Historic Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Marine Corps Outlying Field, Hemet
(Ryan School of Aeronautics Contract Flying School, Ryan Field)


In September 1940, a CPS operated by the Ryan School of Aeronautics, an affiliate of the Ryan Aircraft Co., began training at Hemet, 40 miles east of El Toro. When the school closed in December 1944, 6,629 of the 8,907 cadets who started the pro gram were completed - a 74% graduation rate. In April 1945, the DPC loaned Hemet to the Marines for an OLF of El Toro. Seabees installed a catapult and arresting gear system for carrier training. The detachment of Marines at Hemet numbered about 60. In October 1945, Hemet was closed and the men returned to El Toro. Today, Hemet is a general aviation airport.

Copied with the permission of the author from United States Marine Corps Air Stations of World War II.

Ryan School of Aeronautics by Justin M. Rughe
T. Claude Ryan was one of the pioneers in the American aviation business. He built aircraft, ran an airline, and operated flying schools. The Spirit of Saint Louis, flown solo by Charles Lindbergh across the Atlantic in 1927, was designed and built by Ryan Aeronautics in San Diego. Ryan was trained as a pilot by the Army at March Field. In his efforts to develop the flying industry, Ryan needed many well-trained pilots. Ryan Flying School in San Diego was formally opened at Ryan Field on May 1, 1928 for the purpose of making money and to build up the stock of good pilots. In 1932 Ryan opened an air terminal and school buildings at Lindbergh Field. In 1934, Ryan launched a new aircraft for the training of new pilots called the Ryan S-T for sport trainer. It was a radical departure from earlier trainers like the bi-wing Stearman cloth-covered airplanes. The S-T was a mono-low-wing design two-seater with an all aluminum body. The S-T was used extensively by the Ryan student pilots. Also in 1934 Consolidated Aircraft opened its factory at Lindbergh Field after moving from Buffalo, New York.
In 1938 it appeared to many in the military that the U.S. would become involved in a war in Europe. To prepare for this event the Army needed a way to greatly increase the number of Army pilots that it felt would be needed in the event of a war. Army General Hap Arnold asked Ryan and eight other commercial flight schools to help solve this problem by setting up schools of instruction for Army pilots. They responded enthusiastically. On May 8, 1939, General Arnold announced the plan to the Congress and funding for the new schools was approved shortly thereafter.
Back at San Diego, Ryan Flight School began construction of cadet barracks and additional technical training facilities. Auxiliary training fields were selected and prepared. Eight of the school's top instructors and commercial pilot graduates were sent to Randolph Field for a cram course in military training methods. These were followed by seven more. The first eight Ryan instructors flew into San Diego on June 17, 1939 with their Army PT-13 Stearman biplane trainers. Nine days earlier the Army announced that it would buy modern new Ryan S-T trainers for its expanded program.
The first cadets arrived at San Diego on July 1, 1939. The first class was 35 cadets. It had been less than eight weeks since the plan was announced.
Following the opening class, new classes arrived each six weeks for the three-month training program, which included 65 hours of flight time and 225 hours of technical instruction. In a few months the classes of incoming cadets were increased to sixty-five student pilots.
Early on only the Army Stearman biplanes were used to train the students, however, these were replaced by the Ryan PT-16 military trainers with the second class of cadets at the Ryan school. Eventually, the Army purchased hundreds of the Ryan trainers for use in all its primary schools. After the first year, the Army was pleased with the results and requested that the program at Ryan be expanded. This could not be done at the San Diego school so another site was needed. A second site was located in the Hemet Valley not far from March Field in Riverside County. 320 acres were provided by the Board of Supervisors for the new school. Construction required only 37 days. Three million square feet of the field was oiled.
Five hangars, barracks, mess hall, control tower and administration buildings were rushed to completion in 1940. Primary training began September 9, 1940. Within a month another construction program was launched to expand the school to handle 600 cadets. Hemet graduated 98.5% of its cadet classes.
Four cadets from the San Diego school were on the Jimmie Doolittle B-25 raid on Japan on April 18, 1942. Ryan graduate Captain Charles E. Yeager made aviation history by flying his X-1 rocket plane past Mach 1 at Edwards Air Force Base.
The Hemet facility became the mainstay of Ryan's cadet training program, although training continued at San Diego until 1942, when that area was classified by the military as a combat zone. Ryan was requested to move the school inland. This led to the establishment of a third facility for 500 cadets near Tucson, Arizona on June 15, 1942. The site was barren but the facilities were built during the hottest summer on record and six weeks after the first lumber arrived, planes were operating from the Arizona field. Planes and personnel were transported 400 miles over a weekend without the loss of a day's flying time.
Ryan's schools furnished the Army Air Corps with 14,000 pilots before they closed in 1944. At the peak of activity, in the fall of 1943, more than 1,200 cadets were in training at Ryan schools at the same time.
By the time the war ended, 250,000 cadets had been trained in primary schools and 193,131 had graduated from advanced training.
For Claude Ryan and the operators of sixty other contract schools, the end of the war brought a quiet peace. Their nation had called and they had been ready. Two years after V-J Day, President Harry S. Truman awarded the Civilian Certificate of Merit to Claude Ryan for his wartime contributions.
Additional Online Histories
Ryan School of Aeronautics Yearbook, Class 43-G

Extract US Army Air Forces Directory of Airfields (January 1945)
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Updated 8 February 2016