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Cheyenne Modification Center

Other location

Detailed history

During World War II, the Airport served multiple important functions such as a completion and modification center for the B-17 Flying Fortress, testing and training center for the modifications made to aircraft, and as a flight training center. Plains Airways operated 3 CPT schools for the Army Air Corps during WWII with headquarters at the Cheyenne Airport. Modifications to the gunning turrets and armament were made and calibrated in three facilities, one of which now houses the headquarters of the Wyoming Air National Guard.

Both the flight and ground operations for Plains Airways were managed by W. Dillard "Pic" Walker who was among the first inductees into the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame (located in the Airport's Terminal). Plains trained more than 5,000 pilots and mechanics for the war effort. Walker also established the Cheyenne Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) as one of the founding members of the organization back in the 1940's (a Civil Air Patrol Uniform from that era is on display in the Terminal).

Ralph S. Johnson was responsible for the engineering and testing of the hundreds of B-17's, B-24's, and PBY's coming through the modification center. The "green" aircraft were flown from the factory into Cheyenne where they were modified with all the armaments and combat equipment, then test flown by Johnson and his crews. Once determined to be fit for flight, the aircraft were delivered to combat units, some based as far away as New Guinea and Australia. Johnson and his crews test flew some 10,000 airplanes during the war.



  • 41-24391

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 28/6/42; Assigned 93BS/19BG Mareeba, Aus (1st aircraft in) 3/8/42; transferred 63BS/43BG; crashed on take off Mareeba, NQ, and destroyed with Capt Herschall R. Henson 13/9/42, all KIA. HOOMALIMALI.

  • 41-24428

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 1/7/42; Assigned 30BS/19BG Mareeba, Aus 21/8/42; crash landed base with Bill Humrichouse 7/9/42, (crew unknown); Salvaged. (?MISS CARRIAGE?).

  • 41-24430

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 1/7/42; Bolling 12/8/42; Assigned Poppy (PTO) 1/9/42; Missing in Action en route from New Zealand 9/42; Written off 31/10/44. Fate uncertain.

  • 41-24456

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 13/8/42 with Ben Pickenbrock; Salina 23/11; Cheyenne 30/1/43; Walla Walla 23/2/43; Geiger 30/4/43; Walla Walla 9/5/43; Spokane 25/6/43; Gt Falls 1/8/43; with P.C. Wells force landed base 3/2/44; Reconstruction Finance Corporation ...

  • 41-24528

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 2/8/42; Sacramento 1/9/42; Assigned 431BS/11BG New Hebrides 4/9/42; damaged by gunfire from battleship while at Henderson Fd, Guadalcanal, and abandoned 31/10/42. Written off 31/10/44.

  • 41-24535

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 2/8/42; Hamilton 11/9/42; Assigned 431BS/11BG New Caledonia 19/9/42; Returned to the USA Hamilton 12/9/43; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Walnut Ridge 21/9/45.

  • 41-24548

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 3/8/42; Hamilton 4/9/42; Assigned 403BS/43BG Laverton, Aus 14/3/42; transferred 65BS & 64BS Torrens Creek, Aus 27/8/42; Iron Range, Aus 17/10/42; Milne Bay, NG 23/11/42; Mareeba, Aus 21/1/43; Port Moresby, NG 11/5/43; transferred...

  • 41-24628

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 1/9/42; Wayne Co. 2/11/42; West Palm Beach 15/12/42; Assigned Blot 12AF 12/1/43; Written off 8/7/44.

  • 41-2512

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 27/1/42; RCAF Dorval, Montreal 13/3/42, to Gt Britain Defense Aid; force landed Hendricks Fd, Sebring with Bob Fitzgerald 15/4/43..

  • 41-2521

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Ogden 25/1/42; Hill 18/2/42; Cheyenne 12/4/42; Lowry 8/5/42; Hamilton 29/5/42; slated RAF by transferred 72BS/5BG Hawaii 30/5/42; fate unknown after 15/6/44. Salvaged Hawaii 10/8/44.

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Date Contributor Update
27 March 2018 09:32:51 Lucy May Changes to aircraft associations

Have begun to connect up aircraft records with 'Cheyenne' in their biography field.

Date Contributor Update
25 March 2018 15:05:36 TennyBelle Changes to known as

found reference to location alias and added

Date Contributor Update
25 March 2018 02:32:12 TennyBelle Created entry with name, latitude, longitude, usaaf from date, usaaf to date and history

Cheyenne Regional Airport history page, B-17 serial number database.