Training at Chanute Field


Aerial Shot of White Hall

As seen in the photograph above, the centerpiece of Chanute Field was White Hall, a 500,000-square-foot building, equivalent to eleven football fields. It was the largest American military structure before the Pentagon was built in 1941. 

The first female instructors at Chanute Field began their training in parachute rigging in 1942. In the photograph below, Catherine Jefer of 508 W. Elm Street, Urbana, takes her first lesson in the intricate and exacting task of folding the silk canopy of a parachute. 

Chanute field swelled in size until it reached its wartime population peak of 25,000 soldiers in January 1943. A 1940 aerial photograph of Chanute Field shows how the size of the base quickly outpaces its home community of Rantoul. The base would serve as the major economic engine of the city until its closure on September 30, 1993. A photograph of aircraft belonging to the Army’s Air Corps Technical Training Command can also be seen below, which was also part of the many areas of training at Chanute Field, as mentioned earlier. 

Training at Chanute Field