Naval Auxiliary Air Station
The Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Arcata was located at the newly constructed Humboldt County airport from early 1942 to the end of 1945. Ground-breaking on the new facility north of McKinleyville at Dow's Prairie started on December 15, 1941, the last date possible under the $295,000 contract awarded to Redding contractor John Carlin by the Civil Aeronautics Administration. On this date it was also reported by the county supervisors that, upon request of the Navy, crews would work 24 hours a day until it was complete.
Planned long before the attack on Pearl Harbor, once finished the newly constructed airport was a perfect fit for wartime Navy operations. The air station had two asphalt runways: one ran 4,500 feet from the Northeast to the Southwest and the other 5,800 from the Northwest to the Southeast. The facility served as a rocket training facility for Naval pilots, who practiced on targets located at Big Lagoon, Trinidad, and Humboldt Bay. The barracks at the facility were capable of housing over 900 servicemen, and by March 1942 were filled to 70 percent capacity. A 125' x 60' Kodiak hangar housed anywhere between 10-20 planes at a given time, consisting of Avengers, JMs, FM-2s, J2F Ducks, F6F Hellcats, SBDs and R-50s. There were also two GH Howard ambulance planes and a GB Staggerwing Beech permanently stationed at the facility. These investments were protected by several gun emplacements located around the perimeter of the station.