World War II: Naval Auxiliary Airfield

The original airport, at Salinas Road and Highway One (about four miles south of town), was the location of the Naval Auxiliary Airfield, effectively an Airship base.  Prior to the special election this southern airfield supported the Navy’s  Airship patrols for submarines off our coast.  The Airship flight squadrons were based at Moffett Field and Watsonville was an auxiliary field where Airships and flight crews were stationed.

The Airships departed on 12-hour submarine patrols, convoy escort flights or on many occasions, to perform air-sea rescues. Crews were stationed here for about a month before being rotated with another crew and Airship. Local men stationed at Watsonville were Don Wilson, George Davis, Vern Dietz and Ron Hill. When the heavier-than-air station northwest of town became operational, the former Airship facility was closed down in late 1945 as the Airships were no longer required.