Field is expected to close by Nov. 1, except for a few fireman and
engineers who will keep watch over Army property, Lt. Col. John L.
McBride, commanding officer, said today.
The city is taking the first step to regain use of the field with a prospect the National Airlines might switch operations from Lodwick.
City Manager Charles Larsen said the field is wanted because of prospects that larger peacetime airliners, freighters as well as passenger ships will soon be stopping in Lakeland.
Drane Field has longer runways than Lodwick - 5000 ft. as compaired with 3,500 ft. and will be needed to accommondate the larger ships of the immediate future, Larsen said.
Larsen as well as National Manager in Lakeland Charles ( Dick ) Bentley said National Airlines had discussed moving to Drane Field, but no definite plans had been made as yet on moving.
A squadron of an army force of 10 officers and 73 men are rapidly completing the job of cleaning up Drane Field where as many as 5,000 men once occupied the barricks that are now empty and ghostlike.
In the past week this force of men has shipped out 16 carrier loads of army equipment and Colonel McBride was confident the job would be finished by the end of the month.
The land that comprises Drane Field is owned by the city and 13 private individuals. It was leased to the war department and will revert to the owners some six months after the official shutdown of the field.
With all this in mind, Larsen said that a survey had been started with an eye to acquisition by the city of additional property needed for operation of the field as a city airport.
As for the barracks and other buildings, army routine is to auction them off to the highest bidders at a public sale usually held six months after the field is officially closed.