HistoryThe Wilson Industrial Air Center was developed during WWII as an outlying field to the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC for the purpose of training naval aviators on the T-6 Texan Trainer. Its three runway design was important to assist new fighter pilots in avoiding cross wind approaches. As their expeience grew with training, cross wind approaches were added.
The T-6 Texan two-place advanced trainer was the classroom for most of the Allied pilots who flew in World War II. Called the SNJ by the Navy and the Harvard by the RAF, the T-6 was designed as a transition trainer between basic trainers and first-line tactical aircraft.
In all, the T-6 trained several hundred thousand pilots in 34 different countries. A total of 15,495 of the planes were made. Though most famous as a trainer, the T-6 Texan also won honors in World War II and in the early days of the Korean War.
The Texan was an evolution of the company's BC-1 basic combat trainer, which was first produced for the U.S. Army Air Corps with fixed landing gear in 1937 under a contract that called for 174 planes. It was designed by North American Aviation as a low-cost trainer with all the characteristics of a high-speed fighter. Although not as fast as a fighter, it was easy to maintain and repair, had more maneuverability and was easier to handle. A pilot's airplane, it could roll, Immelmann, loop, spin, snap, and vertical roll. It was designed to give the best possible training in all types of tactics, from ground strafing to bombardment and aerial dogfighting, and contained such versatile equipment as bomb racks, blind flying instrumentation, gun and standard cameras, fixed and flexible guns, and just about every other device that military pilots had to operate.
At the end of WWII, the Federal Government began the daunting task of drawing down and eliminating surplus warstock, to include the Wilson Industrial Air Center. The Civil Aeronautics Administration (later known as the FAA) determined that the Wilson Airport was surplus property and the facility was given to the Town of Wilson in July of 1948 as a gift. The airport has since been operated by the City of Wilson.
The Wilson Industrial Air Center is managed by a commission of individuals with interests in transportation and aviation.
- N. Johnson Bissette
- Joseph J. Chesson
- Thomas F. Corbett
- Jeffrey Shane Cox
- Guy Dixon, Chairman
- William Thomas Fyle
- Joseph Anthony George
- Robert Gene Mills
- Dr. Ralph B. Perry, Jr
- Mrs. Terri Stutts
- Mrs. Jennifer Lantz, ex-officio