During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces used Garden City Airport as a training airfield by the Army Air Forces Flying Training Command, Gulf Coast Training Center. The facility was known as Garden City Army Airfield.
Air Ports, Historical
The airfield opened in early 1942 and originally trained Royal Air Force pilots in basic flight training. In June 1943 it was converted as part of the 70,000 Pilot Training Program into the Army Air Forces Pilot School (Basic) (later 49th Basic Flying Training Group). Flying cadets learned to fly with Vultee BT-13A Valiants. The BT-13 was the basic trainer flown by most pilots during WWII. It was the second phase of the three phase training program for pilots.
Garden City Regional Airport's former status as Garden City AAF helped it serve an important role during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. When orders were dispatched to ground all domestic flights, three large jets were ordered to land at GCRA as it was the closest airport with runways that could accommodate the planes. Since planes of such size don't normally use the airport, the passengers had to be evacuated with the aid of ladder trucks from the Garden City Fire Department.