Historic Gerstner Airfield Field
Calcasieu Parish was the site of the first military air field established in Louisiana, The Gerstner Airfield. The US Army Signal Corps began training fighter pilots in November 1917.
Gerstner had 24 hangers, 90 support structures, and a rail connection to Lake Charles. Almost 500 fighter pilots and instructors trained here including General Jimmy Doolittle, Captain Ernest Harmon, General Claire Chennault, and Captain Maxwell Kirby, who is credited with downing the last enemy airplane in World War I.
Twelve men were accidentally killed while in training including a former mayor of New York City who fell to his death from an open cockpit.
Aerial gunnery, wireless communication between ground and pilot, and airplane ambulance service were “invented” at this airbase.
The facility, which was designed to be temporary, was dismantled in 1921; foundations and runways are located just west of the location of the historic marker on Louisiana Highway 27 about one mile south of the Louisiana Highway 14 intersection at Holmwood. On the Creole Nature Trail, Highway 27 leg.
Additional information about Gerstern Field and the role it played in World Ware One aviation is online via the links supplied to the right.
The historical marker sign reads as follows:
First military air field in Louisiana. US Army Signal Corps began training Nov 1917.
Gerstner had 24 hangers and 90 other buildings.
Almost 500 fighter pilots and instructors were trained here for World War I Western Front.
Dismantled in 1921; foundations located west of this sign.