Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Naval Outlying Field, Cotati
(Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Cotati)
US Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District History (1993)

In the early 1940s, the United States deemed it desirable from a military standpoint to establish and maintain numerous small airfields (auxiliary or outlying airfields) for the purpose of having available at all times adequate landing fields for military aircraft. The Navy Department acquired two farm tracts totaling 216.95 acres in 1941 by condemnation proceedings against the Rohnert Company and the Cotati Company. The airfield was constructed on agricultural land adjacent to the corporate limits of Cotati City, which later became Rohnert Park. Several pre-existing farm residences remained near the Site after the airfield was constructed. By 1942, two runways had been constructed: one running east and west the other northwest and southeast. NOLF Cotati started operations in June 1943. From June 1943 until 1945, the U.S. Navy operated the Former NOLF Cotati as an auxiliary outer landing field for Alameda Naval Air Station and Santa Rosa Naval Air Station. The Site was primarily used for takeoff and landing exercises.

Former NOLF Cotati had five buildings at the height of its use: an operations building and control tower, a fire and crash truck building, an oil storage shed, a water pump house, and a small arms storage building. The four main buildings were located on the southeast portion of the Site. The buildings had concrete foundations, wood siding, wooden floors, and composition shingle roofing. The first floor of the control tower was used for operations, consisting of a kitchen and small mess area and men's quarters (Figure 3 4). The second floor was the air traffic control portion of the building. To the east of the control tower was the oil storage shed. South of the oil storage shed was the water pump house and a 25,000-gallon water tank. To the west of the control tower was the fire and crash truck building. This facility housed the emergency vehicles. Additionally, there was a central sanitary septic tank near the former prevailing wind indicator. An appraisal report dated 26 May 1958 states that electricity and gas were provided by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and the water was provided by a municipal utility district. In 1944, the small arms storage facility was added near the eastern entrance road. An aircraft machine gun firing range, also referred to as an airplane target range, was located along the east-west runway, at the western end of the runway. The warm-up apron contained an aircraft fueling pit, supplied by two partially buried 25,000-gallon gasoline storage tanks located to the south.

In 1945, there were several sub-base runway failures due to the impervious nature of the soils. Documentation from the NARA indicates requests for repairs for resealing the runways were approved, but due to the extent of failures these costly repairs were never completed. After Navy ceased operations in 1945, this facility remained idle for several years. In 1948 a portion of the Site was leased for agricultural use to M. J. Azevedo. In 1954, the U.S. Navy recommended Former NOLF Cotati be declared excess to the needs of naval aviation; however, it was not actually reported to GSA as surplus property until 14 January 1957. In 1956, The Department of the Navy granted a license to the City of Santa Rosa for use and occupancy of Former NOLF Cotati. This license agreement was canceled 31 January 1957 "in view of the impending transfer and in furtherance of disposal." A license for use of the Site runways was then granted by the Department of the Navy to California Research Corporation for the period of 1 December 1957 through 30 November 1958. The California Research Corporation used the runways for road testing purposes, and arable lands adjacent to the runways were specifically excluded from the license. In 1958, GSA conducted the appraisal entitled "Appraisal of Real Estate for 216.95 acres of Improved Land known as Naval Outer Landing, West Side of Highway 101, Cotati, Sonoma County." Then, in August 1958, the Site was quitclaimed to Michael C. Callan.
Building Schedule

 Building No.


 Operations and Control Tower

 Fire and Crash Truck Garage

 Two Partially Buried Gasoline Tanks (25,000 gal. each)

 Oil Storage Shed

 Well, Tank, Pumphouse

 Small Arms Magazine

Source: War Assets Administration, Real Property Division, Plot Plan and Building Layout, Outer Landing Field, Cotati, California, June 1943

Ceasar-Callan Homes owned the Site from 1958 through 1966. In 1966, Ceasar-Callan Homes sold the property to Santa Rosa Enterprises, another real estate development company. Later in 1966, Santa Rosa Enterprises sold the property to Codding Enterprises, who initiated redevelopment of the Site.

According to the Community Voice newspaper (June 10, 1997 edition; Appendix E), after a decade of inactivity, the Santa Rosa City Council received a permit from federal authorities to conduct drag races on the former runways and taxiways. The former runways were used for the annual Racing Drivers Club driver's school. In the summer of 1956, part of the east-west runway was used for quarter-mile drag racing. The first official race occurred in May 1957. The track continued to be used through much of the 1960s but saw dwindling use after Sears Point (renamed Infineon) Raceway opened in early 1969. The Site was closed to racing in 1972.

Between 1973 and 1975 several light commercial and residential developments were constructed. In 1971, Redwood Drive was relocated on the eastern border of the Site and off/on ramps were constructed. Rohnert Park Expressway also was built between 1971 and 1973. The State of California obtained an easement for freeway expansion in 1953 for U.S. Highway 101. Other development on the Site included one mobile home park (Rancho Verde Mobile Home Park) deeded March 1973, located on the northwestern section of the Site. A PG&E materials distribution center was built in 1977, and a hotel and Kmart store were constructed later. Currently, no traces of Former NOLF Cotati facilities are visible. The 10 June 1997 Community Voice newspaper article summarizes the final disposition of this DoD facility: "When the Target store was built in 1992, the cement compass rose was taken out to make room for the parking lot. And with that unceremonious removal went the last reminder that this ground was once the World War II Cotati Naval Outlying Field".
Site Maps

Extract Army Air Forces Directory of Airfields (January 1945)
Additional History:
Forgotten and Little-Known Airfields
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Updated 8 February 2016