An ariel photo of Hendricks Field. Exact Date of the photo is unknown
Hendricks Field was established June 26, 1941 as a basic air corps training school. Even before construction was completed the plans for the base were expanded and Hendricks Field was designated a four engine pilot and crew training program. Florida was a popular location for Army Air Corps training fields due to the year round good weather. Hendricks Field received its name from 1st Lt Laird Woodruff Hendricks Jr, a Florida native Army Air Corps officer who died in a plane crash in England on 07/28/41.
“Easter sunrise service at Hendricks Field 1944.”
Construction began on the new base on July 20th, 1941. The construction was a 24 hour a day operation. By January 29th, 1942 the base was sufficiently completed for the first B-17 to arrive. The first class graduated from Hendricks Field April 25th 1942.
Throughout WW II Hendricks Field served an important B-17 training facility. On Oct 30th, 1942 the base commander, Colonel Carl B McDaniel, congratulated the base personell in a letter (link) on the graduation of the sixth class since the base opened. The base was decommisioned on January 1st, 1946 and turned over to the City of Sebring.
Hi Life was the camp newspaper published at Hendricks Field during the war
“In addition to training the base boasted recreation and entertainment facilities.”
Craig Grabill, whose father N. B. Grabill served as a Captain on a Fire Rescue squad at the airbase remembers Hendricks Field as a small city, with a population several times that of Sebring at the time. Photos from a 1942 year book published at the base offer a window into life on the base during the war. I have included some of the images from the book here.
ail of Tower
“The control tower and operations building”
Very little of Hendricks Field remains. The airfield is now the Sebring Airport. The water treatement plant still exists and some of the old hangers are still in use. Two of the base residences are still standing. In 1997 the original water tower, used up until that time, was demolished to make room for expansion. The control tower, which stood nearby, was dismantled. Grant money has been provided to restore the control tower and reassemble it elsewhere at the field. When this is completed the tower will be the last remaining WW II era control tower in Florida. Although Hendricks Field had an admirable safety record as a training base remnants of wrecked B-17s remain on at least two ranches in the Sebring area. Most significantly, the original base flagpole still stands in the original traffic circle and the Stars and Stripes still wave over the remnants of Hendricks field.
Saturday dawns on the race fans, March 17th 2007.
Hendricks Field is now home to the Sebring International Raceway, where every March the 12 Hours of Sebring Endurance Race is held. This popular race brings about 100,000 fans from all over the world to Sebring. Other smaller races are held at the track throughout the year. Images from the 2007 12 Hours of Sebring are located here.
All of the vintage images on this page are courtesy of the Sebring Historical Society. The brief history of Hendricks Field is based on information from Hendricks Field. . .A Look Back, an excellent book by local historian A.W. “Spizz” Pollard.