Its planes flew throughout the state and the Southeast, with some bombing practice centered on an isolated area below Caesars Head in the northern part of the county.
Early in World War II, the U.S. Army Air Force leased more than two thousand acres of land from the city and county of Greenville to construct what was then known as Greenville Army Air Base, with barracks, hangars, and related buildings to train B-25 crews. Located six miles south of the city, the air base cost an estimated $7.5 million to build and had a monthly payroll of $250,000. Its planes flew throughout the state and the Southeast, with some bombing practice centered on an isolated area below Caesars Head in the northern part of the county. The base was deactivated at the war’s conclusion but then was reconstituted in early 1946 to become headquarters for the nation’s Troop Carrier Command. Later redesignated Military Air Transport Command, its aircraft flew to all parts of the world to provide supplies and troops in emergencies. Its planes played roles in the 1948 Berlin Airlift and during the crisis in the Belgium Congo more than a decade later. During its peak period in the 1950s, some 2,200 men were stationed at the base. In 1951 the facility was named in honor of Major John O. Donaldson of Greenville, a World War I ace. The base was considered as a possible site for the U.S. Air Force Academy but lost out to Colorado Springs, Colorado. By 1961 the U.S. Air Force deactivated Donaldson, but a few personnel maintained and guarded its facilities until it was closed two years later. The land was returned to the local government and its buildings and equipment sold to them for more than $400,000. Soon afterward the site became the Greenville Municipal Airport and an industrial park.
Huff, Archie Vernon, Jr. Greenville: The History of the City and County in the South Carolina Piedmont. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995.
Todd, Leonard. “Donaldson Center Industrial Air Park.” Proceedings and Papers of the Greenville County Historical Society 8 (1984–1990): 133–43.