Two Important New Centers
Among the seminal events of the CAA era was the establishment of a pair of major new facilities, one devoted to research and one to a spectrum of functions.
Opened in May 1939, the Indianapolis Experimental Station was dedicated to seeking improvements in such aeronautical fields as communications, navigation, lighting, and landing systems.
The photo above shows the station in 1946, the year in which the first radar-equipped control tower for civilian flying was unveiled there by the CAA. (Since 1940, the CAA had been redesignated the Civil Aeronautics Administration and had operated as a part of the Commerce Department.) The B-247 in the foreground was the agency's NC-11 "flying laboratory."
The Experimental Station was later renamed the Technical Development and Evaluation Center, then gradually deactivated after the establishment of a new research and testing facility in New Jersey in 1958.
In May 1946, the CAA announced the selection of Will Rogers Field at Oklahoma City as the location of its new aeronautical center. The municipal government agreed to construct an administrative building and two hangars for the agency's use.
The CAA quickly began to concentrate many aircraft maintenance and training activities at this central location.
Above: an early 1950s view of part of the Aeronautical Center. The four buildings aligned in a row include (left to right) the Aircraft Branch staff office, Omnirange Data Processing Center, and two structures for Link Trainer rooms. The large building at right is the machine and metal working shop. (From album of Robert W. Swinney)
Subsequently enlarged and improved, the facility remains the FAA's principal base for training and maintenance — as well as for such varied functions as logistics, registration records, and medical research. In June 1978, it was renamed the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in honor of Oklahoma's noted Congressman and Senator. Monroney sponsored many important aviation laws, including the 1958 act that created the FAA.