Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.
In its Aug. 5, 1939 paper, the Bulloch Herald reported on the bid by the Georgia Teachers College to get approval for their requested aviation course. Earlier that year the college was designated as a possible training center for aviation students by the Civil Aeronautics Authority in Washington, D.C.
Formal approval by the University Regents would make GTC a training school in the Civil Aeronautics Authority's new Civil Pilot Training Program, with ground training courses given at GTC and practical flying work done at Statesboro Airport, with the cooperation of the Statesboro Airport Corporation.
As early as 1934 plans had been made to build a new municipal airport. After the United States Department of Commerce approved two prospective sites for the airport in 1935, Bulloch County's business and civic leaders arranged to lease a 93-acre tract in 1936 on which to construct the airport.
A 4,000-ft. grass landing strip was cleared and the first airplane hangar was built. Initially known as the Bulloch County Airport, the facility celebrated the first landing of a locally owned aircraft on Nov. 21, 1936.
According to the Bulloch Herald, shortly thereafter, the owners of the aircraft formed the Statesboro Aircraft Corporation on Dec. 12. As part of their corporate business plan, they then began offering local citizens private aircraft flight instruction.
Not surprisingly, when contacted by the paper, C.P. Olliff, the president of the SAC, said that “it will mean a great deal to Statesboro if this (GTC Aviation course) goes through.”
All students beyond freshman status were declared eligible to apply for the training program; and after passing the course, students would be encouraged to pass regular CAA examinations and tests for a civil pilot's license.
On Aug. 19, 1939, Dr. Pittman of Georgia Teachers College was notified by Robert H. Hinkley, the chairman of the CAA, that Statesboro was selected as an institution for the Civil Pilot Training Program. Ed Neilson of the CAA arrived at the college to celebrate the college's inclusion in the program.
On Oct. 2, 1939, the Statesboro Airport Corporation purchased a new 50-horsepower Taylor Cub plane (with steerable tail wheel and hydraulic brakes) to meet government requirements for participation in the GTC/CAA training program.
In addition, Larry Dobbs of the Statesboro Airport Corporation received a special pilot's rating so he was qualified to train the students. Dobbs, who had been flying since 1927, now had a proficiency rating at the same level as the United States Army's own pilots.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.