and the preexisting infrastructure and interest made it possible, as was mentioned by the Cache Chamber of Commerce:

It is the opinion [of the Cache Chamber of Commerce] that without the efforts put forth during the past several years to bring the airport up to present condition, it would be difficult now to get an airport with government financial support. There would have been no training program at the airport. The present training program at the Logan-Cache Airport ranks as one of the best in the intermountain states. With other improvements to be made the Logan-Cache Airport will be available for airmail, express, and passenger service after the war. A large airline company has already made application for franchise for this service.[4]

[1] George D. Clyde, “History of Logan City—Cache County Airport,” MS 14.4/1:17, Papers of the School of Engineering, Merrill-Cazier Library Special Collections & Archives, Utah State University.
[2] USU_COLL MSS 293, Box 4 Fd 1, Cache Chamber of Commerce papers, 1904–1999, Merrill-Cazier Library Special Collections & Archives, Utah State University.
[3] USU_COLL MSS 293, Box 4 Fd 1, Cache Chamber of Commerce papers.
[4] USU_COLL MSS 293, Box 4 Fd 1, Cache Chamber of Commerce papers.