Home of the 363rd Fighter Squadron
The Oroville Army Airdrome trained Army Air Corps pilots to fly the Bell P- 39 Airacobra during World War II.
The P- 39 was unique in several respects:
Engine was behind the cockpit.
Driveshaft ran between the pilot's legs to the prop.
Main cannon fired from the hub of the propeller.
A ceiling of only 10,000 ft. (3,000 meters).
First US fighter with retractable landing gear.
The P-39 was reportedly tricky to fly.
The British declined a US offer to supply them with P-39s.
The Russians accepted the US offer and mastered the low altitude P-39 to effectively knock out Nazi tanks.
The Oroville Airdrome is now the Oroville Municipal Airport, located
west of Oroville on Chuck Yeager Drive, near the intersection of Highway
162 (Oroville Dam Boulevard West) and Larkin Road.
Claim to Fame
Chuck Yeager trained at Oroville Army Airdrome - the first man to break the sound barrier. While stationed in Oroville Mr.Yeager met, dated and married Glennis Dickhouse, a girl from Oroville High School's Class of 1943.
Oroville's Tuskegee Airman
Samuel Broadnax (September 24, 1925 - October 7, 2009) grew up in Oroville and was a member of Boy Scout Troop 29. He attended Oroville Union High School. Then, two months into his Senior year in 1944 he enlisted in the Army to become a Tuskegee Airman.
Read more of Sam's story here.
U2 Crash in Oroville
Captain Randy Roby lost his life in an attempt to steer his disabled U2 aircraft away from homes in Thermalito. A civilian, Jeri Vering, was killed nearby by the falling aircraft debri while walking to her parked car at the office of the Oroville Mercury Register. A temporary memorial has been placed by Stu Shaner and his granddaughter, Jessica Rose, near the site where Captain Roby was found with his unopened parachute.
WWII Military Air Crashes near Oroville
|14 MAY 1943||P-39N-O||Carter, Lloyd C||4 Mi NW Oroville|
|22 AUG 1943||P-39||Simpson, Edward K||5 Mi W Oroville Army Airport|
|22 AUG 1943||P-39Q||Hubbard, Glenn A||5 Mi W Oroville Army Airport|
|23 AUG 1943||P-39Q||Mickelson, Harold J||2 Mi N Army Airdrome|
|23 AUG 1943||P-39Q||Troup, Donald S||Army Airdrome|
|25 AUG 1943||P-39Q||Browning, James W||Oroville, CA|
|31 AUG 1943||AT-6A||Wellman, James I||Oroville Army Airdrome|
|3 SEP 1943||P-39Q||Sheppard, Keith S||Army Airdrome|
|18 SEP 1943||P-39||Soens, Donald A||10 mi. NE Roseville|
|24 OCT 1943||B25||Sikking, Chester B.||3 Mi W Richvale|
|24 OCT 1943||B25||Vedder, Norbert F.||3 Mi W Richvale|
|24 OCT 1943||B25||Lawlor, John F.||3 Mi W Richvale|
|28 DEC 1943||P-39Q||Weidman, Hubert L||2 Mi E Butte City|
|29 DEC 1943||P-39Q||Green, Arthur L||Oroville AAF, CA|
|9 JAN 1944||P-30N||Dye, Rufus Jr||3 Mi SE Oroville AAF|
|12 JAN 1944||P-39Q||Caporal, James E||13 Mi W Gridley|
|13 JAN 1944||P-39||Solberg, Henry L||12 Mi NW Oroville|
|13 JAN 1944||P-39||Watts, Wendell E||12 Mi NW Oroville|
|14 JAN 1944||P-30NO||Gerigk, Chester||Oroville AAF, Runway 30|
|1963||Helicopter||Birch, Richard L.||Near Feather River, South of lower bridge|
|1963||Helicopter||Cowart, Charles||Near Feather River, South of lower bridge|
|1963||Helicopter||Davis, Edward D.||Near Feather River, South of lower bridge|
|1963||Helicopter||Keuht, Loyd R.||Near Feather River, South of lower bridge|
|1963||Helicopter||Williams, Clarence A., Jr.||Near Feather River, South of lower bridge|
|7 AUG 1996||U-2||Roby, Randy D., Capt.||Oroville Mercury parking lot on 2nd Street|
|7 AUG 1996||Jerri Vering (Civilian ground casualty)||Oroville Mercury parking lot on 2nd Street|
Crewmen in RED died in crashes
Crash data partly provided by Aviation Archaeology Investigation & Research