Last updated: December 5, 2022
In 1942, a B-17 Flying Fortress training base was established west of Lewistown by the US Army Air Corp to train air crews for European and North African missions. The B-17, a four-engine behemoth developed in the 1930s, was utilized in World War II bombing campaigns in Germany. The model reportedly dropped more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft in WWII. Lewistown Satellite Airfield was one of four training airfields for B-17 Flying Fortress crew members.
On October 28, 1942, the first Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses roared over Lewistown’s Main Street with their bomb bays open, buzzed the treetops, and landed at the Lewistown Airfield. Crews trained day and night combining navigation, bombing, and gunnery practice. The men familiarized themselves with all aspects of the B-17 and trained with the top secret Norden bombsight, a computerized aiming device that reportedly could “put bombs in a pickle barrel.” After one to three months of instruction, aircrews then flew directly to join the air war in Europe. Nearly 1,000 GIs trained at the Lewistown Airfield.
The Lewistown Satellite Airfield was deactivated after eleven months of service. As the US Department of Defense systematically removes “temporary” World War II buildings, this Airfield is a rarity and its intact Norden bombsight storage shelter is the only known identifiable example remaining in the United States.
Lewistown Satellite Airfield Historic District, now the Lewistown Municipal Airport, was listed in the National Register of Historic on September 17, 2004.