By: Brittany Harlow
December 14, 2016
A reception was held at North Texas Regional Airport - Perrin Field on Wednesday to celebrate 75 years in Grayson County.
“I’m just happy to see 75 years,” MSgt. (R) Charles “Charlie” Brown said. “That means I’m getting awful old.”
Brown, who currently serves as president of the Perrin Air Force Base Museum, was stationed at Perrin Air Force Base from 1963 to 1968.
He tells us the first troops arrived in early December 1941, before Pearl Harbor.
“They brought them in out of the railroad station at Pottsboro and hauled them out here on trucks,” Brown said. “And they loaded the barracks and a lot of the barracks still weren’t finished and there was no heating or anything like that and that’s December here in Texas.”
After the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Perrin Air Force Base was one of the first basic flight training schools to become operational.
More than 10,000 pilots graduated from Perrin Field during World War II and the Korean War.
Brown said the Apollo astronauts trained at Perrin, as well, back in the sixties.
“They had to go through survival school then fly the F102 at supersonic before they qualified to go to Houston,” Brown said.
After the base closed in 1971, it became the Grayson County Airport, and was renamed North Texas Regional Airport in 2007. Texas Aviation Partners took over managing the airport in May 2016.
“It truly is a diamond in the rough and we at Texas Aviation Partners are excited about getting involved and doing everything we can to promote this great asset and make it a real job creator for Grayson County,” Mabe said.
The two runway, 1410-acre facility is now home to dozens of businesses and corporate and private aircraft, including the U.S. Aviation Academy.
“We have the schools in here and repair shops for aircraft,” Brown said. “People come from all over the united states to get the airplanes repaired here.”
While active U.S. military are no longer training at NTRA-Perrin Field, the flight school is still training pilots from friendly governments through the Air Force.
“I believe Nigeria is in right now doing some transition training into a Cessna Caravan that the flight academy bought in order to support that mission,” Mabe said.
The U.S. Aviation Academy submitted a bid to bring U.S. Air Force initial flight training back to the airport last December, but the ten-year, $200 million estimated contract has yet to be awarded.
Mabe said TAP is excited to take NTRA- Perrin Field to the next level, which includes the Cavanaugh Flight museum taking over a hangar and an announcement regarding another company coming soon.
"Perrin Field has such a rich history and played an important part in our Nation's Defense for decades," TAP founding partner Stephen Alexander said. "We look forward to honoring that history, while spearheading the forward progress of the airport and its development for the next seventy-five years."