As a result of the United States’ involvement in World War II, the Navy felt an additional Kansas station was needed to train young flyers. So in 1941, the Olathe Naval Air Station was established. The original 640 acres included a county airport and land that had been established for the rich and elite. However, with the onset of the Great Depression, only two homes were built. Being the perfect location, papers were signed, and the land was sold.
In 1942, the first cadets entered the basic training program. Among them was John Glenn, who would later be one of NASA’s first astronauts and a celebrated American icon. He took his first solo flight in a military plane from the Olathe base. In John Glenn: A Memoir, he mentioned his first days, “Walking around on duckboards while the construction crews finished pouring concrete for the sidewalks. … The paint was still drying in the barracks.” By November 17, 1942, Glenn and the first group of cadets left for advanced training elsewhere.
At first, the base only operated out of a few structures on the premise, but by 1948, it had expanded to 19 buildings. Those included were the main Administration Building and three gigantic hangars, including the infamous Hangar 43. Throughout the years there have been many testimonies of paranormal activity connected to this hangar. While numerous deaths have occurred on site, the one usually associated with hauntings is that of a young Air Force pilot who crashed in 1949.
-Terri Bostic, Johnson County Library